Longevity and Muscle Mass, Strength and Function

CalerieHealth™ Nutritionalist

During the aging process it is known that there is a reduction in muscle mass and for that reason it may cause many of the functional problems in the elderly. Eating a diet rich in nutrients from fruits and vegetables is important to prevent oxidative stress in muscle tissue. A nutrient dense diet along with exercise, protein and possibly a supplement called conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) are important. These things may help muscle strength and function and help to turn back the clock on aging.

Exercise to strengthen muscles

A way to effectively help to reduce muscle mass loss is by increasing physical activity. Exercise contributes to metabolic and cardiovascular benefits, which would include endurance exercise, as well as resistance training, 3 times per week (Phu S et al, 2015). Of course this would be within the limits of a physician’s approval if there are any medical problems. It is aerobic exercise which has a significant effect on sarcopenia through improvement in muscle strength, function and mass (Phu S et al, 2015).

Sarcopenia is a condition where there is loss of skeletal muscle mass, strength and function.

Physical exercise alone or when taking a protein supplement has been shown to be of value to help prevent disability and frailty in older individuals.

Protein powder provides support to muscles

Protein powder with or without resistance training has been studied and demonstrated to help prevent sarcopenia (Liao Y et al, 2019). Soy protein, whey protein, collagen and casein are proteins that have been studied and shown to stimulate muscle protein synthesis.


Sarcopenia has been shown to be associated with reduced gastrointestinal microbiota (good bacteria). Probiotics are available to support the good bacteria in the gut.

Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA)

A dietary supplement that has been positioned for weight management is CLA, which is a fatty acid that is not considered essential, therefore it doesn’t need to be consumed from the diet. There is some research that shows it has a positive effect on skeletal muscle in advanced age.

CLA is found in animal products such as beef, milk and other types of meat. Also, it is found in sunflower and safflower oil. A healthier type of beef, which is grass-fed may contain higher amounts of CLA.

In animals, CLA is changed from omega 6 to CLA and stored in the animal’s muscles. Research has pointed out that specific types of intestinal bacteria like bifidobacterial have the ability to convert linoleic acid (LA) to CLA (Gorissen L et al, 2010).

Preliminary animal research shows that CLA may counteract mitochondrial dysfunction and improve mitochondrial ATP production, improve antioxidant capacity. This would result in improved muscle mass and strength (Rahman MM et al, 2009). The study showed that the CLA group showed an increase in the production of muscle antioxidant enzymes, catalase and glutathione peroxidase.This group also showed a significant reduction in inflammatory markers such as LPS-treated splenocyte IL-6 and TNF-alpha. There is potential for CLA to benefit muscles, but more research in humans is needed.

If you have a health condition and/or take prescription medication, it is best to check with your health care practitioner prior to taking a CLA supplement.

In summary, it is known that muscle loss occurs with aging, but there are ways to help push back the clock on aging. A nutrient dense diet, exercise, protein powder and possibly CLA may help to increase muscle strength, function and mass.

This article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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