We don’t need to age as fast as some people think. There are many studies now proving that actually, biological aging and muscular-skeletal problems are a result of the lack of physical activity rather than the other way round. In other words, you make the choice that you are too old for this activity or that activity and your body follows. You stop using those joints, bones and muscles and the body figures there is no use in maintaining them. If you then decide to get up from your computer or TV set and start moving again, it hurts. But the good news is that it comes back, if you persevere.
Lessons from space
Studies on astronauts are particularly inspiring in this regard. In weightlessness, you need neither bones nor muscles. You are floating around freely, effortlessly. No force or pressure is holding you down. Nothing is challenging your body to stay strong. Even though astronauts exercise two and half hours six days a week on special machines, when they land back on Earth, they need a full team of medical professionals to help them stand up. They went up to space fit and toned and they return weak and wasted.
It’s not only the muscles. Studies have shown that astronauts in space experience changes to the natural process of bone remodelling. Lacking the physical stimuli, the bones start excreting calcium, losing about 1.5 per cent of their mass in a month. After a ten-month stay in space, the astronauts’ bones are ten per cent less dense than at the beginning of the mission.
The same happens in bed-ridden people.
The positive thing, however, is the fact that this process is reversible. Although regaining bone mass takes longer than regaining muscle mass, the astronauts are back to normal after three to four years. All it takes is proper nutrition, vitamin D and targeted exercises.
And as much as astronauts can regain their robust bones, so could your grandma, if she starts moving again.
Below, is a video of Greta Portanelli – a 66-year-old American (yes, that’s not a typo, Greta really looks that fab at 66) champion in pole-dancing. The cool thing is that Greta only took up pole-dancing at the age of 59 after having been diagnosed with osteoporosis and recommended to take up some really intense exercise to fix the problem, which she did.
Collagen, vitamin C and high impact exercise
A study published in December 2016 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that high intensity exercise combined with gelatin (or collagen) and vitamin C supplementation can actually help rebuild ligaments, tendons and bones.
The researchers worked with eight men who were given a combined gelatin and vitamin C supplement before a round of intense high impact exercise. The researchers then took blood samples from the test subjects. They found that levels of amino acids and markers linked to collagen synthesis increased during the regimen.
“These data suggest that adding gelatin and vitamin C to an intermittent exercise program could play a beneficial role in injury prevention and tissue repair,” the researchers wrote.
The interesting bit here is the fact that the researchers talk about exercise that involves impact. I bet you have heard people saying that, for example, running on hard surfaces is not good for your knees. These results appear to suggest otherwise.
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Collagen synthesis decreases with age
It is a known fact that collagen synthesis decreases with age. This decrease occurs fairly early, in the mid to late twenties and the first place where it shows is your skin. There are natural tricks to encourage collagen production such as increased consumption of vitamin C and elimination of sugar.
Adding some collagen to your system from the outside could provide an additional boost and help you maintain not only glowing wrinkle-free skin and thick hair but also healthy joints.
Gelatine on bone broth
There are two ways how to get more collagen into your system. The more natural approach is making bone broth. In the past, bone broth used to be a staple food in European diet but in our lazy packaged food culture, we are only interested in lean cuts of meat and we overlook the benefits of other parts of animal bodies that could actually benefit us.
The lazier alternative to bone broth is to buy hydrolysed collagen or gelatine and add a tablespoon or two a day into your foods and drinks. Hydrolysed collagen is tasteless and dissolves easily.
The most common and cheapest form of collagen is made from bovine bones and skins. A half-kilo jar costs about 20 pounds and lasts about two months.
If you are not comfortable with consuming something that has come from cows’ bones and skin, you can try marine collagen, which is usually extracted from scales of fish. Marine collagen is reportedly more bioavailable and more efficient but tends to be more expensive.
While in your teens and twenties you can mistreat your body as much as you want and you will barely notice, your thirties are the time to start taking self-care seriously. You can in fact feel better, stronger, healthier and more energetic in your mid-thirties than in your twenties but it all depends on how you treat your body. The important thing to remember is that no amount of expensive supplements is going to fix any problem unless you first fix your diet, exercise regime and stress management.