THE CONNECTION BETWEEN MUSCLE MASS AND THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
Time to read 6 min
Time to read 6 min
Do you know what muscles are good for? Lifting weights.
Do you know what else they’re good for? Strengthening your immune system.
Muscles are often thought of as the physical powerhouses of our bodies. They help us move, lift weights, and carry out basic daily activities. But we’re not giving our muscles enough credit. Our muscles do more than just lift weights and build a sick physique; they may also play a critical role in the health of our immune system. A healthy immune system depends on a balance of immune cells, and it turns out that muscle tissue plays a vital role in supporting that balance.
For your immune system to fight against chronic diseases, your immune system must be active over long periods of time. As you can imagine, that is going to take a physical toll on your immune defence system.
Research on mice at the German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ) has found evidence that skeletal muscles may help to keep the immune system functional in chronic illnesses. Serious illness, disease or cancer often leads to a decrease in muscle mass, which is followed by a weakened immune system. Through their research, they determined that mice with more muscle mass were able to cope with chronic viral infections better than those with weaker muscles (DKFZ. 2020).
So, does that connection expand to humans?
In age-related decline, the deterioration of skeletal muscle and the immune system presents itself as sarcopenia and immune senescence. Sarcopenia refers to the gradual loss of muscle mass, strength and function and is common in the elderly population. Immune senescence, or immunosenescence, refers to gradual and age-related immune dysfunction.
Skeletal muscle has emerged through research as a strong regulator of immune system performance, and skeletal muscle may be the central integrator between sarcopenia and immune senescence in age-related circumstances. In fact, therapeutic approaches towards skeletal muscle may be able to restore both muscle and immune function, although further research is required (Nelke, C. 2019).
The skeletal muscles account for roughly 40% of your total body weight and contain about 50% of all protein in your body. In relationship to your immune health, muscles produce and release compounds that play a vital role in the proliferation, activation and distribution of certain immune cells. Research has also indicated that increased markers of inflammation are associated with lower muscle mass, and importantly, your muscles store the majority of amino acids used by your body during trauma or infection. If your muscle mass is low and your protein intake is weak, your response to injury or infection may be greatly hindered (Abbott. 2021).
The first step, as you can probably guess, is to exercise, but we’re not talking about cardio. You need to train weights.
As you age beyond thirty, your muscle mass will naturally start to decline at a slow rate and will continue to decline at increased rates as you age beyond forty. You can combat this by staying active and continuing to train with weights while exercising all your major muscle groups. This will help protect you from the symptoms of sarcopenia and help your skeletal muscles stay stronger against illness, inflammation and infection (MacPherson, R. 2022).
While it is recommended that adults consume between 10% and 35% of their daily calories from protein, it is estimated that approximately one billion people worldwide have inadequate protein intake (Leal, D. 2022).
We know you don’t just drink those post-workout protein shakes because they taste nice. Getting enough protein into your daily diet is essential for building and maintaining tissue growth and repair.
Protein, however, is not just essential for building strong muscles; it also helps maintain a healthy immune system. Your immune system relies on an array of proteins, such as antibodies, which help fight disease and illness. Without an adequate amount of protein in your diet, your body may not produce enough of these proteins, leaving your immune system vulnerable to attack (The Doctor’s Kitchen).
It’s not always easy to get enough protein into your daily diet, which is where protein powders are real game-changers.
If you want to build up mass to fortify your muscle health and protect your immunity, ON Serious Mass can deliver 1,250 calories and 50g of blended protein. This formula is fortified with added creatine, vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates to support your nutritional needs.
EHP Labs OxyWhey delivers 100% whey protein with added probiotics, digestive enzymes and a range of vitamins and minerals to maximise muscle growth and support a healthy immune system.
As you already know from those meal-prepped chicken & rice lunches, what your fuel your body with matters. The nutrients you pack into your diet can affect your microbiome, gut barrier function, inflammatory process and white blood cell function, which all connect to your immune function. Diets high in saturated fats, ultra-processed foods, sugar, salt and high calories can damage your health and performance, leading to inflammation and immune malfunction (Kubala, J. 2021).
