Andreas was a world-class bodybuilder who, by all appearances, was in the best shape of his life. His body was teeming with muscles and there was hardly an ounce of fat on him — he made the Incredible Hulk look like a beanpole.
And at 31 years of age, he did something that no 31-year-old should ever do — he died suddenly.
Years of bodybuilding supplements meant to enhance his performance and appearance had laid waste to his body. There was bleeding in his stomach. His heart was enlarged to almost twice a normal size, and his electrolytes were completely out of whack.
In the world of bodybuilding, this story is hardly unique — for years that sport has been plagued by health problems and premature deaths as the athletes consume all manner of dangerous chemical cocktails in the name of competition.
And if you think this doesn’t have anything to do with you and your loved ones, here’s something you need to know: Some of the same dangerous supplements that were once sold only to bodybuilders are now being marketed to children, seniors, and everyone in between.
Muscle development (and, in the case of many seniors, muscle preservation) has become a multi-billion dollar industry. It’s important to have the facts you need to stay safe and avoid products that could cause you serious injury — or even death.
Believe me, I fully understand the desire to do whatever is necessary to preserve muscle and beat back the signs of aging. Each decade after we turn 25, we lose another 3% to 5% of our muscle mass. We start getting that little jiggle under our arms or start feeling a little less steady on our feet, and we resolve to do something about it.
But some bodybuilding supplements are downright dangerous, particularly for seniors. Many of today’s leading muscle-building supplements are loaded with far too much creatine to be well tolerated by seniors. Now don’t get me wrong, creatine in the RIGHT amounts could be exactly the muscle-strengthening nutrition your body is craving. But downing massive amounts like you will find in some bodybuilding formulas has been linked to health problems.
Too much creatine can stress your kidneys and leave you dehydrated, and may cause spikes in your insulin levels. If you’re battling to control your blood sugar, prolonged ingestion of high dosages of creatine will just make your job harder.
What’s worse, many bodybuilding supplements claim they can give you a large boost of natural testosterone. Now, you know Dr. Wright is a fan of maintaining normal levels of testosterone, and in some cases this may require supplementation with bio-identical hormones.
Testosterone helps keep your bones, muscles, and heart strong — but many bodybuilding supplements have taken this wonderful natural hormone and turned it into a foe. When you get too much testosterone your body will convert much of it to estrogen. And as Dr. Wright has explained before, this increases your risks of prostate enlargement and prostate cancer.
Now I’m not trying to frighten you — but I believe that forewarned is forearmed. It’s absolutely essential that you continue to care for and strengthen your muscles as you age, to keep yourself vigorous and to ward off life-altering fractures, tears, and falls.
But the best way to keep your muscles safe as you age is to … drumroll, please … use them! Moderate, daily exercise — find something you enjoy and will stick with — can keep muscles performing, improve your balance and heart health, and even ward off depression!
In the end, I promise you’ll find that a couple laps around the block with a friend will do far more for your health than some “muscle exploding” bodybuilder’s product with a screaming label at your local Big Box store.
If you wish to supplement, look for products with proven and safe ingredients, such as potassium, and clinically proven levels of creatine appropriate for your age.
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