Researching for another article the other day I came across an interesting article in the Journal of Cachexia, Sarcopenia and Muscle which suggested that individuals over 60, who have a good appetite are likely to have a healthier gut and improved muscle strength than those individuals with a poor appetite. A loss of appetite, or anorexia is a relatively common issue amongst the older generation, affecting up to 27% of those aged over 65. It can lead to sarcopenia, which is the loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength, as a result of ageing.
The research team studied members of TwinsUK, the UK’s largest research cohort of adult twins. A questionnaire was used to differentiate between those who had a good healthy appetite and those who had a poor appetite. The team then reviewed their muscle strength, based on previous strength assessments as part of their clinic visits. They found that those twins with a poor appetite had a noticeable reduction in muscle strength when compared to those with a healthy appetite. A poor appetite can result in a poor diet, lacking in key nutrients which can lead to weight loss and a reduction in muscle strength. A similar picture emerged regarding gut health. Those with a healthy appetite had far more variation in their gut microbes and therefore a healthier gut when compared to those with a poor appetite.
The research team believe that this is the first study of its kind and further investigation is required. However, it could help to develop strategies to limit muscle wastage in the older generation.