Hustle For That Muscle!
By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder
If you haven’t checked out actress Jada Pinkett Smith’s mother, Adrienne Banfield-Norris (formerly Banfield-Jones), Google her now! The 60-something Banfield-Norris is in such incredible shape that even her son-in-law, Will Smith, can’t believe it.
Yes, she is beautiful. But what impresses me the most is how muscular her body is.
(According to Harvard Medical School, after age 30, you begin to experience muscle loss as much as three to five percent per decade).
Take a look at this article with a photo of Banfield-Norris with her daughter and granddaughter at the gym. She has well defined abdominal and bicep muscles. In addition to this, she practically “broke the internet” when bikini photos of her surfaced online at ages 61 and 64, showing off her chiseled abs.
There’s no denying that Banfield-Norris looks amazing, but there is so much more to having muscle besides looking good and being able to pick up heavy objects.
The human body has more than 600 muscles! (Your heart is actually a muscle).
“These muscles help you move, lift things, pump blood through your body, and even help you breathe,” reports the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.
“Keeping your muscles healthy will help you to be able to walk, run, jump, lift things, play sports, and do all the other things you love to do. Exercising, getting enough rest, and eating a balanced diet will help to keep your muscles healthy for life.”
We previously blogged about age-related muscle loss, more formally called sarcopenia. One of the reasons elderly people may be more prone to falls is due to the muscle loss they experience with aging. Not only does a lack of muscle make you weak, but it may also affect your balance.
“Every second of every day, an older adult (age 65+) suffers a fall in the U.S.—making falls the leading cause of injury and injury death in this age group,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If you are young and thinking that you don’t have to worry about this now, remember that we all naturally start experiencing significant muscle loss and function after the age of 30. The sooner you start addressing this by following a healthy, active lifestyle, the better.
Now, a recent study sheds light on yet even more reasons to be proactive about keeping your muscles in top shape. Nutrition expert Carla Prado has thoroughly examined potential dangers of low muscle mass across different body types.
According to one report discussing Prado’s work, she reviewed nearly 150 published studies over one year and found that patients with low muscle mass experience more complications, have longer hospital stays and lower survival rates.
"Muscle is very important for movement and balance, for posture, strength and power, but it's also a reservoir of amino acids," Prado said, in the report. "The more you lose, the greater the consequences."
The NIH reports that amino acids and proteins are the “building blocks of life.” Basically, our bodies use amino acids to make proteins in order to help the body break down food, grow, repair tissue and execute many other functions.
“Chemotherapy, for example, is often administered based on body weight, leaving patients with obesity and low muscle mass at a higher risk of toxicity. But she also thinks nutrition has the potential to transform care simply by focusing on maintaining and building muscle.”
(Keep in mind, skinny people can have low muscle mass as well).
Furthermore, “That lost muscle has many important roles beyond mobility, including regulating hormones, metabolic functions and organ function.”
The report also says that an elderly patient can lose more than a kilogram of muscle after spending just three days in a hospital. In addition to this, a 10-day hospital stay can result in a healthy adult losing five percent of their total muscle mass. This percentage can rise up to 18 if in the intensive care unit (ICU).
So you can lose muscle very quickly, and it takes a lot of work to gain it back.
“You can lose it so fast, but rebuilding it takes months," Prado said. "Can you imagine one kilo, trying to put that on in a week or so? It's almost impossible."
Her research showed that 10 percent muscle loss led to a less healthy immune system and an increased risk of infection. (And a strong immune system is very important when fighting cancer and undergoing chemotherapy treatments).
And even more scary…
“Twenty percent means weakness and slowed healing; 30 percent leaves a patient too weak to sit. A loss of 40 percent is often fatal.”
Yes, a lack of muscle has the potential to be fatal.
So, in my opinion, I think it’s pretty evident that dietary intervention when it comes to cancer treatment and treating other illnesses (especially ones that may require extended hospital stays) may be key. This is not the first time nutritional therapy has been suggested by a doctor or healthcare professional, but I think it’s very eye-opening that this particular study focuses on the role of muscle mass. And as I mentioned, maintaining muscle mass is something we can be proactive about before (heaven forbid) we get sick.
"We take nutrition for granted, but it's truly important," Prado said. "Just like we need oxygen to breathe, our muscles need protein and amino acids to grow."
Don’t focus on the number on the scale.
Once again, we see how health cannot be measured by the number on the scale. You can be at a healthy weight but still have an unhealthy amount of body fat and not enough muscle. (You can read more about this in this pH Labs blog).
May I also suggest taking the pH Body Composition test. You’ll walk away from this test knowing exactly how much fat you need to lose or gain, how much muscle you need, how many calories your body burns and how hydrated you are.
How else can you be proactive and hustle for that muscle?
Jada Pinkett Smith’s mom was not just “blessed with good genes.” She works hard in the gym and by the looks of it, eats a healthy, high-nutrient diet.
Of course, nutrition plays a role in helping prevent muscle loss. Consuming enough protein may be particularly important.
“Protein is the king of muscle food. The body breaks it down into amino acids, which it uses to build muscle,” reports Harvard Health.
Older adults, who do resistance training, may need 1 to 1.3 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. Other research shows that some older adults may need a “protein intervention.”
And eating an overall nutrient-rich diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables is imperative to help prevent age-related muscle loss. Minerals and vitamins such as calcium, magnesium and vitamin D may help maintain strong, healthy bones. And your bones protect your internal organs and provide support for your muscles.
Finally, schedule routine nutrient tests in order to identify any nutrient imbalances or deficiencies you may have. If the test reveals you have too much or too little of a certain nutrient, a competent healthcare professional can work with you on making the necessary dietary changes and recommend quality supplements if necessary.
It’s also important to note that as we get older, along with naturally losing muscle our bodies may also have more difficulty absorbing nutrients from the foods we eat, which is why it is especially important to undergo nutrient testing and discuss supplementation with a competent healthcare professional.
Enjoy your healthy life!
The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.