375: Food and Fitness After 50 with Christine Rosenbloom, PhD, RDN
Today, I’m talking to Dr. Christine Rosenbloom, PHD, RDN. She has over 40 years of experience in nutrition with specialties in sports nutrition and gerontology. She is Nutrition Professor Emeritus at Georgia State University as well as the President of Chris Rosenbloom Food & Nutrition Services, where she provides nutrition consulting.
In her book, Food and Fitness After 50: Eat Well, Move Well, Be Well, she shares her personal experiences and offers a common-sense approach to help you learn what it takes to control your food choices and fitness strategies as you navigate your 50s, 60s, 70s, and beyond. Brilliantly, she translates the latest science on aging, nutrition, and exercise into simple actionable steps.
In our conversation, Christine shares the story of how she found her purpose by helping older people live healthier lives through better eating and physical activity, the undeniable links between nutrition, mobility, and wellness, and everything you can do to ensure the greatest quality of life for as long as possible.
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In this podcast interview, you’ll learn:
- How to start making sense of the overwhelming amount of information about our health (and our finances!) out there.
- How to build a fitness plan to meet your goals–even if you just want to be able to carry your own suitcases and play golf into your 90s.
- Why managing sleep, stress, and social connections is so important.
- Different approaches you can take to manage your well-being before adding another pill to your daily routine.
- Why the low-fat approach from the 1970s and 80s persists–and why Chris would never recommend it now.
- "I’m not so into the number of years that I live. I’m more interested in having a good quality of life until the end." - @chrisrosenbloom
- "The strong live long is what we say." - @chrisrosenbloom
- Dr. Chris Rosenbloom
- Dr. Chris Rosenbloom on LinkedIn
- Dr. Chris Rosenbloom on Twitter
- Dr. Chris Rosenbloom on Instagram
- Food and Fitness After 50: Eat Well, Move Well, Be Well by Christine Rosenbloom, Bob Murray
- Marshal Johnson
- Georgia State University
- Kent State University
- University of Minnesota
- Bob Murray
- Mothers Against Drunk Driving
- Peter Attia
- Peter Diamandis
- Dan Sullivan
- Blue Zones
- Endocrine Society
- Office of Dietary Supplements
- National Institutes of Health
- Dr. Charles Brenner
- United States Pharmacopeia
- Nature Made
- Sam’s Club
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Casey Weade: Welcome to the Retire with Purpose podcast. My name is Casey Weade, where it is my mission to provide you clarity and purpose and elevate meaning in your life with personal and practical financial strategies. But it gets broader than that. We do that in a couple of different ways. Of course, Marshal Johnson and myself, we get together every single Friday and we walk you through some trending topics in a short-form podcast. But then what you’re joining us for here today is the opportunity for us to bring on world-class experts. And we do that in all areas of life and finance, whether that is psychology, whether that is finance and investment management, tax planning, and also nutrition and fitness. And that is the expert that we’re bringing to you here today.
Today, we have registered dietitian, nutritionist, Dr. Christine Rosenbloom, also known as Chris, and she has over 40 years of experience in nutrition with specialties in sports nutrition and gerontology. She is a Nutrition Professor Emeritus at Georgia State University, President of Chris Rosenbloom Food & Nutrition Services, where she provides nutrition consulting to food and nutrition-related groups. She holds a bachelor’s degree in food and nutrition and a doctorate in sociology with an emphasis on gerontology. And we’re going to be focusing today, in large part, on her book, Food and Fitness After 50: Eat Well, Move Well, Be Well.
Casey Weade: Chris, welcome to the podcast.
Dr. Chris Rosenbloom: Well, thank you, Casey. It’s great to be here and I appreciate the opportunity to talk about a topic that, as you indicated, I’ve been doing for a very long time and I still really enjoy doing it, so I’m glad to be here.
