Sarcopenia

Sarcopenia has become exceedingly common among older people. Almost 10% of adults above 50 are affected by it. Sarcopenia is characterized by muscle loss, that can decrease both the quality of life, as well as life expectancy. However, the good news is that sarcopenia can be prevented and reversed in certain cases. Indeed, sarcopenia is often related to aging of an individual, and therefore is a natural consequence of growing older; some of the causes that lead to sarcopenia can be prevented. A healthy diet and regular exercise regime are germane in reversing sarcopenia, thereby increasing both the lifespan and the quality of life.

Sarcopenia literally means “lack of flesh.” To understand how this occurs we need to delve deep into the life cycle of a cell. Like everything in Nature, growth and decay are inherent to the cells as well. The process by which cell grows is called “anabolism” and the process of teardown of cell is called “catabolism”. Sarcopenia happens when this natural cycle is tilted in favour of catabolism. We have growth hormones in our bodies. These hormones help counteract the effects of injury or stress, and keep muscle steady by healing them. This goes on inside our bodies throughout our lives. However, as we grow older, our bodies become resistant to normal growth signals. This further results in tipping the balance towards catabolism and muscle loss. The degeneration of muscle becomes more common among people above fifty. After middle-age, a person, on an average, loses 3% of their muscle strength in a year. And therefore, as he becomes older, the ability of performing many daily routines decreases, along with decreasing muscle strength.

Causes: Sarcopenia is mostly caused by a decrease in physical activity. However, although less frequent, some people with a very active physical life may also develop sarcopenia, which points to other probable reasons for this disease.

In addition to decreased physical activity the following might cause sarcopenia:

  • Decline in nerve cells that send signals from the brain to the muscle to move.
  • Reduction in the hormone levels
  • A lowered capacity of our body to convert protein to energy
  • Lack in protein and daily calorie consumption that help maintain muscle mass

Symptoms

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Symptoms of sarcopenia is not uniform among the people it affects. It depends entirely on how much muscle mass a person has lost. Some of the common symptoms include:

  • a decline in muscle mass
  • loss of endurance
  • weakness
  • decrease in balance
  • trouble climbing stairs

The most debilitating part of developing sarcopenia is the spiral decline it causes. As one develops sarcopenia, his physical movement decreases, which in turn further exacerbates sarcopenia. This cycle continues resulting in weakness, increase the risk of falling, and most importantly limits one’s physical independence. Sarcopenia can adversely affect one’s life quality and therefore, a decline in muscle mass is something we should be extremely mindful about.

Dietary management for sarcopenia 

Diet plays an important role in the management of sarcopenia. If someone takes a calorie deficient diet, or has insufficient quantity of protein and certain other vitamins or minerals, she stands at a higher risk of muscle loss. For those who aren’t nutrient deficient, focus on taking higher proportion of certain types of foods that promote muscle growth can be beneficial.

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  1. Protein: An increased proportion of protein in the diet directly signals muscles to enhance building and strengthening itself. With age this signal weakens and much higher quantity of protein is needed for muscle growth. The amino acid leucine is enormously helpful in regulating muscle growth. Whey protein, eggs, fish, meat, and soy proteins are good sources of leucine.

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  2. Vitamin D: Deficiency in Vitamin D is extremely widespread among older people, and this lack supersedes racial and geographical boundaries. As a person gets older the levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)] is decreased, which further results in the lowering of muscle strength. Vitamin D levels, therefore, should be regularly monitored and necessary supplementation must be given.

    Photo by Malidate Van from Pexels
  3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids : Irrespective of one’s age, studies have found that consumption of omega-3 fatty acid rich foods, through seafood and supplements are enormously beneficial in facilitating muscle growth. The anti-inflammatory nature of omega-3 fatty acid foods might be contributive as well.
  4. Creatine: Creatine is a protein found in the liver that help in muscle growth. Our bodies make enough creatine; however, studies have found that having creatine through meat or as supplement help in muscle growth. However, creatine should be used in tandem with exercise to make it more beneficial to us.

Exercise regime for preventing and reversing sarcopenia

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Regular exercise might be the single most beneficial way to fight sarcopenia. The more active our muscles are, the lesser are the chances of succumbing to sarcopenia. For optimal results and even for reversing sarcopenia a combination regime of aerobic exercise, resistance training and balance training is needed.

