Food & Fitness After 50: Recovery After Hard Exercise

iStock-Older couple runningMany folks over the age of 50 are incredibility active: pickleball, tennis, swimming, running, hiking, and cycling are all popular with the 50+ crowd. I am often asked about hydration and recovery strategies and sometimes I hear some crazy things. So, what do you really need to help your body recover after a long, hard work out or competition? First let’s talk about two things you don’t need.

One, a new fad called “dry fasting,” or in other words, starvation and dehydration. The idea of dry fasting (no food or water) for a set period (anywhere from 3 days to a couple of weeks) is just plain dumb for everyone, but especially for older, active adults. We’ve talked about the important of hydration in previous posts, so click here for more information on the importance of hydration for older, active people. Just say no when you come across the YouTube videos of dry fasting enthusiastic followers and stick to your tried and true fueling and hydration strategies.

Another thing you don’t need is expensive waters that claim to be “smart” by changing the acidity and alkalinity (pH) of your blood. Organs, like lungs and kidneys, tightly control our blood pH in the range of 7.35 to 7.45; if gets higher it is called respiratory or metabolic alkalosis and if it is lower it is respiratory or metabolic acidosis and both are life threatening. There is no need to try to acidify or alkalize your body because your lungs and kidneys won’t let you do it anyway. The only thing “smart” about these waters is the money they are making for their promoters.

blood ph

For real recovery and hydration, here is what we know:

  • Fluids help restore body water.
  • Carbohydrates replenish muscle carbohydrate stores (glycogen).
  • High quality protein provides key amino acids for repairing muscles.
  • Antioxidant-rich beverages like tart cherry or blueberry juice provide plant compounds that can reduce inflammation and help with muscle soreness after a hard workout.
  • Omega-3s (often called fish oils) are also anti-inflammatory and most Americans don’t get enough of these healthy fats in their diets.

ERSA Norwegian food scientist, Janne Sande Mathisen, has combined all these ingredients into a new recovery beverage called Enhanced Recovery Sports Drink. The beverage contains 20 grams of whey protein with 2 grams of leucine (an amino acid referred to as the anabolic trigger), and 1600 milligrams of omega-3s. It was tricky to find a form of omega-3s that worked in solution that didn’t taste fishy.

The carbohydrate source is from fruit juices (apple, pear, and black current) to give both rapidly absorbed carbs and polyphenol-rich fruits (those antioxidant healthy plant compounds).

I was sent some samples to try and I shared them with some very active friends. The overwhelming consensus is that it is a tasty drink, not too sweet, and serving size of just a little over 8-ounces is the right amount to drink after a workout without bloating, aftertaste, or too much volume. I think it tastes like kefir; others say it tastes like a yogurt smoothie.

I like the food forward approach of this recovery drink and think it might be a good solution for combining recovery elements in to one simple-to-drink beverage. For competitive athletes who may have to undergo drug tests, the product is certified by Informed Sport to contain no banned substances that could disqualify an athlete from competition.

Disclosure: I was sent free samples of the product to try, but I was not asked to or compensated to write this post. I have no connection to the company.

For more tips on staying healthy while being active, check out Food & Fitness After 50, available on Amazon or other booksellers.

 

Food & Fitness After 50: Is There a Best Diet for Losing Weight?

dieting

Each week Obesity and Energetic Offerings arrives in my inbox. It is a weekly roundup of research from Indiana University School of Public Health and University of Alabama Birmingham Nutrition Obesity Research Center. One of my favorite features is called “Headline vs Study,” and a recent one on weight loss diets was intriguing.

The Headline: Study Reveals the Best Diet for Actually Losing Weight and Keeping It Off.

The Study: Exploratory, observational analysis: “Small differences in metabolic outcomes were apparent in participants following self-selected diets… However, results should be interpreted with caution given the exploratory nature of analyses.”

