The secret of longevity: the recipe for living longer and better

Published in February 22nd, 2020

Increased life expectancy is a reality. Expert shows how to reach old age with quality

Around 30% of elderly people over the age of 60 suffer from sarcopenia, which is the loss of muscle mass, strength and performance. The good news is that its impact can be reduced or delayed with simple care throughout life.

"Around the age of 30, we start to lose muscle mass, which is a natural process, but the speed of this loss and the impact it has on the patient's quality of life are a direct consequence of the amount of lean mass people have in their bodies: the less lean mass we have, the more at risk we are," says Dr. Roberto Miranda, a cardiologist and geriatrician.

According to data from the IBGE (2018), life expectancy at birth for Brazilians increases year on year and has already reached 72 years for men and 79 years for women, and it is increasingly common for people to celebrate being over 100 years old. According to the IBGE, a woman aged 60, for example, will live an average of 22.9 years longer, thus exceeding the number estimated at birth.

Much is said about how the country is or isn't prepared to take care of these people and little about how the population is preparing to live longer and better. 

Dr. Roberto Miranda explains that an individual with little lean mass becomes "weak" and the condition can be aggravated by an acute illness. For example: an elderly person with a good amount of lean mass tends to recover better from pneumonia, as the body uses this resource to aid recovery. Once the condition has stabilized, they still have enough mass to recover and return to their routine activities. The same is not true for elderly people with little lean mass. They are more likely to die or become dependent, as their body may not have the strength to recover completely from a specific illness.

"Another problem is the loss of bone mass and tissue (osteoporosis), which is also common and increases the risk of fractures, which are extremely complicated to deal with and recover from," says the geriatrician.

According to the Ministry of Health, approximately 10 million Brazilians have osteoporosis, which causes 1 million fractures a year. These serious problems can be minimized (or postponed) with simple changes in everyday life: an active lifestyle, which means at least 5,000 steps a day, or half an hour's walk; a balanced diet, which doesn't restrict food, but reduces the intake of those that don't contribute to health; emotional balance, so that the body doesn't suffer the consequences of minor problems; avoiding excess alcohol and not smoking.

Another important tool is supplementation, which provides the body with essential nutrients when they are not supplied through the standard nutritional diet. A classic example is protein intake, which most of the time does not meet the daily recommendation. An excellent source of protein is collagen peptides, which are free from allergens such as milk protein, soy and gluten. An adequate and balanced combination of proteins combined with vitamins, minerals and branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) is essential for muscle synthesis and helps prevent sarcopenia.

For bone health and to prevent osteoporosis, an adequate intake of calcium, vitamin D, K and magnesium is necessary. Remember that bones are not made up of calcium alone and that the supply of protein to the bones, in addition to vitamin D and magnesium, is essential for the formation of a quality bone compound, not forgetting the role of vitamin K2 as a carrier of calcium to the bones, preventing it from accumulating in the arteries and kidneys. It's worth mentioning that there are several sources of calcium, and that Calcium Citrate Malate, among the calcium compounds, is the best absorbed by our bodies, being almost 2 times more absorbed than calcium carbonate.

A balanced diet, whether via a standard or supplemented nutritional diet, and regular physical activity are the key to keeping the body in a position to offer the best response to the usual needs, promoting healthier and longer aging.

"None of this is easy, but the results are obvious and proven by numerous studies. So my tip to everyone is: stop procrastinating. Start making a difference today, whatever your age," adds Dr. Roberto Miranda.

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