Q. I read in your newsletter that older people may need more protein than the recommended 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight to maintain muscle mass as they age. How much more, at age 75, might I need? Is 1.0 gram per kilogram of body weight too much?
After youve reached a certain age, does eating right really matter? As a reader of this newsletter, you might take it for granted that the answer is, Yes, of course!-after all, you subscribe to a publication whose tagline is Living healthier longer. But exactly how does nutrition affect the health of older individuals?
If youre over age 40, the odds are nearly one in four that youre taking statin medications to improve your cholesterol levels. And if doctors and patients follow prevention guidelines released earlier this year, almost half the over-40 population would be taking the prescription drugs, including almost all men ages 60 to 75. …
A new study reports that the more physically fit you are when youre younger, the more likely you are to keep your brain sharp as you get older. But theres also good news for those who slacked off in their youth: Even starting to get more fit now might still improve your cognitive health.
One of the largest and longest-running studies of its kind reports that older adults can improve their chances of being able to keep moving later in life by getting going now. The Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders (LIFE) trial involved 1,635 sedentary men and women, ages 70 to 89, at eight universities and research centers across the country, including Tufts. Those randomly assigned to an exercise program were significantly less likely to become disabled over 2.6 years than those in a control group. The difference was observed in both short-term, acute disability risk and in long-term, chronic disability.
In women over age 30, a new Australian study reports, physical inactivity is the single biggest contributor to heart-disease risk. Researchers followed 32,154 women in three age groups, calculating how smoking, high blood pressure, physical inactivity and excess weight contributed to their heart risk. In younger women, smoking status was the most important factor in heart disease risk. But for women in their 70s, for example, being physically active would lower the risk almost three times as much as quitting smoking, and significantly more than losing weight or reducing blood pressure.
Another study has shown that aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, boosts your brain-actually increasing the size of the hippocampus, a key part of the inner brain involved in forming, storing and processing memory. When compared to an earlier study of cognitively healthy older adults, moreover, the findings suggest that aerobic exercise offers greatest benefits to those who need it most: people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), often a precursor to Alzheimers disease.
If youve been trying to follow the advice to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, two new studies might inspire you to try harder-and to aim for even more daily produce. Both studies found even greater benefits from consuming more than five daily servings of fruits and vegetables.
Arthritis sufferers worldwide spend more than $2 billion a year on glucosamine, and more than 1 in 10 US adults use the supplement. But the latest clinical trial of glucosamine has once again failed to find evidence that it does any good.
Most Americans get plenty of protein-in fact, their problem isnt too little protein but too much of the calories and saturated fat that accompany such popular protein sources as cheeseburgers or fried chicken. But people over age 50 might need to pay attention to getting adequate protein, not just at dinner time but throughout the day. Tufts researchers are finding that a steady intake of protein from healthy sources, combined with aerobic activity and weight-training exercises, can help counter the loss of muscle mass often associated with aging.