Published on September 30th, 2019 | by Dr. Doug Pucci0
Weight and Age-Related Connections
by Doug Pucci
As we get older, our bodies tend to put on weight because our metabolism slows down, and many of us try to fight against that natural change. A lot of what we experience as putting on weight is a change in muscle tone and buildup of visceral fat around our internal organs.
Though people today stay more active and are no longer heading for rocking chairs and retirement like they used to, health, mobility and pain issues are problems. It’s true that we need fewer calories as we once did, but more importantly, we’re not building muscle at the same rate. Other factors do contribute, such as prescription corticosteroids, antipsychotics and antidepressants.
A little extra weight, particularly over age 60, can be a good thing—it’s even considered protective against certain illnesses and might cushion against some falls. That said, excessive weight gain or constant fluctuations in weight are risk factors for chronic disease. We don’t need to take drastic measures to achieve and maintain a healthy weight at an older age, and diet alone isn’t the answer. As a standalone strategy, cutting calories affects muscle mass, causing it to deteriorate. Elderly slips and falls are a leading cause of emergency room visits and death. As often as not, it’s lack of muscle strength and agility that would normally prevent the fall.
A three-pronged approach to weight for staying fit and healthy include muscle-building /calorie burning exercise, proper protein intake and diet modification. The risk of Type 2 diabetes decreases considerably as optimal body weight is achieved; an overweight person that loses even seven percent of body weight lowers that risk by more than half— and as excess weight is lost, activities that promote muscle building become easier.
Fad diets and temporary caloric adjustments won’t work. Any shift to a healthier diet needs to be sustainable and permanent. A good step toward eating nutrient-dense calories that fuel the body is to start the day with a hearty, cooked breakfast, followed by a smoothie or protein shake midmorning. Add muscle-building, calorie burning exercises for a winning combination.
As we get older, protein becomes even more important for stimulating muscle protein synthesis and stabilizing blood sugar; it’s estimated that about .6 grams of protein daily per pound of body weight is necessary. Including proper portions of healthy proteins (not protein bars) at each meal will accomplish this. And by rounding out meals with a variety of fresh vegetables, vitamins like C, B12 and D, which are important for healthy muscles, bones, blood and nerve cells, will be acquired.
These are just a few simple, safe ways of achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight as we age, which can help us continue doing the things we enjoy for years to come.
Dr. Doug Pucci, DC, FAAIM, adheres to a functional medicine approach with patients and believes in treating underlying, root causes of disease. In practice, he provides nutrition, advanced testing for hormones and gut microbiome, blood testing, epigenetics and brain/body well-being. For more information, call 201-261-5430 or visit GetWell-Now.com.