Being a nutrition nerd, I read the study titled “Intermittent fasting, Paleolithic, or Mediterranean diets in the real world: exploratory secondary analyses of a weight-loss trial that included choice of diet and exercise,” published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Here are the key takeways:

  • Conducted in New Zealand and Australia, the current study was a secondary analysis of data from a study on support strategies for three different diets and two different modes of exercise to understand different monitoring strategies that might encourage adherence to diets and exercise.
  • About 250 individuals who were healthy and had a body mass index that classified them as having overweight were selected and screened for height, weight, blood pressure, and blood sugar.
  • Individuals could choose one of three diets: Mediterranean, Paleo, or Intermittent Fasting (IF) and one of two exercise plans (recommended national guideline for exercise or high intensity intermittent training (HIIT). All participants were given detailed guidelines for the chosen diet and exercise plan.
  • The IF plan was the most popular, with 54% of participants choosing it, followed by Mediterranean diet (27%) and Paleo (18%).
  • Only half of the participants who choose the IF or Mediterranean diet were still following it at 12 months and one-third of the Paleo dieters were following the plan.
  • Adherence to any diet rapidly declines over time.
  • No matter which diet was followed, outcomes for weight loss, blood pressure, or blood sugar were modest.
  • There is difficulty following diet in a free-living environment without intensive ongoing support.

And, this is why it pays read beyond the headline and to dig deeper to get the real story.

All of this made me think of a recent presentation from Ted Kyle, founder of ConscienHealth and LeeAnn Kindness, of Tivity Health (Nutrisystem is one of their products) on the heterogeneity of obesity. According to Kindness, “77% of adults are actively trying to improve their health and more than 120 million are actively trying to lose weight.” Over the past 12 months, consumers have tried over 18 different dietary patterns to improve their health or lose weight. Yet, as was shown in the study on the three diet patterns, it is hard to stick with the plan.

So, what is “best?” Ted Kyle reminds us that the responses to diets vary. Study data usually report outcomes as averages of aggregate data, and we all know what an average is…that means that some people will lose weight on a specific plan while some people gain weight. He showed data from a study called DIETFITS on low carb vs low fat diets…. some people lost weight on both plans, but some people gained weight on both plans. “The same is true for any diet, drug regimen, or surgical intervention and the bottom line is one size doesn’t fit all,” says Kyle.

That is why programs like Nutrisystem are recognizing that “sustainable weight management requires a personalized approach, considering age, gender, food preferences, and goals,” says Kindness.

When choosing a plan for lifelong health, find something that works for you and seek the advice of a health professional who can help guide your choice and stick with the plan.

For more information on healthy food and exercise choices, check out Food & Fitness After 50, available at Amazon and other booksellers.

Disclosure: I attended a conference that paid for my travel expenses and the session mentioned was one of many over four days of education. I was not asked to write this post and was not compensated for it.

Copyright © 2019 [Christine Rosenbloom]. All Rights Reserved.

Food & Fitness After 50: Good Bones

A recent article in the Washington Post caught my attention because it related to an issue that older adults frequently ask about….how to protect their bones as they age.

Hip-Fracture-Surgery-Infection-640x444According to the study published in JAMA vitamin D supplements showed no effect on reducing hip fractures where as vitamin D plus calcium had about a 16% reduction in the risk of breaking a hip. Hip fracture is one of the most serious threats to health as we age. Here’s a few facts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • Each year over 300,000 older people—those 65 and older—are hospitalized for hip fractures.
  • More than 95% of hip fractures are caused by falling, usually by falling sideways.
  • Women experience three-quarters of all hip fractures.
    • Women fall more often than men.
    • Women more often have osteoporosis, a disease that weakens bones and makes them more likely to break.