Casey Weade: Well, that is the definition of purpose. Is it not? It’s amazing what you have created and the impacts that you have made on just so many lives. And that impact has come out of combining two different kind of fields of study, that being a sports nutrition and combining that with aging. I mean, just your degree itself, getting a degree in nutrition and getting a degree in sociology with an emphasis on gerontology, that’s a pretty unique focus. And so, I wanted to kick it off there and just get an idea of what inspired you to combine these two different fields.
Dr. Chris Rosenbloom: Well, as with a lot of things in life, it just happened. It really wasn’t that planful. Well, I know you’re talking about planning, and that’s important too. But I started out just being a registered dietitian. I really liked that. Since I was 13, I wanted to be a dietitian. And my high school yearbook actually says future dietitian under the picture. And so, I got my degree at Kent State University. I did an internship at the University of Minnesota, and then I came to Atlanta and started working in cardiac rehab.
And cardiac rehab is an opportunity not just to help people with their nutrition, but also the exercise and fitness component was so important in that, especially early on when people thought, “Oh, you can’t exercise after you’ve had a heart attack, you have to be on bedrest.” And so, the whole paradigm shifted when cardiac rehab came in. And so, I always had that fitness aspect to it.
And personally, I never exercised a day in my life until I was 25 when I was working in cardiac rehab. And the physician encouraged us to run with the patients, run laps around the gym with the patients. So, there’s no better way to counsel somebody than doing activity with them. So, that’s how I started getting into the fitness.
And then when I joined the university, somebody asked me if I would do some work in sports nutrition. I said, “I don’t know anything about sports nutrition,” and I said, “I just applied nutrition. I can figure it out.” So, then I started in sports nutrition, and then my department chair said, “You have to get a PhD if you want to stay here.” So, I took courses in gerontology as a stall tactic. I loved it.
And so, I went on, got my PhD. So, I thought, when I retire, I’d like to combine those two into something. So, I work with a great exercise physiologist, Dr. Bob Murray, in Chicago, and we came up with the idea for Food and Fitness After 50. So, kind of a convoluted route there, but it worked.
Casey Weade: Well, you said, Food and Fitness After 50. What made you draw this line in the sand at 50? Why not 48? Why not 55? Why not 60? Is there something unique or special about that particular age?
Dr. Chris Rosenbloom: I had good alliteration, so like that Food and Fitness After 50. But no, I think a lot of people feel like as they’re getting older, they start to get interested in nutrition. They could slack off a lot when they were younger. And so, I think especially in today’s generation, nutrition and fitness wasn’t a big part of their life like it is now.
I see my nieces and nephews and great nieces and nephews being really active and caring about what they eat for the most part. But I think that today’s generation from the baby boomers, it wasn’t as big a deal. So, I think people are really hungry for information. They’re trying to sort through all the information that’s out there.
And at 50, I think people start to see, hey, I’m not going to live forever, but I want to live well. I’m more concerned with my health span, the number of years of healthy life I have, versus lifespan, just the number of years I have. And what we do for our activity, whether it’s the eat well, move well, and be well piece can greatly impact how we get into our older age.
Casey Weade: You say that everybody’s trying to sort through this information. And I got to say that I myself am there, too. I mean, we’ve had so many different experts here on the pod. We’ve had so many different books that we’ve consumed over the years, so many different podcasts that we’ve listened to over the years, and experts we’ve watched on TV, experts I’ve seen in person, and doctors and physicians that I’ve met with. And it just seems that it gets more complex.
It’s much like the world of finance. It’s like, well, the more options we have, the more experts and the more knowledge and tools we have, the more you have, the less you seem to know. Is there ever going to be a single voice of reason when it comes to health and nutrition? How do we manage the incoming information and conflicting information at that?