Resistance training: Resistance training includes weightlifting, pulling against resistance bands and other exercise where our bodies muscles need to counteract gravity. The tension produced in muscles fibers during resistance training results in generating growth signal that in turn helps in increasing muscle strength. Resistance exercise also help in producing growth-promoting hormones.

Fitness Training: Exercise that helps to increase heart-rate, when combined with resistance and flexibility training can control and reverse sarcopenia. A fitness regime would include these combinations to deliver the most productive outcome against sarcopenia.

Walking: Walking is an exercise that many of us ordinarily do. A more regular walking schedule can be extremely helpful, in addition to other exercise in controlling and reversing sarcopenia.

When we think about muscle loss, especially among older people, we do not take the problem seriously. But very few things can be as detrimental to the quality of life as losing physical independence and sarcopenia does exactly that. Food N Wellness understands how debilitating sarcopenia can be, and hence have carefully designed a geriatric program that aims at preventing and reversing sarcopenia through dedicatedly curated diet and exercise regime.

4 common myths debunked!

With so much of nutrition advice out there, everyone seems to have an opinion on what to eat and what not to eat. People do become a victim in believeing the food myths and nutrition quacks which is being followed blindly since years as old wives tales. Here we bring you the truth behind four common food myths:

Myth 1- Drinking more cups of Green Tea leads to more fat burning.

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Fact: Fat is burned when metabolism is good. Metabolism is a process which converts food into energy, as a fuel to carry out different body functions. For weight loss to happen, you need to eat a calorie deficit diet. Calorie deficit means the energy expenditure is more than the calorie consumption.
– Green tea has an antioxidant named catechins which increases your metabolism and thereby fat burning. But, catechins play a small role in increasing your total energy expenditure.
Studies have shown that 2 cups of green tea increases 4.5% energy expenditure. Let’s understand this- If a person consume 1500 kcal, then 4.5% is only 60 calories which is negligible.
– If you try to consume 5-6 cups in a day, the high caffeine content makes you dehydrated and acidic. Rather than increasing your metabolism, it slows down. So there is no ‘extra’ fat burning when you consume more!
– So it is better to try other ways of increasing metabolism rather than just sticking to drinking green tea
JUST FOR LAUGHS: You will lose weight alone from green tea only if you go to mountains and pick it up for yourself!!!!!

 

Myth 2- Homemade ghee makes you fat and is unhealthy!

Photo courtesy: The Hindu.com

Fact: Homemade Ghee is rich in Conjugated Linoleic acid (CLA). CLA helps you to mobilise and burn the stubborn fat thereby help you to lose weight. So always, add a spoon of ghee to your meal plate.
– Ghee is rich in Butyric acid. Butyric acid is a short chain fatty acid which promotes the growth of good bacteria in stomach, balances the quantity of hydrochloric acid produced in stomach ( improves the acidity issue) and helps in bile production in liver.
– Ghee is rich in DHA, a type of omega-3 fatty acid essential for brain development. Our body cannot make these fats and so important to get from food sources.
– Ghee is rich in Vitamin E- so being good to hair and skin.

 

Myth 3- Doing a detox diet after a binge day will nullify the cheat calories.

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Fact: A big NO!! Detox diets only remove toxins from the body but not fat. Detox process will make you lose water weight and not fat weight. So the moment you stop doing it after a day or two the lost weight will bounce back.
– When we binge, we end up eating more than required, later punish the body with working out extra hours or starve the body using detox techniques. You deprive the body of its primary fuel that is energy, mind becomes lethargic.
– Detox also leads to muscle loss. Only in presence of sufficient muscle content our body burns calories. If the muscle content goes down, metabolism is slow, calories don’t get burned and there is no sustainable weight loss.
– Body has its own limitation on how many calories will be burned on a daily basis. So f you go for detox every now and then, you won’t see any desirable effects. Better is to eat mindfully when binging, as brain will signal on where to stop.

 

Myth 4- People who are thin don’t need to exercise!