Dietary Supplement Use for Bone Health

A recent survey from the Council on Responsible Medicine, a leading trade association for dietary supplements, shows that among consumers over 55 years of age who take dietary supplements, 31% cite bone health as a reason for supplementation. For younger age groups, bone health is not mentioned as a reason for supplementation. That is too bad because the time to build bone is when we are young! Peak bone mass is achieved somewhere around the age of 30 or 35 so waiting until you are 60 to start worrying about bone health is a bit too late. It’s like getting concerned about your cholesterol level after you’ve had a heart attack. (Side note to my older readers…encourage your grandchildren and great grandchildren to get plenty of bone building nutrients now!)

boneMass35Anthony Thomas, Director of Scientific Affairs for Jarrow Formulas puts it this way, “Maximizing peak bone mass is important when we are young to protect against age-related bone loss.  A 10% increase in peak bone mass is estimated to reduce the risk of osteoporotic fracture later in life by 50%, so early life deserves more attention to ensure sufficient nutrient intake and status to support bone health across the lifespan.”

It Takes More Than Calcium and Vitamin D to Make a Healthy Bone

natto
Natto

While the media focuses on calcium and vitamin D, Dr. Thomas reminds us that bone is more than those two nutrients. Healthy bones need the minerals magnesium, potassium, copper, manganese, silicon, boron, and zinc. Two underappreciated vitamins are also key, vitamins C and K. Vitamin C is needed to produce collagen, the most abundant protein in the body and building block of bone. Vitamin K helps calcium get deposited into bones. There are two forms of vitamin K, referred to as K1 and K2. K1 is most well-known for its role in blood clotting. But the K2 form promotes bone building. It is hard to get sufficient K2 from foods. Dr. Thomas points out that “vitamin K2 is from bacterial origin, so it is found in fermented foods in which bacteria are used as starter cultures in cheeses and sauerkraut.  The best dietary source of vitamin K2 in the form of MK-7 is the traditional Japanese dish natto, cooked soybeans fermented by the bacteria Bacillus subtilis subspecies natto, that while popular in Japan, is not much appreciated in the U.S.“ The best way to get this form of the vitamin is with supplements sold as MK-7.

“Based on emerging research, the supplemental doses used in research is a daily dose of vitamin K2 as MK-7 is 45 micrograms upwards of 360 micrograms is recommended,” adds Dr. Thomas.

Fall Protection

While foods and supplementation can help provide nutrients for healthy bones, don’t forget the ABCs (agility, balance, and coordination) as keys to help preventing falls. We’ve written about this before (click here for the post), but it pays to work on your balance with activities like yoga, Tai Chi, or simple exercises such as balancing on one foot when you brush your teeth. When it comes to balance, we can use it….or, we can lose it!

Check out this video from Silver Sneakers for easy exercises to improve your balance

For more information on foods and supplements for bone health and tips to improve your agility, balance, and coordination, see Food & Fitness After 50, available at Amazon and other booksellers.

Copyright © 2019 [Christine Rosenbloom]. All Rights Reserved.

Food & Fitness After 50: Cultural Connections Through Cuisine

My ancestry results came with some surprises. I’m 78% of Eastern European and Russian descent (no surprise) and 13% Eastern Jewish ancestry, which was a surprise. So, when I got the chance to spend time in Budapest, Hungary, I was excited to explore the cuisine that has deep ties to my ancestry.

20200122_223147
The Hungarian Parliament

The conference, FoodFluence, is an intimate gathering of food and nutrition influencers for 4 days of content, connections, and culture.  The conference includes a local, cultural speaker and Andres Jokuti, a Hungarian writer and authority of Budapest food culture, told us that Hungarian cuisine is truly a melting pot of cultures as well as a product of climate and location. As land-locked country with long, cold winters, hearty dishes of beef, pork, and poultry are staple proteins with the addition of grains, root vegetables, and beans. And, of course, we can’t forget paprika…spicy, sweet, or smoky, it is the lifeblood spice of Hungarian cuisine. The traditional Hungarian Goulash (a soup, not a stew, in Hungary) is a classic example. Hungarian cuisine is heavily influenced by Turkish, Italian, Austrian, Saxon, and Russian cultures, as well as the large Jewish population that once was a vibrant part of Hungarian life. It was the Hungarian Jewish cuisine that was of great interest to me.

