What causes muscle loss?
Experts think that several factors contribute to muscle loss (also known as sarcopenia). Physical inactivity is one of them but it’s not the whole story since active people also lose muscle. Other reasons might include age-related hormonal changes that reduce muscle cell growth, reduced nerve activity, inflammation, insufficient protein or calorie consumption, and a decline in our body’s ability to get energy from protein.
Researchers are working to better understand sarcopenia. For example, one recent study looked at whether eating more protein can help prevent muscle loss in older adults (conclusion: Probably yes, but further research is needed). Another study has explored the connection between muscle health and declining nerve activity (conclusion: Regular exercise might help to grow new nerves and preserve muscle mass and strength).
The search for answers continues. In the meantime, we can slow muscle loss by living a healthy lifestyle, eating well and exercising regularly.