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Fact: The most common and widely accepted myth. Exercises are done to remain fit and healthy. Being thin does not qualify as being healthy. Everyone needs to workout. However, the type of exercise and its intensity will vary depending upon the person’s health and fitness goals.
– Muscles are denser and weigh more than the fat. Example, if you pour 1 spoon of oil/ghee in water it will float and any meat or muscle source poured into water will settle at the bottom.
Often, thin people have the same percentage of fat as the person who actually looks fat. This is because the person who looks thin usually has least amount of muscles and thus, the body weight is lesser as muscles are very dense.
– Thin people need to aim at gaining muscles. One can practice strength training exercises at home like crunches, walking lunges, push ups, squats, triceps dips & etc focusing on increasing the reps and sets in a periodic manner.

Why Stretching is important for your Body

Whether you are a fitness enthusiast or someone who loves to exercise the brain more than the body, one of the most important things to do is to recognize the importance of stretching as an everyday activity.

Stretching regularly immensely benefits your joints and your muscles keeping them flexible and strong.

Flexibility being an important aspect of fitness is achieved best by including stretching in your fitness regimen.

WHY IS STRETCHING NECESSARY BEFORE EXERCISING

Stretching is the first step before you begin any workout. It prepares your body for the exercise routine, be it Yoga or athletics. It helps us prep our body for the action.

Stretching gives your joints the freedom to use their entire range of movement. The flexibility you achieve through stretching gives you freedom from restricting certain movements, or motions, and allows you to test the limits of your joints or muscles.

BENEFITS OF STRETCHING

HELPS YOU IN ANY PHYSICAL ACTIVITY:

Be it an athletic activity or your everyday routine, stretching is the warm-up your body needs to ease itself into any movement.

The first thing you do on waking up is to stretch yourself. This helps get rid of any stiffness you might experience upon waking and also increases the blood flow. You could say stretching awakens your muscles and joints to help them get you started!

TIPS:

*For relieving stiffness in your legs or feet:

1) Sit on the bed with your legs in front of you and your hands straight behind you, supporting you.

2) Stretch your feet by pointing the toes outwards and inwards for a few times.

3) Next, rotate your toes clockwise and anti-clockwise.

*For relieving stiffness in back:

1) Lie on the bed without your pillow and place your hands by your sides. Bend your knees with your feet flat on the bed.

2) Slowly, lift your torso with your head still on the bed so that your chest, torso, and your thighs are in a line, your feet firmly on the bed, and your hands flat on the bed, supporting you. Breathe easy for a few seconds and come back with your back on the bed. Do it twice, as slowly as possible. Do not hurry.

3) Finally, lie on your back with your legs stretched in front of you, the way you sleep, and focus on your breathing. This exercise gives relief from back pain, neck pain, and opens up the chest.

HELPS IMPROVE YOUR POSTURE AND GIVES RELIEF FROM BACK PAIN:

A correct posture is necessary for the proper functioning of our body, for maintaining our balance and keeping the back pain-free.

TIPS:

*To help improve your posture and strengthen your spine:

1) Get down on all fours, like a cat. Place the knees slightly apart. Breathe in and push your torso towards the floor so that your spine is arched. Turn your head up and look at the ceiling.

2) Inhale and exhale thrice before straightening the spine.

3) Next, breathe in and turn your head down to look at the floor and your back arched upwards towards the ceiling, like a cat when it stretches its body. Inhale and exhale thrice before returning to the normal position.

This gentle stretching exercise works on the spine improves your posture and gives relief from neck and back pain.

CALMS AN ANXIOUS MIND:

To find relief from anxiety, the first thing you need to do is to breathe deeply. Stretching helps you focus on your breathing as you exercise your body. This gives your mind a moment away from anxiety by helping you focus on breathing and being mindful of the moment.

Stress affects the way we carry ourselves. Our muscles tend to get tensed and this results in aches and pains. Stretching gently helps the muscles in reducing the tension in those areas.

TIPS:

*To ease the tension buildup in your neck and shoulders:

1).Turn your head up and then bend down a few times. Bend your neck side to side a few times, slowly and gently, without jerking the neck.

2).Rotate your shoulders clockwise and anti-clockwise a few times.

3) Push your shoulders to the back and your chest to the front for a few seconds and come back to the same position. These stretching exercises relieve tension in the shoulders and neck and help you calm down, too.

Pedal towards Healthy Lifestyle

United Nations has assigned 3rd June as World Bicycle Day, to promote the benefits of health, better environment and sustainable development. This year choose to celebrate this day for the betterment of your health and do your bit towards our planet, Earth.