Our first meal was at Kőleves Vendéglő in what remains of the Jewish ghetto. The starter was matzoh ball soup made with goose broth. I associate matzoh ball soup with chicken stock, but in Hungary goose is a common fowl and makes for a very rich and flavorful broth. At another famous Budapest restaurant, Rosenstein, I had matzoh ball soup with beef broth….both were delicious!

 

cholant
Cholent with Goose and Tongue

The most memorable meal we had was prepared as a private dinner by Miklaus, an older gentleman who runs a cooking school in his apartment, but this night prepared a traditional Jewish meal and served it to us in his daughter’s restaurant, M, a small dinner-only restaurant in the Jewish ghetto. Matzoh ball soup with goose broth and goose neck, roasted chicken with Brussels sprouts, and a classic, totally and completely Jewish dish, cholent. You could say that cholent is the original slow cooker meal long before the advent of crock pots. Since observant Jews did no work on the Sabbath, including cooking, a dish of meat, beans, grains, vegetables, and often egg, was made as a stew on Friday before the lighting of the Shabbat candles. The dish was put in a slow oven to cook overnight. In Budapest, Jewish families would take their cholent to the local bakery and use the baking ovens to slow cook their dishes overnight and retrieve them in time for the Sabbath dinner. Every family had their own recipe and it reflected the local ingredients and time-honored family traditions. Miklaus’ cholent was made with barley, beans, goose, and beef tongue. I remember the first time I had tongue served by my mother-in-law; stewing the meat for a long time makes it tender but for most of us it isn’t very appealing. But, using every bit of the animal made eating very sustainable for families with limited means. We finished the meal with a less traditional dessert, by Miklaus’ daughter, a pastry whiz. A decadent molten chocolate cake with salted caramel ice cream was the best sweet I’ve ever eaten!

IMG_3404We also enjoyed Hungarian wines, with 22 wine regions, an empty glass is not an option. I wish Hungarian wines were imported to the states but I not many leave the region.

Another traditional Jewish dish is a dessert called Flodni. The most famous is made by Rachel Raj, a Hungarian celebrity with a warm, vibrant personality, sometimes called the Rachel Ray of Hungary. But, after meeting her, I think Rachel Ray is the Rachel Raj of the U.S. The pastry is made with layers of poppy seeds, apple, walnuts, and plum jam between thin layers of flaky pastry, from a secret family recipe. Rachel made Flodni for all the participants at FoodFluence and it was greatly appreciated.

_FFA0498 2
I enjoyed meeting Rachel Raj 

I mentioned beef-broth matzoh ball soup at Rosenstein, and I also tried Hungarian stuffed cabbage made with goose instead of ground beef and served on a bed of sauerkraut. Loads of cabbage and very rich and different from the Ukrainian stuffed cabbage that was a staple during my childhood. IMG_3485 2

20200117_110651

The immersion into Jewish culture and cuisine was made all the more meaningful because during our visit it was the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the concentration and extermination camp of Auschwitz. During a private tour of the largest synagogue in Europe, we learned that in May of 1944, toward the end of the war, more than 424, 000 Jews were deported to Auschwitz in just 8 weeks-time. In total, more than 565,000 Hungarian Jews were murdered in the holocaust. It was a sober reminder that we must all stay vigilant and replace hatred of those different from ourselves with love and acceptance.

If you are reading this post you know I usually write about the nutrition and health value of food, but the cultural meaning of food is just as important. The bottom line is that food is more than nutrients or the ability to lower cholesterol or fight inflammation. Food is love. I am grateful for the experience of eating the meals prepared with love by the warm and welcoming Hungarian people.