The Role of Nutrition and Exercise in Sarcopenia Prevention

July 21, 2020

Sarcopenia, the progressive loss of muscle mass, strength, and functioning related to aging, is one of the most common conditions in the elderly with a high rate of adverse outcomes. Considered to be an underrecognized, chronic healthcare challenge, sarcopenia is associated with increased progression of chronic disease, postoperative complications, length of hospital stay, all-cause mortality and cognitive impairment.1 While sarcopenia has long been considered a disease of aging, studies have suggested that the risk of developing the disease is increased by various medical conditions and factors such as decreased physical activity, stress, inflammation and poor dietary intake. This link between physical inactivity, insufficient intake of calories and protein, and poor muscle health in older adults suggests that physical exercise and targeted nutritional supplementation may offer substantial benefits against sarcopenia.2

Exercise, particularly strength or resistance training is highly effective for preventing sarcopenia. Research suggests that a well-designed resistance training program exerts positive effects on the nervous and muscular systems which in turns promotes muscle mass and muscle strength.3 Since dietary protein is essential for skeletal muscle function and with protein-energy malnutrition being a major risk factor for sarcopenia, the combination of protein and exercise can be used synergistically for preventing malnutrition and increasing strength. With older adults, factors such as reduced mobility, reduced appetite, poor oral health, dysphagia, social isolation, and socioeconomic conditions contribute to inadequate protein intake. For this reason, protein supplementation can be highly beneficial and may be necessary to meet the suggested consensus on increased protein needs for older adults of 1-1.3g/kg/day.4

Over the past two decades, research on the positive effects of exercise and nutrition on sarcopenia has rapidly expanded. As healthcare professionals continue to learn more about this debilitating disease, comprehensive clinical assessments for sarcopenia are crucial. These assessments could help guide individualized treatment options which may include physical therapy, exercise and nutritional interventions including the use of oral nutritional supplements. It is more effective to adopt preventative measures to slow the progression of sarcopenia than it is to treat it, especially in elderly patients.

Orgain offers a wide range of clean protein products to fit a variety of nutritional needs, which may support sarcopenia prevention such as Orgain Grass-Fed Whey Protein Powder, Orgain Organic Sport Plant-Based Protein Powder, Orgain Organic Protein Plant-Based Protein Powder and ready-to-drink shakes like the Orgain 20g Clean Protein Shake. With adequate energy intake, these high-quality protein products can help to maximize muscle protein synthesis, which can further improve functionality, strength and general health in older adults.

1 Han, A. et al. J Clin Med. 2018; 7(4): 70.; doi: 10.3390/jcm7040070
2 Martone, M. A., et al. Biomed Res Int. 2017; doi: 10.1155/2017/2672435
3 Law, T., et al. Annu Rev Gerontol Geriatr. 2016; 36(1): 205–228; doi: 10.1891/0198-8794.36.205
4 Lochlainn, M., et al. Nutrients. 2018; 10(7): 929; doi: 10.3390/nu10070929

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