Dr. Chris Rosenbloom: That’s a great question, and it’s something I struggle with every day. I think, especially everything that comes through my feed, whether it’s on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter, you have to read beyond the headlines. That’s the main thing I always tell people, read beyond the headlines because the headlines are there for you to click on. It’s just a lot of it is clickbait so that they can get more subscribers and advertisers and views and eyes on their pages. So, when people say, “Oh, I saw artificial sweeteners were toxic,” it’s like, did you read the article or did you just read the headline? So, I think that you’ve got to really read beyond the headlines.
Another thing that I always say to people when they say, “Well, I saw this doctor and he says supplement X is the best and you should take this,” and I always say, “Let me ask you this, does that doctor sell that supplement? Because if they’re selling that supplement, they probably have a really good reason to promote it to you.” So, I say, “Look, just beyond the headlines, look beyond the face on the screen, just really dig in to what it is they’re saying.”
But even that it’s really hard, it’s hard to balance it all. I think that’s why in our book, we wanted to have a more practical perspective. One of the tenets for me about food, especially as we get older, is you should enjoy it. I see so much fear-based eating. I see people who are even in their 70s and 80s saying, “I’m afraid to eat that.” Why? It’s food. It’s not a moral decision. People say, “I was so bad last night, I ate ice cream.” Food is not a moral issue. You’re not a bad person because you ate a bowl of ice cream. You ate it because it tastes good.
So, I think we’re just so hard on ourselves. And then all of this stuff in social media and those headlines get us even more confused. So, I always like to tell people, “Relax.”
Casey Weade: Again, we see the interaction similarities between this field and finance. It’s the headlines that get us. If we don’t dig deeper, then we’re just getting the headlines. They’re designed to grab our eyes. And then we have to check our sources, we have to understand what kind of bias somebody might have when they’re delivering any type of advice, no matter what that advice might be. What kind of car that you want? You walk into a BMW dealership and say you want a Mercedes. What are they going to sell you? Probably a BMW, right?
So, we have all these conflicts. And you mentioned that there’s individuals in their 70s or 80s that are saying, “Wow, I’m afraid to eat that.” I see quite the opposite. I was actually sitting down with a gentleman that was in his mid-70s the other day and he said, “Well, I’m going to have a Coke because I know I don’t have much time left. I’m going to enjoy the time that I have here.” And I see that quite a bit, even with the families that we work with that listen to podcasts, and some of the feedback that I get from them, they say, “It’s just too late. I might as well enjoy what I have left.” So, what do you say to people that feel they’re going to be missing out too much on life focused or overly focused on these types of things and kind of leaning into that good old quote, it’s not the years in your life, but the life in your years?
Dr. Chris Rosenbloom: I always tell people it’s never too late. It’s never too late to start eating more healthily or to start being physically active. And then, I often tell people, statistically, if you make it to age 65, your life expectancy is another 20 years. So, how do you want to live those 20 years? I’ve never met anybody who says, “Oh, I want to be in the nursing home. I want to be in a wheelchair and somebody pushed me around.”
Now, people want to be functionally fit. And I think that’s the one thing we always emphasize. I always ask people, what is it you love to do? For me, it’s gardening. I love to travel. I have a giant dog that I like to walk. So, what’s important to me is to be able to bend and stoop and pull weeds and lift and push the wheelbarrow. It’s important for me to lift my suitcase in the overhead bin or take it on and off the train when I’m in Europe. And it’s important for me to be able to lift a 50-pound bag of dog food. So, those are the things I focus on and thinking how can I stay strong to do the things I love. I’m never going to be in a bodybuilding contest or a fitness contest. That’s not my goal.
My goal is to be independent. I just turned 72 and I hope that I can say, I’m still independent at 80 because I am doing the little things. I am not fanatic about it, but I do work out with a personal trainer once a week and I go to the Y and do classes and I walk my dog every day and I garden. So, things that I like to do then allows me to continue to do them. So, I think it’s kind of that mind shift that you need to think about.
