Living long and living well are two entirely different things and with the number of aged population increasing at an alarming rate, improving the quality of life for them is becoming a priority for geriatric scientists. Muscle atrophy or sarcopenia is the most visible affliction that occurs due to reduction in muscle mass and its proteins, especially Myosin. If such age related changes in muscle can be prevented, it is possible to reduce the onset of diabetes and obesity associated disorders, contributing to better quality of life. A better understanding of the protein synthesis in the muscle probably may help to reverse their degeneration and degradation during aging.
According to a recent estimate the world population can reach the staggering figure of 9.1 billion by the year 2050, a whopping increase of more than 30% of the current population. With mortality rate dramatically coming down and longevity reaching unprecedented levels, the proportion of people with age beyond 60 may reach 21% in 2050, compared to 10 per cent in 2000. A population with gross disability to look after themselves can be a handicap for any country striving to achieve all round development. Of course there are many well being foods, geriatric formulations and health programs for rejuvenating the body but most of these are commercially motivated with no guaranteed results.
During aging process the muscle production rate declines progressively and this results in lesser muscle mass available for carrying out the routine physical activity. The age at which muscle atrophy begins varies widely over a range and depends on genetic factors, dietary practices and the level of physical activity. As muscle and its protein content diminish, fatigue sets in more easily and frequently leading to a sedentary life style. Such a situation if not allowed to develop and the slow down can be reversed through appropriate diet and exercise, an active life style can be ensured. Adding another dimension to this problem is the propensity of the body to develop the much dreaded metabolic syndrome when the muscle atrophy starts due to body's inability to spend the calories resulting in abdominal obesity. Excess weight is known to cause glucose intolerance or resistance to insulin action. Metabolic syndrome also involves changes in lipid levels, hyper tension and increased clotting tendency which can lead to cardiovascular deaths.
If the age related changes in muscle can be prevented, the onset of Type II diabetes and obesity can also be avoided. Against the above background it is being felt that a concerted effort must be mounted to evaluate the potential of synergizing protein intake and exercise to stave off the gradual decline in muscle strength and function for this growing age group. Maintaining an optimal body composition and adequate muscle mass during the lifespan can be expected to enhance significantly the general physical performance and the overall quality of life. Food plays a critical role in maintaining health and assessing scientifically the impact of nutrition and exercise on the quality and quantity of muscle mass can also help to evolve optimally designed foods for young adults whose performance can be enhanced. Major players who are presently peddling different types of health foods can be expected to jump into the fray for coming out with scientifically established geriatric foods that can stop muscle atrophy and give hope for senior denizens for a better quality life.