A little over a year ago, a man named Robert Wheeler broke a world record when he became the oldest person to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. He was 85.
It was an astonishing feat for a man his age and, as an anti-aging doctor, I took a personal interest in his accomplishment.
Last week, I was thinking about Bob Wheeler again when I returned to Africa to visit the ongoing work of our KIMBRA Foundation charity and continue my research with local doctors and herbalists.
I’ve climbed the 19,340 feet to the summit of Kilimanjaro, too. It was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream to get to the highest walkable point on Earth. The difference is that I was 54 at the time.
But I was thinking that in another 30 years, I might like to do it again when I’m 89 — as well as a lot of other activities I enjoy now. With the advances in anti-aging medicine, I don’t see why not — although I’m pretty sure most doctors would advise against it.
You see, one of the biggest problems is muscle loss. Research reveals that typically, after the age of 40, you lose 8% or more of your muscle mass EVERY YEAR. And this process really accelerates after age 70.1
That makes Bob Wheeler’s Kilimanjaro climb even more amazing. But the truth is there are plenty of ways to prevent this age-related muscle loss and to keep yourself vibrant — no matter what your age.
In a minute, I’m going to tell you about a natural substance that can not only prevent muscle loss, but can help strengthen any new muscle gained.
But first, let’s take a look at why muscle loss is so serious.
Today, one in three adults over the age of 50 suffers from a progressive loss of muscle mass and strength. It’s called sarcopenia and it can have a devastating impact on your ability to enjoy life — and meet everyday challenges. 2
The symptoms of sarcopenia include musculoskeletal weakness and stamina loss. And because when you’re fatigued you’re less active, this further reduces your muscle mass.
Prolonged periods of muscle loss can even lead to chronic inflammation and loss of bone density.
In my anti-aging practice, I’ve seen firsthand how the right nutrition can overcome most instances of muscle loss.
I often recommend two tiny and often-overlooked natural molecules — ursolic acid and tomatidine— to my patients as a strategy to counter muscle loss as they get older.
You see, age-related muscle loss is caused by the protein ATF4, which alters gene expression in skeletal muscle as you age and reduces the level of the protein synthesis in your muscles. This causes your tissue break down. As a result, you have less strength and less muscle mass.
But taking ursolic acid and tomatidine as a preventative measure has had amazing results in my clinic — and the latest scientific research backs me up.3
Research from the University of Iowa, published in a recent issue of Journal of Biological Chemistry, reveals that ursolic acid can block ATF4 activity in your body’s skeletal muscle.
The researchers found that ursolic acid and tomatidine dramatically reduce age-related muscle weakness and atrophy in mice. Elderly mice with age-related muscle weakness and atrophy were fed diets lacking or containing tiny amounts of these two key substances for two months.
And they found that both compounds increased muscle mass by 10%, and increased muscle strength by 30%.
You can find tomatidine in green tomatoes. And you can find ursolic acid naturally in:
- Apple peel
- Holy Basil
You can also find ursolic acid capsules online and in health food stores. I recommend finding one that only contains both ursolic acid and tomatidine, and work your way up to a limit of 300 mg per day.
But there’s more to preventing muscle loss than tomatidine and ursolic acid. I also recommend a high-protein and vitamin D diet. The best natural sources of protein and vitamin D include:
- Grass-fed beef;
- Organic dairy products;
- Free-range organic chicken or turkey;
- Wild-caught fish.
You should get up to 8,000 IUs of vitamin D3 daily. A serving of cooked wild salmon and mackerel provide roughly 350 IU vitamin D3 each. Sardines and tuna in oil provide about 225 IUs of vitamin D3 each. And one tablespoon of cod liver oil contains nearly 1,400 IUs.
You should also try to get out into the sun for at least 20 minutes every day — which is the best source of vitamin D.
I also recommend a supplement of vitamin D3 called cholecalciferol. It’s the same vitamin D3 that your body produces. Just be sure to avoid the synthetic form of vitamin D2 in most multivitamins. It’s less potent and less absorbable.
Exercise should also be a key part of any anti-aging strategy and it’s critical to preventing age-related muscle loss. That’s one of the benefits of my PACE anti-aging exercise program.
The activation of your legs — especially the quadriceps and hamstrings — sparks enhanced muscular growth in your whole body by triggering the release of muscle-supporting hormones.4
I’ve been using PACE to tap into the energy of my youth for years. And today you can get started with a simple four-step exercise, known as alternating lunges.
- With your hands at your hips, take a step forward with your right leg until your front knee is bent 90 degrees and your back knee almost touches the ground.
- Push off from your leading foot and return to starting position.
- Repeat with your left leg. Continue until you feel winded.
- Rest, recover and do two more sets.
Start at a speed and level of intensity you’re comfortable with. And from there, be sure to progressively increase the intensity over time. This progression is what signals your cells to improve your muscular endurance.
1. Newman AB1, Haggerty CL, Goodpaster B, Harris T, Kritchevsky S, Nevitt M, Miles TP, Visser M. “Strength and muscle quality in a well-functioning cohort of older adults: the Health, Aging and Body Composition Study.” Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. March 2003.
2. “Apple Compound Helps Maintain Muscle Mass and Strength in Aging Humans.” Nutrition Review Oct. 2015.
3. Steven D. Kunkel, Christopher J. Elmore, et al. “Ursolic Acid Increases Skeletal Muscle and Brown Fat and Decreases Diet-Induced Obesity, Glucose Intolerance and Fatty Liver Disease.” PLoS One. 2012 Jun 20.
4. Mckeough, ZJ, Alison, JA, Bye, PT, et al. Exercise capacity and quadriceps muscle metabolism following training in subjects with COPD. Respiratory Medicine. 2006:1817–1825. doi:10.1016/j.rmed.2006.01.017.