Generally most of us learn to bike at a very young age, but do not pursue this hobby for a long time. Let’s make bicycles our companion and make it a habit in our day to day life as much as possible. This will benefit you in protection from serious diseases such as stroke, heart attack, some cancers, depression, diabetes, obesity and arthritis.
Riding a bike is not only healthy but also fun for all ages.

Cycling for health and fitness

  • It only takes two to four hours a week to achieve a general improvement to your health. Cycling is:
  • Low impact – it causes less strain and injuries than most other forms of exercise
  • A good muscle workout – cycling uses all of the major muscle groups as you pedal
  • Easy – unlike some other sports, cycling does not require high levels of physical skill
  • Good for strength and stamina

As intense as you want – cycling can be done at very low intensity to begin with, if recovering from injury or illness, but can be built up to a demanding physical workout
The health benefits of regular cycling include: increased cardiovascular fitness, increased muscle strength and flexibility, improved joint mobility and decreased stress levels. It also improves posture and coordination, strengthens bones and decreases body fat levels. Cycling is also a good factor for reduced anxiety and depression. This habit once cultivated is going to a blessing factor in life.

Cycling in Kuala Lumpur
Get to know the real Malaysia with original bike tours from Mike Bikes. Mike Bikes arranges for bicycle guided tours where you are taken to landmark places of KL, the tour is filled with fun, excitement, culture and a lot of cycling. Learn about the city’s history and choose a tour based on your convenience of day and night. Hop on the orange bike and smile towards a fun filled healthy activity.

Source: Mike Bikes
Some of the other local guides are Bike with Elena or KL by Bicycle, these guides are designed for families and experienced cyclists. KL is rich with beautiful parks too, which make it an amazing place to enjoy a ride: Perdana Botanical Gardens, Desa Park City Central Park, Shah Alam National Botanical Park, Bukit Kiara Park @ TTDI and many more. In most of the parks you can rent a bikes which are in good condition and available economically.
If cycling outdoors is not feasible for you, you can always try stationary bike at the gym/home or take some spinning classes. Spinning classes are done in group and these are fun, energetic and filled with some great music.
Some of the spin classes in Kl are: Aloha Cycle Club, Peak Fitness, Cycology, and Fly Cycle. This is a more intense version of stationary bike and leads to a full body workout.

Source: Aloha Cycles
Spinning classes are for everyone, and there’s no faster way to burn over 600 calories in less than an hour – and it’s all as easy as riding a bike.
Cycling outdoor or indoor will lead to a fitter you, choose your option and adapt this lifestyle today.

Gallstones

Gallstones are small stones, usually made of cholesterol, that form in the gallbladder. In most cases they don’t cause any symptoms and don’t need to be treated.

However, if a gallstone becomes trapped in a duct (opening) inside the gallbladder it can trigger a sudden intense abdominal pain that usually lasts between one and five hours. This type of abdominal pain is known as biliary colic.

Some people with gallstones can also develop complications, such as inflammation of the gallbladder (cholecystitis), which can cause:

  • persistent pain
  • jaundice
  • a fever

 

When gallstones cause symptoms or complications, it is known as gallstone disease or cholelithiasis.

 

 

gall

The gallbladder

The gallbladder is a small, pouch-like organ found underneath the liver. Its main purpose is to store and concentrate bile.

Bile is a liquid produced by the liver to help digest fats. It’s passed from the liver through a series of channels, known as bile ducts, into the gallbladder.

The bile is stored in the gallbladder and over time it becomes more concentrated, which makes it better at digesting fats. The gallbladder releases bile into the digestive system when it’s needed.

Causes of gallstones

Gallstones are thought to be caused by an imbalance in the chemical make-up of bile inside the gallbladder. Bile is a liquid produced by the liver to aid digestion.

It’s still unclear exactly what leads to this imbalance, but gallstones can form if:

  • there are unusually high levels of cholesterol inside the gallbladder (about four in every five gallstones are made up of cholesterol)
  • there are unusually high levels of a waste product called bilirubin inside the gallbladder (about one in every five gallstones is made up of bilirubin)

These chemical imbalances cause tiny crystals to develop in the bile. These can gradually grow (often over many years) into solid stones that can be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a pebble.

Sometimes only one stone will form, but there are often several at the same time.