If you’re trying to support muscle mass and immune health, a diet rich in whole foods like vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes and seafood can promote healthy immune function while delivering essential nutrients to support your immunity and muscle health (Kubala, J. 2021).
Creatine is an important supplement often associated with bodybuilding or athletes looking to gain muscle mass. However, its benefits extend beyond just muscle health. Studies have shown that creatine can actually support immune health by increasing the production of immune cells and protecting against oxidative stress. Creatine can improve energy levels, which can help boost overall physical activity and reduce fatigue. Additional research suggests that creatine can promote brain health and bone density and supports immune function by fighting against cancer cells (Marks, T. 2021).
If you’re looking for the best creatine supplement, MuscleTech Cell Tech Creactor can deliver. This formula can amplify your muscle strength and recovery while also enhancing immune health with this unflavoured creatine formula that contains muscle-fuelling amino acids. Creactor can optimise how you train, supporting ATP production, endurance, strength, recovery and muscle volumisation.
Now, let’s talk supplements.
If you’re looking to optimise your immune system while supporting your overall performance, you can’t go wrong with a good multivitamin.
Rule 1’s Train Daily Mens and Train Daily Women’s multivitamins can fortify your immune system with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, electrolytes and more to support your immunity, muscle recovery, fatigue reduction and muscle maintenance.
We know you’re probably doing plenty to fuel your muscle growth, recovery and strength, so let’s focus specifically on your health & immunity. You can do that with a trusty greens powder.
PranaON Super Greens is a detoxifying inner-health formula that delivers energising greens and immune-cleansing nutrients. This vegan-friendly dose contains a superfood blend, digestive enzymes and organic ingredients and provides seven sources of greens to help cleanse, alkalise and detoxify your body.
There is growing research that suggests there is a connection between muscle mass and the immune system. Maintaining skeletal muscle through strength training is essential for a healthy immune system, especially in age-related circumstances, and can improve immune function and overall health.
If you need more advice on finding the best supplements to support your muscle mass and immune health, we have the solutions. Just head in-store or reach out online, and our friendly team at ASN can help you find what you’re looking for.
DKFZ. 2020, ‘Muscles support a strong immune system’, Science Daily, accessed 23 June 2023, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/06/200615092747.htm
Nelke, C. 2019, ‘Skeletal muscle as potential central link between sarcopenia and immune senescence’, eBioMedicine, accessed 23 June 2023, https://www.thelancet.com/article/S2352-3964(19)30704-2/fulltext
Abbott. 2021, ‘Research suggests muscle health may impact the immune system’, Abbott, accessed 23 June 2023, https://www.nutritionnews.abbott/healthy-living/aging-well/minding-our-muscles-for-immune-health/#:~:text=The%20Connection%20Between%20Muscles%20and%20the%20Immune%20System&text=However%2C%20there%20is%20evidence%20suggesting
Leal, D. 2022, ‘The Effects of Protein Deficiency’, Very Well Fit, accessed 26 June 2023, https://www.verywellfit.com/what-are-the-effects-of-protein-deficiency-4160404
The Doctor’s Kitchen, ‘Protein will help strengthen your immunity’, The Doctor’s Kitchen, accessed 23 June 2023, https://thedoctorskitchen.com.au/blogs/news/protein-will-help-strengthen-your-immunity
MacPherson, R. 2022, ‘5 Ways to Maintain Muscle Mass’, Very Well Fit, accessed 23 June 2023, https://www.verywellfit.com/ways-to-lose-muscle-and-how-to-prevent-it-3498618
Marks, T. 2021, ‘Taking Creatine for Better Immune Function?’ Ageist, accessed 23 June 2023, https://www.ageist.com/wellness/health/taking-creatine-for-better-immune-function/#:~:text=%5B3%5D%20Creatine%20is%20often%20used,immune%20function%20against%20cancer%20cells.
Kubala, J. 2021, ‘How and why does diet influence immune function’, Medical News Today, accessed 26 June 2023, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/how-and-why-does-diet-influence-immune-function