The Most Important Marker for Health

Last week I had the pleasure of presenting at the Ancestral Health Symposium (AHS) in Berkeley, California. This annual gathering of researchers (PhDs), doctors (MDs, NDs), and paleo enthusiasts is a terrific venue for sharing ideas and learning the latest and greatest about health, diet, and exercise.
One talk in particular stood out for me by sport and exercise medicine expert Jamie Scott from New Zealand (aka ThatPaleoGuy). He gave an insightful look into what the most important marker is for overall health and life expectancy. Most doctors would say that cardiovascular markers best predict your health. Some others might say blood sugar markers, or perhaps hormonal markers. Other doctors may not even think to ask the question, focused instead on seeking out and treating disease, rather than promoting health.

A multitude of studies have shown us that the answer is….lean muscle mass!
This is a remarkable finding and really reshapes the conversation around health and even weight loss. As a percentage of your total weight, the person with the most lean muscle will have the better health profile, regardless if they look somewhat overweight. Increased lean muscle is also associated with longer life span.
This is an area of health that I have always emphasized with clients and it’s refreshing to see the science is backing up an extremely important, and too often overlooked, biological marker for health. When was the last time your doctor tested your body composition and levels of lean muscle mass?
In the weight loss world, the conversation has always been about fat loss. There is a new mantra gaining momentum… “Strong is the new skinny!” This changes the emphasis away from losing weight and puts the onus on you to gain muscle. Adding lean muscle will improve your blood sugar levels, cholesterol, digestion, immunity, hormone balance, and almost every aspect of your health. Also, as a nice side-effect… you’ll likely lose weight!
By shifting the focus to adding more muscle (remember, this doesn’t mean you will get bulky!) you achieve better health and a better body all at the same time, without the stigma or pressure to adhere to a certain body image.
While this is an easier sell to men, there is still not enough emphasis put on this most important health marker when patients see their doctor for high blood sugars, high cholesterol, low mood, inflammation, etc. Increasing lean muscle should be a standard goal for all health practitioners to improve patient outcomes.
There you have it. The more lean muscle you carry, the healthier you’ll be and the longer you’ll live. Get yourself tested to establish a baseline and find a qualified practitioner in your area to help in your journey to a better brain, better body, better you.
You can also watch Jamie’s presentation online at:
Have a great weekend!
Dr. Marc Bubbs ND, CSCS
Note – If you aren’t sure if you have any practitioners in your area who can help, contact us at and we’d be happy to help direct you.
References –
1. Scott, Jamie. Under Appreciated Role of Muscle. AHS 2014