Casey Weade: Yeah, it’s much like building a financial plan. Again, I hate to make all these parallels, but I mean it very much is, right? We defined the purpose. Why are we doing this in the first place? That creates motivation. And I love that. I love thinking, well, what are the things that I love today, rather than just generally being healthy, which can seem very daunting. We could go, well, I love to play golf. So, if I love to play golf, what are the handful of things that I need to do to be able to continue playing golf in my 70s and 80s and maybe even into my 90s? So, I love getting really focused on what those things exactly are.
And in your book, Food and Fitness After 50, the subtitle is Eat Well, Move Well, Be Well. So, it sounds like we have three things that we need to focus on in order to be able to play golf in our 80s. And maybe it’s very specific when you really drill down to whatever that activity might be that you want to continue to participate in. What is the intersection and priority of these three things –eating well, moving well, and being well?
Dr. Chris Rosenbloom: Well, I think, first, for the eating well piece, of course, since I’m a dietitian, I like to look at it a couple of ways. One, people want to focus on a specific food, superfood. And I always tell them there’s really no superfood, whether it’s ale or kale, you can include them both in your diet. But it’s the dietary pattern, the overall intake that’s important.
So, if you want to have this ice cream, fine. But what else are you eating that day? So, I like to try to think of a diet plan that contains all of the energy-containing nutrients. That’s carbohydrate, protein, and fat. I’m not a big advocate of it should be a carnivore diet and only eat meat or it should be a total ketogenic diet that you don’t eat any carbs. I think having a balance of those three things is important.
We talk a lot about today of sustainability in the sense of agriculture, but I think your diet should be sustainable, too. It’s really hard to stay on any of those diet plans for very long that are restrictive. That’s why we have so many people just can’t stay on it, so they’re always looking for the best new thing.
The other thing I think is important as we get older is our calorie needs decline. Even if we’re active, our calorie needs decline a bit, but we still need the same nutrients or sometimes even more. So, choosing nutrient-rich foods are really important. So, it’s the fruits and the vegetables and the whole grains and the lean meat and the things that you know you should be eating more of. There’s less room in your diet for a basket of chips and salsa and a pitcher of margaritas than there were when you were in your 20s. So, a little bit more thought going into that.
And then the other thing, I think, the realistic thing is that we do have more chronic diseases as we get older. Even healthy people have high blood pressure, they have heart disease, they have arthritis. So, there are things that are going to happen when you get older, even if you’re as healthy as you can be, so choosing foods that help support that. I talked to so many people that say, “Oh yeah, I’ve had bypass surgery, but I didn’t have it till I was 65, so I’m fine now.” It’s like, no, you’re not fine now. Those vessels that were bypassed can get locked up again. So, why not start thinking about a healthy eating pattern now instead of just relying on the statins?
Statins are very important for managing cholesterol, but also, if you’re eating well, you may need less of a drug. You can cut back on the drugs and that cuts back on the cost and the side effects. So, it doesn’t have to be an either/or thing. So, those are the kind of things that I look at when I talk to people about their diet and their choices as they get older.
Casey Weade: So, eating well, moving well, and being well, are these three independent things? Or if we eat well and move well, are we being well?
Dr. Chris Rosenbloom: No, I think being well, we tend to look at things like our social networks and social support. There was a great study out of Harvard that has studied men and women since 1935. And they’re finding what makes them really happy and successful as they age. It’s not wealth because you have to have your health to have good wealth, right? I mean, why have wealth if you don’t have health?
But it was social support, it was that social network. And particularly for men, because especially this older generation, a lot of men relied on their wives for their social support. That was their social interaction. It’s the wives that dragged them out to the club to have dinner after rounds of golf. It was the wives that connected them to their neighborhood. So, finding that social support is important.
The other thing, I think, is how to manage stress. People say, “How do I get rid of stress?” You can’t. You’re going to live in this world, you’re going to have stress, but you have to find ways to be resilient. I think resilience is one of those things that comes up a lot. And then another S and they’re sleep, and we really have to focus on getting good quality sleep. So, those are things that can help you be well, but they can all intersect. So, we don’t want to put it each in a silo, but it’s easier in the book to talk about each separately.
