The underappreciated role of muscle in health and disease (AJCN.org)

On January 9, 2013 by Physical Culturist

(American Society for Clinical Nutrition) The importance of maintaining muscle mass and physical and metabolic functions in the elderly is well-recognized. Less appreciated are the diverse roles of muscle throughout life and the importance of muscle in preventing some of the most common and increasingly prevalent clinical conditions, such as obesity and diabetes. It is therefore imperative that factors directly related to muscle be included in future studies designed to demonstrate optimal lifestyle behaviours throughout the life span, including physical activity and diet.

Abstract

Muscle plays a central role in whole-body protein metabolism by serving as the principal reservoir for amino acids to maintain protein synthesis in vital tissues and organs in the absence of amino acid absorption from the gut and by providing hepatic gluconeogenic precursors. Furthermore, altered muscle metabolism plays a key role in the genesis, and therefore the prevention, of many common pathologic conditions and chronic diseases. Nonetheless, the maintenance of adequate muscle mass, strength, and metabolic function has rarely, if ever, been targeted as a relevant endpoint of recommendations for dietary intake. It is therefore imperative that factors directly related to muscle mass, strength, and metabolic function be included in future studies designed to demonstrate optimal lifestyle behaviors throughout the life span, including physical activity and diet.

INTRODUCTION

The importance of muscle mass, strength, and metabolic function in the performance of exercise, as well as the activities of daily living (ADL), has never been questioned. Perhaps less well recognized, muscle plays a central role in whole-body protein metabolism, which is particularly important in the response to stress. Furthermore, abundant evidence points to a key role of altered muscle metabolism in the genesis, and therefore prevention, of many common pathologic conditions and chronic diseases. This review discusses the various roles of muscle metabolism in health and disease, including consideration of possible solutions to muscle loss. Particular emphasis will be given to the notion that increasing protein or amino acid intakes may optimize muscle strength and metabolism and thereby improve health.

Read the full study here: American Society for Clinical Nutrition

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