Gallstones are very common. You’re more at risk of developing gallstones if you’re:

  • overweight or obese
  • female, particularly if you’ve had children
  • 40 or over (the risk increases as you get older)

Treating gallstones

Treatment is usually only necessary if gallstones are causing:

  • symptoms – such as abdominal pain
  • complications – such as jaundice or  acute pancreatitis

In these cases, keyhole surgery to remove the gallbladder may be recommended. This procedure, known as a laparoscopic cholecystectomy, is relatively simple to perform and has a low risk of complications.

You can lead a perfectly normal life without a gallbladder. Your liver will still produce bile to digest food, but the bile will just drip continuously into the small intestine, rather than build up in the gallbladder.

Who’s at risk?

Gallstones are more common if you:

  • are female, particularly if you’ve had children, are taking the combined Pill, or are undergoing high-dose oestrogen therapy
  • are overweight or obese
  • are aged 40 years or older (the older you are, the more likely you are to develop gallstones)
  • have a condition that affects the flow of bile – such as cirrhosis (scarring of the liver), primary sclerosing cholangitis, or obstetric cholestasis
  • have Crohn’s disease or irritable bowel syndrome(IBS)
  • have a close family member who’s also had gallstones
  • have recently lost weight (from either dieting or weight-loss surgery)

Preventing gallstones

From the limited evidence available, changes to your diet and losing weight (if you’re overweight) may help prevent gallstones.

Diet

Because of the role cholesterol appears to play in the formation of gallstones, it is advisable to avoid eating too many fatty foods with high cholesterol content.

A healthy, balanced diet is recommended which includes plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

There’s also evidence that regularly eating nuts, such as peanuts or cashews, can help reduce your risk of developing gallstones.

Losing weight

Being overweight, particularly being obese, increases the amount of cholesterol in your bile, which increases your risk of developing gallstones. You should control your weight by eating a healthy diet and regular exercise.

High Blood Pressure

Hypertension or High Blood Pressure: The silent killer

Hypertension, or an abnormally high blood pressure, is almost as common as common cold in the present times. However, this abundance is not the worst manifestation of this medical condition. It is rather the fact that it comes and stays without prior warnings, which means there are no specific symptoms to signal its presence. It is a long term medical condition and one can be affected for years without having the knowledge of it.

The fact that it does not announce its presence with symptoms makes it difficult to identify and hence treat. Some people report headaches or dizziness but these can’t be considered as symptoms directly associated with high blood pressure.

There are two categories of Hypertension:

Primary or Essential, where the cause is mostly unknown and symptoms almost absent; and

Secondary, which suggests sustained stage of the same where it is accompanied by additional signs and symptoms. These additional symptoms are of medical conditions that coexist with hypertension, that are also deemed to be the cause of it. The prevalent cause of secondary hypertension is kidney diseases, but hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, Cushing syndrome and other endocrine conditions are also potential causes.

Although apparently harmless initially, a prolonged state of hypertension can be damaging in two ways— increased work load on the heart, and its effect on arteries. The increase work load on the heart causes the size of tissue of the cardiac muscles to expand. As the state of hypertension progresses, the heart becomes weaker. This wear and tear ultimately leads to a plethora of hypertensive heart diseases, coronary and peripheral artery diseases, stroke and chronic kidney diseases, causing multiple organ damage.

Like in most medical conditions, hypertension too should ideally be nabbed at the primary stage before it progresses to cause additional damage to the body. Experts advise regular health check-ups to keep track of the blood pressure, especially if you have a family history of hypertension behind you. Although mostly unknown, the following have been loosely considered causes of primary hypertension:

  • Aging
  • Genetics
  • Obesity
  • Lack of exercise
  • Stress
  • Depression
  • Maternal smoking and lack of breastfeeding in women

Nutrition and exercise: The role of well-balanced lifestyle in a condition of hypertension

At the primary stage, the few causes that can be kept in check are obesity, stress, depression and poor choice of lifestyle. The role of nutritional management in keeping a medical condition of hypertension, therefore, is paramount. A gradual weight loss in overweight obese individuals and maintenance of body weight slightly below normal levels is what one should aim for when targeting hypertension at the essential level. Expert-monitored diet plans that are crafted to individual need, coupled with regular aerobic physical activity, like brisk walking and light jogging are instrumental in maintaining a healthy lifestyle so as to check the onset of complications in a medical condition that arrives unannounced but leaves behind damaging consequences.

 

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