Our muscles are so much more important than most people realize!  How much MUSCLE you have is more important than your weight or how much fat you have.  Muscles equal health and longevity!  It’s not just that they hold us upright and allow us to walk run, jump and hug; muscles also serve as your immune system’s reserves.

You may know that muscles are what prevent falls and fractures, especially as we age.  But did you know muscles also function as storage banks for proteins, the raw ingredients for infection-fighting antibodies and other parts of our defense systems?

Strong muscles protect us from joint pain, fight fatigue, and allow us to age gracefully, as long as we take good care of them.  Muscles also burn loads more calories than any other tissue, burning fat and keeping our weight stable.

As we age, we begin to lose muscle mass and strength.  This process is known as sarcopenia.  Some sources say this process begins as early as age 30, likely because of our sedentary lifestyles.  Now, we will all naturally face this type of muscle loss if we live to ninety-plus, but it most definitely doesn’t have to “naturally” start at 30, nor is it irreversible.  Maintaining a muscle mass of 32-36% throughout life is a huge part of aging gracefully and actively.  You cannot predict muscle mass from fat mass, muscle mass needs to be measured on its own.  Only Bioimpedance machines can accurately measure your true muscle mass.

How do we fight back you ask?  Simple!  Do these 3 things daily:

1. Eat and absorb enough protein in the morning.   Starting off your day with a plant protein-rich breakfast can help stop muscle loss in its tracks and help you feel great! Each morning we wake up “protein neutral”– our bodies have expended yesterday’s supply of it during restorative sleep (the part where detoxification, healing, memory creation, etc. happens).

Simply put, if we don’t feed our body the protein it needs, especially in the morning, it will take protein from our existing muscles, resulting in muscle loss over time.

Plant protein as a shake or smoothie makes it easy to absorb 15 to 20 grams of protein made up of all the essential amino acids we need to prevent muscle breakdown.  Examples of tasty plant powders that are very well absorbed and are high in quality protein include minimally-processed rice, pea, non-GMO soy, hemp, sprouted ancient grains, sacha inchi, sprouted pumpkin and other seeds, chia seeds and more.

With the right breakfast we have the power to improve both the day ahead of us and the health and function of our bodies as we age.

2. Avoid medications that prevent you from breaking down your protein.  All reflux medications, commonly known as acid blockers, decrease the amount of protein you break down and absorb.  Whether over-the-counter or prescription, these over-prescribed and over-used meds are responsible for both muscle and bone loss and should be used rarely or only while a search for the underlying cause of reflux is found and addressed.  It takes up to 6 weeks to taper off and recover from these meds, which confuses some who may mistake the withdrawal symptoms as the need for long-term medication, thus complicating the problem.

Reflux can often be relieved with apple cider vinegar, digestive enzymes or zinc carnosine.  The cause is often poor food choices, unknown or ignored food sensitivities, deficient digestive enzymes and, paradoxically, a lack of stomach acid.

3. Exercise to build muscle.  Exercising regularly has a multitude of long-lasting health benefits and is the only way we build muscle. Having a daily exercise routine, no matter how intense, will tremendously increase your state of happiness and overall health — and who doesn’t need a little more of both?  Volumes have been written on the benefits of exercise but the bottom line for today is, if you want to develop and maintain muscle mass, you MUST establish a routine of appropriate-level, weight-bearing exercises.  Get creative and find something you enjoy (or check out the “Move” section of our Tools Page for some great ideas)!  The best exercise program is one you can stick to.  🙂

To your health and vitality!

Tamara Sachs, MD
Feel free to add or substitute in any of your favorite organic fruits & veggies, non-dairy milks, seeds, sprouts, nut-butters, and powders.

*We recommend using all organic ingredients.  For tips on the most important fruits and veggies to buy organic, check out EWG’s helpful “Dirty Dozen & Clean Fifteen” guide.

Kale*- about 1 cup
Spinach*- about 1 cup
Carrot*- 1
Apple*- ½
Frozen Strawberries*- about 5
Hemp Milk*- about 1 cup
Ice – about 1 cup
Chia seeds – about 1 tablespoon
Epic Protein: Vanilla Lucuma (or any other protein powder) – 1 serving
(19g of protein)

Mango*- about 1/2
Banana*(optional) -1/2
Baby spinach – 1 cup+
Coconut milk*- about 1/2 cup
Cashews*- about ¼ cup
Ice – about 1 cup
Juice Plus+® Complete French Vanilla (or any other protein powder) – 1 serving
(13g of protein)
Carrot*- 1-2
Frozen blackberries*- about 5
Frozen strawberries* – about 4
Frozen raspberries*- about 6
Flax seeds*- about 1 tablespoon
Ice – about ½ cup
Almond milk*- about 1 cup
Epic Protein: Vanilla Lucuma (or any other protein powder) – 1 serving
(19g of protein)

Banana*- 1-2
Spinach – about 1 cup
Almond butter*- 1-2 tablespoons
Coconut milk – about 2 cups
Ice – about 1 cup
Juice Plus+® Complete Dutch Chocolate (or any other protein powder) – 1 serving (10g of protein)