At a time when keeping our immune systems strong has never been more important, researchers have highlighted the little-known link between muscle health and immunity.
Safeguarding muscle mass is especially important as we age. Research in older adults has shown that lower muscle mass coupled with inadequate protein intake may affect the body’s response to an injury or infection.
Founding president of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Sarcopenia and Frailty Research, geriatrician and chair of medicine at Western Health, Professor Gustavo Duque, said muscle health is “an important part of our immunity”. “Muscle is a major storage site for amino acids that are used by the body during a trauma or infection to help the body to repair. Muscles are also able to produce and release various factors that can activate immune cells,” he said.
“Improving muscle mass starts with feeding them correctly. A high-quality protein intake coupled with regular resistance training helps to maintain muscle strength and function.”
Adults aged 65 years and older require higher amounts of protein than younger adults, and may need even greater amounts if specific nutritional requirements or chronic disease are a factor.
Practising dietitian and medical affairs manager at Abbott Australia, Fransiska Ingrati, said that “maintaining and improving muscle health should be a number-one priority” for older adults. Abbott has been researching the impact of nutrition in adults for more than 45 years.
“Research has confirmed that with the right nutritional intervention and dietary guidance, older adults – even those at risk of malnutrition – can improve their nutritional status, mobility and strength, helping them lead fuller lives well into their golden years,” she said.
“Following a balanced diet full of vegetables, fruits, wholegrains, proteins, healthy fats, and key vitamins and minerals – like calcium and vitamin D – promotes good muscle health. Foods such as chicken, salmon, eggs, nuts, or beans are great sources of high-quality protein.”
IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.