Casey Weade: So, those are your three S’s – sleep, stress, and social connections. Sleep, stress, and social connection. And is that really a tie back to longevity? If we get good sleep, if we keep our stress levels low, and we maintain social connections, are these kind of the three-legged stools of longevity, if you will?
Dr. Chris Rosenbloom: Yeah, I think so. I think all those things are really important, and really, studies show that the people who are most resilient or who find a positive way to cope with stress instead of a negative way. I think the best example and I think what we used in our book was Mothers Against Drunk Driving. I mean, here, these women turned a tragic situation of losing a child to a drunk driver, and instead of drinking or doing drugs to numb their pain, they started an organization to educate others about drunk driving. And that’s changed a lot of how we think, and messages that you see, to give your keys away or to call an Uber. So, they had a big impact in a positive way.
So, that to me was a great example of how do you deal with stress in a positive way instead of a negative way. Instead of, well, I need a drink or I’m going to take this pill, go out and do something more positive. For me, I think, to exercise is so important to manage stress. I mean, I always said, if I was President, I’d make everybody start off the day with a five-mile walk. I think we’d all be better off if we got some exercise every day. It really helps. I’m not saying it makes you, gives you that chemical high that people talk about, but it also just can help alleviate your stress and sort of center and bring it back to reality.
Casey Weade: This thing about longevity, it’s become such a big buzzword today. We’ve got Peter Attia, Peter Diamandis. You have Dan Sullivan. And Dan Sullivan is saying he’s living to 156, right? And so, my question to you I have to ask is, I mean, most of these individuals are not physicians. I would say they’re very deep and they’re experts in this field, of course. However, they’re not physicians. And I always like to ask, what are your thoughts on longevity? Where are we going when it comes to longevity? What’s that mean? And how long are you going to live?
Dr. Chris Rosenbloom: Well, that last question, I have no idea, but...
Casey Weade: When you think about it, have you thought about that and said, “Well, I think I could live to this age if I do X, Y, and Z”?
Dr. Chris Rosenbloom: I don’t think about it in terms of specific age. I do think about it more in terms of are we financially able to live comfortably as we get older. So, we think about that. My husband and I do that. We’ve been into financial planning since I started studying aging because if you’re going to age, well, you have to have good financial underpinnings for that. So, that is important.
I think when it comes to the other longevity stuff, there’s a lot of what we call biohacking going on by especially young men who think I’ll wear this glucose monitor and I’ll monitor every blood sugar dip. It’s almost become their hobby and their life passion. And it is fine, but I think it’s hard for everybody to translate what works for you, what’s going to work for everybody else.
And so, to me, I’m not so into the number of years that I live, but as I said earlier, I’m more interested in having a good quality of life until the end. And that is important for those functional fitness things that I mentioned. So, I’m much less concerned with the number of years that I’m going to live other than I want to live those years well and be as healthy as I can until I can’t be.
Casey Weade: And I think that someone says, how long do you want to live? And my dad would say, “Ah, I don’t want to live to 100. That’d be terrible.” And I think we just have this idea that once we reach certain ages, we won’t be living well anymore. You gave an example before we started the conversation here today about your mother-in-law living to age 93.
Dr. Chris Rosenbloom: Right.
Casey Weade: Can we still expect to live to 100 and beyond and actually live well in those years?
Dr. Chris Rosenbloom: I think some people can. But the other thing is you look at some examples of people who have lived to 100 and they’ll say, “Yeah, I smoked cigarettes till I was 90. And then I didn’t see well enough to light my cigarette, so I gave it up.” So, their genetics come into play too. So, if you didn’t choose your parents well, the genetics are always going to come into play. I mean it’s not the end all, be all. Your genetics when it comes to risk for disease, it’s not like eye color, it’s not determined at birth. But genetics definitely come into play.
