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National Nutrition Week: Harnessing The Power Of Nutrition For Healthy, Strong Muscles

Dr Irfan Shaikh shares the relationship between muscle health and nutrition and why even the most robust exercise regimes will be ineffective if not supported with the correct nutritional intake.

Written by Tavishi Dogra |Published : September 7, 2022 6:39 PM IST

Healthy muscles are generally likened to visible outward, such as cosmetic appearances like a ripped body or washboard abs. But that isn't wholly true. Healthy muscles are more than skin deep; their significance is even more profound. Healthy muscles are essential in maintaining strength and the ability to do everyday activities that make life meaningful and fulfilling. Conversely, poor muscle health can slowly affect a person's ability to continue doing even the most minor daily activities that are taken for granted, such as walking or breathing. Regarding keeping your muscles strong and healthy, nutrition and exercise are the two pillars. Dr Irfan Shaikh, Head of Medical & Scientific Affairs at Abbott's Nutrition business, shares more about the relationship between muscle health and nutrition and why even the most robust exercise regimes will be ineffective if not supported with the correct nutritional intake.

Muscles Are Never At Rest

While younger people can typically offset natural breakdown, the balance can shift with age. We lose about 8% of our muscle mass per decade, starting as early as 40 years. Typical symptoms of decline in muscle health include fatigue, loss of strength and energy, poor mobility and a weaker immunity shield.

Nutrition To Feed Your Muscles

Losing muscle is natural, but its rate of progression and adverse effects don't have to be. Nutrition and muscle health go hand in hand. After all, food fuels every cell in your body and supports your muscles for strength. So adequate nutrition and a balanced diet are great ways to support muscle health. But no single food provides all the nutrients needed for good health, so eating various foods is essential.

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Here are some methods in which you can be more mindful of your nutrition intake and build and protect muscles:

  1. Make breakfast a priority:Breakfast is the most common meal to miss, given the scarcity of time, but this is the powerhouse of nutrition that your body needs to take on the day ahead. Eating a well-rounded meal in the morning with nutrient-dense foods like eggs, dairy, whole grains, and fruit can help fill you up while keeping energy levels high. Food options like cottage cheese, tuna, lentils and almonds are other great alternatives.
  2. Create time for physical exercise: Regular physical activity can go a long way in making muscles stronger. You can begin by including simple activities like walking, swimming, cycling, jogging, weightlifting, recreational sports or even climbing stairs in your daily routine. Just an hour of physical activity daily can contribute tremendously to muscle strength and health.
  3. Ensure you meet your daily protein needs: Consuming up to 25 to 30 grams of protein per meal (along with physical activity) can help your body optimize the use of protein for muscle building and repair throughout the day. Getting the recommended protein intake each day can be achieved by eating various foods, including meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, tofu and beans.
  4. Learn more about a lesser-known ingredient HMB: Several studies have demonstrated the benefits of beta-hydroxy-beta-methyl butyrate (HMB) supplementation, alone or in combination with exercise, for maintaining and restoring lean body mass, muscle strength and function in adults. As scientific as that sounds, HMB has been part of your diet for a long time without you even knowing about it in foods like avocado, grapefruit and cauliflower. Specialized nutrition supplements featuring HMB are good supporting add-ons to ensure that you get the adequate amount of HMB needed to support muscle health.

As adults age, muscle loss and slower recovery times might seem daunting. However, incorporating the right nutritional supplements into their diet can help avoid the so-called downfalls of ageing and build muscle mass to retain mobility, strength and energy levels as we age.

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