Building Muscle

June 10, 2011 in Fitness, Health, Health Claims, Nutritionism by Mary Ireland

If you read this blog regularly, you know that Dr. Grandma’s is about living a healthy life in a natural way. By “natural way” I don’t mean eating only raw foods, or the way various human species did more than 10,000 years ago, or even eating only organically grown products. The lifestyle that Dr. Grandma's promotes is what I would call a reasonable approach to living. It is the lifestyle that Dr. Ancel Keys talked about in his book How to Eat Well and Stay Well the Mediterranean Way. It was the way that people lived in the 1950’s (and before) in Greece and surrounding areas, especially the island of Crete. It is a way living that real people can adhere to.

Bucking this natural lifestyle is the modern trend of taking supplements. The practice is based on the idea that good things, like fruits and vegetables and all of the benefits they provide can be reduced to a few ingredients and put in a pill. This is especially disconcerting to anyone who has the educational background and knowledge about nutrition as Dr. Grandma does. I would go so far as to say that nutritionism is one of her biggest pet peeves. Not only does nutritionism not work, it can be dangerous. Perhaps one of the biggest dangers is that people don’t eat what they should be eating but instead rely on a poor substitute. In addition, research has shown health risks associated with various supplements. Dr. Grandma has written a number of blogs on nutritionism. I agree with her wholeheartedly.

I was a little peeved myself when I found an article on a new muscle drink that is touted at building muscle and strength. The drink is targeted at middle-aged and older adults who “are losing muscle naturally because of age.” Hmm… that isn’t exactly a true statement. Research confirms that people up to 100 years old can build muscle and strength with three weight training sessions a week over a 20-week period. The study found that people in their late 60s experienced decreased muscle and strength due to reduced blood flow. After a 20-week on the weight training regiment, the muscular responses of the 60-year olds become identical to the to group of 25-year olds.

It seems that this is another case of a company trying to “disease-ize” a natural process and then cure it with their product. Losing muscle as we age is “natural” only because it is typical for people to move less and perform less strenuous tasks as they get older. This is especially true as modern society has moved from an agrarian culture where hard physical labor was required, to a lifestyle in which a person really doesn’t have to perform physical tasks.

This is another case of nutritionism; it doesn’t take into account what the natural remedy does. Promoting the muscle drink as the solution doesn’t take into account the increases in range of motion and balance that exercise can provide. It doesn’t claim to improve the strength or flexibility of the tendons and ligaments that connect the muscles to the bone. It doesn’t increase bone mass as resistance exercise does. It doesn’t reduce anxiety, increase the capacity of the respiratory system or promote the creation of new brain cells. It doesn’t reduce stress or help you to sleep better. Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, by John J. Ratey, does an excellent job of identifying the benefits of exercise, both aerobic and resistance.

So why would someone settle for a second rate solution, when the real thing is so good? At Dr. Grandma’s we show you through our recipes and articles that “Good Health Can Be Yummy.” We espouse a lifestyle that is healthy and provides you with all possible benefits and no harmful side effects. Don’t short change yourself and your health by falling for any snake oil salesmen. There are a lot of them out there. Unfortunately, they can take more than your money; they can rob you of health and vitality. Stay with the natural way of living and aging gracefully.