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How Protein Helps the Elderly Combat Cognitive and Physical Decline

by Dr. David Minkoff June 18, 2019 4 min read 0 Comments

How Protein Helps the Elderly Combat Cognitive and Physical Decline

The following is adapted from The Search for the Perfect Protein.

At my clinic, we have an anti-aging practice. It’s not uncommon for older people to come to us and say, “My memory isn’t great, and I don’t have energy like I used to. Can you help me?” It’s heartbreaking every time because people don’t want to feel or act old.

They want to feel and think like their younger selves, except their physical and cognitive decline is making that nearly impossible. Do these folks have hope for improvement?

Absolutely. To varying degrees, older people can always improve. In fact, they often have the most room for improvement due to how bad things have gotten.

In the breakdowns we see with older patients, a common culprit is poor nutrition. Some of the elderly can’t afford a high-nutrition diet, and some simply don’t know what good nutrition looks like—they don’t eat well or don’t supplement correctly.

In this article, we’ll see how poor nutrition spins out into other health problems related to our physical and mental well-being, and what the elderly can do to combat it.

 

Aging Isn’t Solely Responsible for Lean Muscle Loss

It’s impossible to prevent all age-related breakdowns, but they can definitely be slowed down and whole-body performance can improve. When we contrast MRI images of a person’s arm muscles at age twenty and fifty, we can see that the average person loses about thirty percent of their lean body weight throughout those years.

Normally, this is considered a byproduct of aging, but studies completed at USC show that the cells of an older person can make protein just as well as those of a twenty-year-old—the real problem is that their dietary habits and poor GI function don’t supply their bodies with the nutrients they need to maintain lean body mass.

Another issue with many older people is that they aren’t using or stressing their muscles like they used to. For example, when I was forty, there were 300 men in my age group for Ironman races. Now that I’m seventy, and there are usually only ten or twenty.

Most men my age are retired and have the time to commit to training, and I believe many of them would if their bodies weren’t broken down. Those who continue to train and maintain their performance are doing the right things physically and nutritionally.

 

Dealing with a Lifetime of Environmental Toxins

The elderly have also spent a lifetime living with environmental toxins. As a result, their intestinal membranes are often thin, and there is a delayed turnover of the inner-lining cells—making them more susceptible to diverticulitis and infections.

Normal intestinal cell turnover should occur every three or four days, but without enough essential amino acids, vitamins, and minerals, it might happen every seven to ten days.

This means that the membranes are not as strong as they should be. The junctions where membranes meet can become unsealed, and bacteria can work their way into the urinary tract or bloodstream. Also, our blood contains immune proteins called immunoglobulins that protect us from infection, but if they are low, our ability to resist a virus or bacteria decreases. Amino acids keep your immunoglobulin levels up.

If one can maintain their nutrition throughout the years, they will stay active and mentally competent—nutrition is the most important factor of healthy aging. Essential amino acids are also key, so I make it a habit to take supplements every day.

I want to be doing Ironman races well into my eighties and beyond!

 

Protein Malnourishment Can Look Like Alzheimer’s

There’s no doubt that nutritional deficiencies play a large role in the rise of Alzheimer’s we’ve seen in the past twenty years. However, just because the symptoms look like Alzheimer’s doesn’t that’s the culprit. A lack of protein may be to blame.

A four-star World War II general brought his 93-year-old wife to see me. They had been married for seventy-two years, but she no longer recognized him. It was heartbreaking. She had been to several neurologists, yet none of them had been able to help.

Through testing, we discovered she was protein malnourished, lead-toxic, and saddled with other issues. Amino acid supplements were part of her therapy, and after about six months of treatment, she improved to the point where she knew everyone’s name in the clinic, could count to 100, and most importantly, recognized her husband!

One day, she brought in a scrapbook from her childhood, identified every person, and told me the story behind every picture. It was obvious that rectifying her protein deficiency with amino acid supplements played a big role in repairing her brain.

The success of her treatment sparked curiosity and motivation in her 92-year-old husband. He loved to play golf, but could no longer see the ball due to macular degeneration. We created a similar nutrition program for him. After three-months, he scored a documented two-line improvement on the eye chart.

He saw the golf ball again and actually beat his 72-year-old son in a game!

For more advice on combating physical and cognitive decline, you can find The Search for the Perfect Protein on Amazon.

For the #1 Essential Amino Acid supplement that 99% utilized by the body to create new protein look HERE.

Dr. David Minkoff is board certified in pediatrics and served as codirector of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Palomar Medical Center in San Diego, California. With his wife, Sue, he cofounded LifeWorks Wellness Center in 1997, and in 2000, he cofounded BodyHealth, a nutrition company that offers a unique range of dietary supplements to the public and medical practitioners. A forty-two-time IRONMAN finisher, Dr. Minkoff is passionate about fitness and continues to train on a regular basis. He and his wife reside in Clearwater, Florida.

Dr. David Minkoff
Dr. David Minkoff

Dr. David Minkoff graduated from the University of Wisconsin Medical School in 1974 and was elected to the “Phi Beta Kappa” of medical schools, the prestigious Alpha Omega Alpha Honors Medical Fraternity for very high academic achievement. He then completed both a Pediatric Residency and Fellowship in Infectious Disease at the University of California at San Diego.

He worked at the University of California and Children’s Hospitals in San Diego as an attending physician in infectious disease while conducting original research on Ribaviron, a broad spectrum anti-viral agent to fight disease. He also co-directed a neo-natal intensive care unit and worked in emergency medicine.

In 1992, Dr Minkoff’s wife Sue, a Registered Nurse, became interested in nutrition and health and began to go to lectures from some of the experts in the field. At the time, Dr Minkoff was pretty fixed in his view of traditional medicine and it took a lot of convincing to get him to come to one of these lectures. After hearing Dr Jeffrey Bland speak, Dr Minkoff had a eureka moment and began pursuing the alternative field with a vengeance. Based on this new knowledge Dr Minkoff and his wife set up a small clinic in 1997 to help some friends with their medical problems. What began as an experiment blossomed into Lifeworks Wellness Center, one of the most successful clinics for complementary medicine in the United States. In the process, he gained expertise in Biological medicine, integrative oncology, heavy metal detoxification, anti-aging medicine, hormone replacement therapy, functional medicine, energy medicine, neural and prolotherapy, homeopathy and optimum nutrition. He studied under the masters in each of these disciplines until he became an expert in his own right. Dr Minkoff is one of the most in demand speakers in the field and wrote an Amazon best selling book called The Search For The Perfect Protein.

The demand for the products and protocols he discovered became a catalyst for founding BodyHealth.Com, a nutrition company that now manufactures and distributes cutting-edge nutritional solutions for the many health problems of today. Dr. Minkoff writes two free online newsletters, “The Optimum Health Report” and ”The BodyHealth Fitness Newsletter”, to help others learn about optimum health and fitness.

Dr. Minkoff is an avid athlete himself and has completed 44 Ironman Triathlons. To keep his fitness maximal, he lives the lifestyle he teachers to others and tries to set an example for others, so they can enjoy a life free of pain and full of energy.



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