And there are people that do have very long lives. You’ve probably talked to the people who’ve talked about the Blue Zones. And I think it’s fascinating, but it’s hard to take something out of somebody’s life and then translate it to our life. For example, we’re not shepherds. We’re not going to be climbing up in the hills in Sardinia to tend to our goats and sheep. That’s just not going to happen here. So, how do we take what we learn from those folks and then translate it? And a lot of other things that we’ve already talked about, it’s eating a balanced diet, not being totally restrictive, but eating within your calorie budget, so to speak, being physically active in any way that works best for you, and then having those factors like the social support and stress management.
Casey Weade: Well, I wanted to focus a good portion of our conversation today in the areas of vitamins and diet and nutrition, not just because those are your areas of expertise, but because those are the areas that we receive about 90% of our questions. And we received a lot of great questions from our fans, our Weekend Reading subscribers. So, if you’re listening and you go, “Well, how do I ask Chris a question?”
Well, one, you could be following us on Facebook and watching live right now. Two, as a Weekend Reading subscriber, you’re invited at least a week prior to the interview to submit your questions so that I can bring those into the conversation. Super easy to sign up, just text WR to 866-482-9559.
So, let’s get into vitamins, and we’re going to talk about diet and nutrition. And I have my question first, so I get to go first, it’s my podcast. Vitamins, if there was one vitamin that you could put in the water, what would it be?
Dr. Chris Rosenbloom: Ooh, that’s a good question. Probably Vitamin D. I think that’s the one that people are really interested in. And as we get older, our natural ability to make vitamin D from sunlight declines. Most of you know that the vitamin D from ultraviolet light hits your skin, and then it makes this cholesterol-like compound into an inactive form of vitamin D, then it goes to your liver and then it goes to your kidneys before it’s active. And all those processes slow down as we get older.
So, I think vitamin D is one that it’s harder for us to get. So, I think taking it in a supplement form, putting it in foods, we already do put it in some foods, vitamin D fortified milk and some of the dairy products, some breakfast cereals. It’s fortified in some things, but a lot of people are vitamin D deficient. The problem is we don’t really still have a great measurement for vitamin D. You can get blood levels done, but if you talk to the Endocrine Society, they’re going to say it’s a different level for normal than another group. So, we’re still trying to figure out exactly what the best level is. I think that would be one vitamin that I would say we all could probably use more of as we get older.
Casey Weade: And I don’t know what the averages are, how people typically consume their vitamins. I take all my vitamins individually. I don’t take any type of single one-a-day type of vitamin. Everything is taken individually. And what are your thoughts on one-a-day vitamins versus taking these as individual supplements?
Dr. Chris Rosenbloom: I think for most people or for many people that are healthy, a multivitamin is a good, sometimes we call it, an insurance policy. And it really helps get at some of those micronutrients, like semi-zinc or selenium or things that people might not think about or they may not be as prevalent in their diet. So, you make sure that you cover your basis with that.
I think the problem, though, with the multivitamin, it also makes people think, “Oh, I don’t need to eat well because I’m getting everything I need in this vitamin.” And for example, I think calcium is a great example. You can’t get all the calcium you need in one vitamin pill because it would be about the size of a golf ball. So, you’ll get some calcium, but you’re not going to get all of the calcium that you need from that.
The only concern I have about these individual nutrients is that vitamins, there’s a safety range within them. It isn’t more is better. So, if you’re taking a lot of one vitamin, it might throw the balance off of another nutrient. Sometimes they compete for absorption. So, if you’re taking a lot of calcium, for example, it may interfere with your absorption of zinc. So, I think looking at it more from a balance perspective is helpful.
