It can a self-fulfilling prophecy to tell ourselves that it is normal to become fat, frail, and weak as we grow older. Ironically it is that belief itself that prohibits us from putting in the effort to keep ourselves fit and healthy, thus making the fear our reality. It does not have to be this way though; in this article, I will discuss the reasons we see a correlation between age and a decline in one’s physique and the solutions to solve the issues they bring about:
1.) Our Cells Fail to Regenerate Effectively:
It is true that as we get older, our cells get worse at making perfect copies of themselves which leads to imperfections and cells not being specialized for the specific function. This affects everything from our metabolism (The ability to properly break down and digest food) to our capacity to build quality muscle and bone. This is the inevitable aging that people talk about but it in fact only constitutes less than half of age-related physical decline, not the whole pie. It is theorized that this cell proliferation problem causes an increase in an enzyme that inhibits a muscle’s stem cells which makes up most of the age-related muscle wasting.
Scientists are in fact working on a specific solution to this problem by targeting the enzyme that increases with age (Known as Nicotinamide N-methyltransferase) and effectively stopping it from working, thus allowing the body to produce the same muscle stem cells it had in early youth. The drug (Known as RT-001) that can do this is predicted to be released within the next decade to the general public. It has the possibility to reduce sarcopenia completely.
2.) Our Lifestyles Trend Towards Inactivity:
This is the second biggest contributor for good reasons: As we get older, we have more responsibilities and end up having less time for recreational sports, the gym, cooking healthy meals, or even for wanting to look good anymore. The only problem with this is that how we look often reflects our inner health as well. Many people see the case as hopeless so end up giving up on staying active entirely. It is understandable but it is definitely a big component of why people atrophy into old age, even if an immortal 20-year-old did the same thing for 40 years, they would atrophy.
To remind oneself that staying active is important no matter one’s age and that the benefits will continue to pay dividends in the future. Any physical activity that one does could extend one’s quality of life substantially, making your final years on this earth much more pleasant and effortless.
3.) Sex Hormones Tend to Decrease:
This is not as prevalent as people tend to think and It does not affect everybody as many people assume. However, it does happen to a large majority of people as they age, the direct reasoning is still unknown due to many differing variables. Testosterone in particular is vital for muscle building, maintenance and strength. While estrogen is vital for the elasticity and recovery of muscle tissue. Human Growth Hormone is also a vital component in optimal bone health and retaining lean mass. Without these vital hormones, it makes achieving our health goals is substantially more difficult.
After the age of 45, everyone should get their hormone levels tested to ensure that they are in an adequate range for optimal health and wellbeing. If not, hormone replacement therapy has become very popular and is very effective in restoring these sex hormones to the levels that people had prior in their youth.
4.) A Regulating Protein (Myostatin) Tends to Increase:
Our body produces this protein to ensure that the body does not put on too much muscle mass too quickly or too much muscle mass overall. This protein for some reason tends to increase as we age further inhibiting our ability to grow new muscle mass.
There are multiple supplements that claim to decrease myostatin levels, but their efficacy is still yet to be determined. There is a drug that is part of the class known as Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators called Yk-11 that has been scientifically proven to greatly reduce serum levels of this protein. It is still in animal trials, and it will be a while until it clears into human trials but once it does then this could become an option for those suffering from sarcopenia (Age-related muscle loss).
As you can see there are many factors that are slightly out of our locus of control and then there are those that are still within it. It is important to focus on what we can change until we can capitalize on the new medicine that will help us stay strong and fit well into old age.