Build Efficient Metabolic Machinery
Chronic pain and chronic illness drain your body of its strength. Not only do you feel weaker, you actually lose muscle bulk. And the longer the problem goes on, the more muscle mass you lose.
But wait, it gets worse…
Muscles are your body’s largest storehouse of protein. But protein also forms the working nuts and bolts of your internal organs – your liver and kidneys, for instance. Your intestinal lining. And your immune system.
If you’re losing muscle, you’re losing the back-up protein reservoir needed to replenish these organs. That means a gradual deterioration in your ability to efficiently digest and absorb food, fight infection, filter your blood, and do everything else your body is designed to do.
It’s practically the definition of chronic illness.
How do you stop the downward slide? First, determine if muscle loss is a significant issue for you.
You can do this with a medical test of the amount of nitrogen in your urine. (Nitrogen in your urine comes from muscle breakdown.)
But there are simple ways you can assess your muscle status for yourself.
Are you having trouble opening a jar? Carrying bags of groceries?
It’s easy to obtain a household scale that also estimates your percentage of body fat.
(These scales test how easily a mild electric current runs through your body. Fat is an electric insulator, so the current will flow more quickly if you’re lean.)
You won’t be measuring your muscle status directly. But the higher your body fat, the lower your muscle mass. And vice versa.
A fit woman will have a body fat percentage of 24% or less. And, for a woman, 25-31% is considered “acceptable.” If your body fat percentage is above 31%, the metabolism of your body is out of whack.
For men, the standards are a little tighter. A fit man will have a body fat percentage under 17%, and “acceptable” would be 18-25%.
Don’t go off on a tangent with all this discussion of body fat. Don’t start thinking, “Oh my gosh – it’s the same old story – I’ve got to lose weight.”
I don’t care about your weight. You don’t have to lose weight. Really. I mean it.
But if your numbers are out of whack you do have to restore muscle.
There are four basic strategies you’ll follow:
- Maintain an improved relationship to diet and your gut bacteria.
- Add supplemental protein to your diet as needed.
- Engage in a consistent, simple, safe weight-training program.
- Choose selected muscle-enhancing nutritional supplements to boost your results further.
It can be challenging to reverse a long-term downward health trend. But you can do it with a consistent, systematic approach. Don’t give up. Cherish your small victories (and build on them.) Get the support you need.