There is a strong connection between muscle mass and good health, says Robert Wolfe, director of Translational Research in Aging and Longevity at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. "As we age, we tend to lose muscle, especially if we are not using it," says Wolfe. "These losses eventually affect quality of life, our balance, strength and ability to recover from an illness or accident."
In fact, muscles do everything from help you move and digest your food, to -- in the case of your heart muscle -- pump nutrients throughout your body. "Our heart, brain, skin and other organs are in a constant state of remodeling with tissue being built and broken down," says Nancy Rodriguez, a registered dietitian and director of sports nutrition programs at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. "Muscles offer a significant supply of amino acids to ensure these vital parts stay strong."
Active muscles not only help cut your risk of developing diabetes or osteoporosis, but the more muscle mass you have, the more calories your body can burn.
To keep your muscles strong and healthy you need the right kind of diet.
Click here to see which five foods can help you maximize your muscle mass.