There are plenty of good resources out there. One of my favorites is the Office of Dietary Supplements. It’s from the National Institutes of Health, and it goes through all of those we call the letter vitamins, A, B, C, D, and it talks about what the safe range is. And also, for many vitamins, there’s something called an upper tolerable limit. So, I would say if you’re taking a lot of vitamins, look at what you’re taking and then look at the dose and then look up the tolerable limit. Are you exceeding that? So, I would stay within that unless you have a deficiency as defined by a blood test or your doctor and you’ve been told to take more. But for most healthy people, I’d say that’s a good place to start.
Casey Weade: That was one of our questions from one of our subscribers. Kristen had asked a question about, she says she takes a lot of vitamins and supplements. She wants to know an easy-to-use guideline of how much and when to take those things. That National Institute of Health, is that the resource that you would point to then?
Dr. Chris Rosenbloom: Absolutely. It’s the Office of Dietary Supplement or ODS and it’s part of NIH. And they have a consumer section that goes through each vitamin and mineral and talks about what it’s good for, what the research shows in a succinct way for lots of different disease states, and then what those levels are so that you know. But I do think a lot of people think, “Well, more is better, so I’ll just keep taking it.”
And I’ll give you, a good example of that was zinc. A lot of people feel like when the cold’s coming on, they should take zinc because some studies show that zinc has the ability to attach to the bacteria in the back of your throat or the virus in the back of your throat and render it ineffective. So, there’s some good research on that.
But zinc is also a nutrient that you can really overdo. You can get toxic levels of zinc. And how that toxicity manifests is usually vomiting. That’s your body’s way of saying, let’s get rid of this bad stuff. So, I know somebody who recently– one of my relatives who said, “Oh, I know zinc lozenges are good for a cold,” but she was overdoing it. She wasn’t paying attention to what the dosing schedule is. She was sucking on them all day like candy. And then three days later, she was really sick. So, yeah, a little bit is good but doesn’t mean a whole lot more is better.
Casey Weade: I have one more selfish question, and this seems to be a new trend, and that is something that I do take every day and that is NAD+. Do you have any thoughts on that?
Dr. Chris Rosenbloom: Well, it’s funny, I just recently heard a presentation about the NR, the niacin, the ribose one, I can’t remember the name of it, but from the inventor of this one particular substance, Dr. Charles Brenner, who’s out in Los Angeles. I think that’s really interesting area because the research shows that our levels of NAD decline as we get older. So, people are interested in looking at that.
For me, the one issue is we don’t really know what a healthy level of that is. We could do your baseline and you could show it improves, but we don’t know what that means. And there’s not any way to tell if you’re feeling better from it. There’s not any biological endpoint that we can measure to say this is going to prevent this disease or that disease. But I think the research is really interesting. It’s pretty expensive. So, it’s not for everybody. It’s pretty nontoxic. So, if you’re taking it, you want to try it, I think it’s good.
A lot of longevity doctors really know that. So, it’s fascinating. And I’m kind of following the research to see where it goes. They are doing a lot of research on it. Sometimes it’s really specific for different disease states. I know they’re doing some work in Parkinson’s disease and some of the neurological disorders. So, I think it’s one of those areas that we need to start paying attention to. And I’ve been following the science, but I’m not quite convinced that it’s for everybody yet.
Casey Weade: No, that’s great. I appreciate that. We had another question from Cindy asking about high-end vitamins. Cindy says, “Is it worth paying for high-end vitamins and supplements such as calcium or omega-3? Or do the vitamins and supplements that sell big-box stores work just as well?
Dr. Chris Rosenbloom: I think that they can work just as well. One of the things I like to look for is something called USP on the label, it stands for United States Pharmacopeia, which means that that vitamin has in it what it says it does. It doesn’t have any other contaminants and that it’s also going to dissolve and get into your system within the right amount of time. So, that’s a little seal of approval, if you will, for some vitamins.
But I’ll tell you, a lot of the big-box stores sell vitamins that are made by the big companies. They can sell them cheaper because they don’t pay for marketing and advertising. So, a lot of the vitamins that maybe say Nature Made makes, they have their own version that they sell at the Costco or the Sam’s Club. That’s the same thing. So, I think most of those are pretty good.
