As you age, there is a natural progressive loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength. Although this process happens slowly, eventually it leads to the loss of functional capacity and an increased risk for developing chronic diseases such as diabetes.
Why does this happen? Why can’t we all retain the muscle mass and strength we develop as young adults?
According to researchers at the University of Melbourne, Australia, there are a number of reasons. First, age-related loss of skeletal muscle mass results from a chronic disruption in the balance between muscle protein synthesis and degradation. Or, in other words, your muscles slowly lose the ability to synthesize proteins and break down these proteins into useful components. In fact, the Aussie
researchers propose that muscles from older adults lack the ability to regulate the protein synthetic response to food intake and physical activity.
The researchers say the relationship between protein synthesis and the availability of essential amino acids and/or resistance exercise intensity is shifted down and to the right in elderly humans. This “anabolic resistance” represents a key factor responsible for the age-related decline in skeletal muscle mass.
Is there any way to at least slow down these problems with protein synthesis and the resulting loss of muscle mass? You may already know that long-term resistance exercise training is effective as a means of boosting skeletal muscle mass and improving functional performance as you age.
(For more info, read Keep Your Bones Strong with This Activity.)
The research team suggests there’s another piece to the puzzle: you need to consume different types of protein. In particular, different types of protein hydrolysates can have different effects on muscle protein synthesis in the elderly. Protein hydrolysates generally have a higher rate of digestion and absorption.
Protein hydrolysate is a mixture of amino acids prepared by splitting a protein with acid, alkali, or enzyme. It’s often used as a fluid and nutrient replenisher by medical professionals when dealing with a seriously ill patient. Aprotein hydrolysate preparation provides the nutritive equivalent of the original substance, with all the amino acids intact. According to the researchers, it should be used in special diets for older adults who are losing the ability to synthesize ordinary food proteins.
Investigate protein hydrolysate a little more closely — it may prove to be the perfect anti-aging solution for your muscles.