Medical nutrition

Muscle and mobility

Proven whey proteins support an active later life 

Around the world, the number of people over 65 is expected to double over the next 20 to 25 years. That makes the challenge to maintain muscle mass and function more relevant than ever. Muscle maintenance is not only key to physical function but also to general metabolic health.

Low muscle mass and function are associated with poor quality of life and, during illness, have an influence on prognosis, treatment tolerance and recovery. Sarcopenia is the term that refers to the loss of muscle mass (muscle atrophy) during the normal aging process. Elderly with sarcopenia often experience a reduction in physical function that impacts their mobility and quality of life.   

The role of proteins in sarcopenia prevention

Proteins contribute to the growth and maintenance of muscle mass. The reason why we talk about the high nutritional quality of whey protein is that it contains high amounts of all essential amino acids. This includes branched chain amino acids (BCAA), where particularly leucine (LEU) is known to be important for muscle regulation. Ongoing research explores the optimal dose, source and timing of protein intake to improve or maintain the size and strength of muscles in elderly consumers.

At Arla Foods Ingredients, we are involved in a large-scale clinical trial to investigate more than 200 elderly participants in a one-year intervention (+6 month follow-up). The study examines the influence on muscle mass when study participants receive a supplement containing one of our mild whey protein hydrolysates compared with collagen protein or carbohydrate in combination with heavy or light-resistance exercise[1]. Further details about the study are available here (Counteracting age-related loss of skeletal muscle mass – CALM, www.calm.ku.dk).

Research aimed at improved patient well-being

Our ambition is to drive research in whey protein supplementation to improve muscle mass and function in patients with advanced chronic diseases, including metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. The aim is to improve patient well-being with our clinically documented solutions. In collaboration with universities and research partners, we explore and document the health benefits of our whey protein ingredients for the benefit of consumers.


 

References:

1 Bechschøft et al 2017.