I would be more cautious of buying it over the Internet. If you’re getting vitamins that are coming from China and you just don’t know what you’re getting in terms of those supplements. So, I don’t think you need to pay a lot for them. But I also think you want to look for something that’s probably well sourced maybe within the US instead of overseas.
Casey Weade: Another question we had from another subscriber, Ryan, had to do with avoiding pharmaceuticals. Is it possible to use herbs and vitamins along with a proper diet to avoid pharmaceuticals? How do we attain this? Where’s the best information to acquire this lifestyle? And I’m right there. I have high cholesterol, I’ve had some high blood pressure, and have been trying to manage those things the best I can with supplements, nutrition. However, it’s been a challenge. I do not want to take a statin. Statins seem to be the only thing that have really worked. But I keep trying other things because I want to avoid pharmaceuticals. What do you say to this?
Dr. Chris Rosenbloom: Yeah, yeah, I get it. I understand. I think I wish more physicians would tell patients, “Let’s try lifestyle approach first before we put you on high blood pressure drugs, before we put you on statins.” Because there’s good research that shows, especially with blood pressure, that if you’re following a diet, there’s a plan called DASH, which is the dietary interventions to stop hypertension, if you’re following a plan like that, you can reduce your blood pressure as much as you can some high blood pressure meds.
And so, I applaud the reader or the viewer for asking that question because it can be done. However, so many people just say, “Oh, just give me the pill. It’s easier. I don’t want to change my diet. I don’t want to exercise. Just give me the pill.” But I think that for things like statins, they’ve been really good drugs, beneficial drugs. So, I always tell folks, try a dietary approach first, maybe for six months, and then talk to your doctor and ask him or her to remeasure your cholesterol in six months and see if that’s working for you. I know there’s some supplements like red yeast rice that can help lower cholesterol, although some of the ones that came from China actually had the statins in them. That’s why they were working so well.
So, I would try that first. And then if you have to go on a statin, you could start with the lowest possible dose. You can break that bill in half and take 5 milligrams instead of 10 or 15 or 20. It depends on what you agree with, with your physician and what your genetic risk is. There is a genetic component to heart disease.
I’ll give you two examples. One, my husband has terrible genes. He actually was in a study where he has the exact same genes as his father. My father-in-law had his first bypass at 55, 12 years later, another bypass. So, my husband is on cholesterol-lowering meds, but he does eat well and he exercises, but because of his genetic risk, he feels it’s worth it to try these statin drugs and take these drugs to help him stay healthy.
On the other hand, I have a brother-in-law, hope he’s not watching. He’s decided to go on a vegan diet and go off statins. He had a heart attack several years ago. He didn’t tell his doctor he was doing it. He just did it. And I said, “You really should at least talk to your doctor about this before you do it on your own.” Well, he was on a vegan diet for three months. He went back, his cholesterol jumped 60 points. So, he went back on the drug. But again, I told him, “Still follow the diet. You could probably take a lot less of the medication.” So, the diet and drugs can go hand-in-hand. So, I would give the lifestyle first. But then if it’s not working, then I think pharmaceuticals, they’ve been life-saving.
Casey Weade: Yeah, then life-saving, I guess it’s just that the risk of dementia and some of the concerns around that. But dementia or heart attack early, I guess those are kind of the options right now if we can’t go the natural route. Well, let’s talk a little bit about sleep. We know how important sleep is, shows up in your three S’s. We have a couple of questions specifically around sleep, and one comes from Karen. Karen asks about melatonin. Does melatonin really help you sleep better at night? Or is there another alternative to help fight your mind for a restful night’s sleep?
Dr. Chris Rosenbloom: Yeah, that’s a good question. I think that for a lot of people looking at that sleep hygiene is important. And you’ve probably heard that term before where you want to be in a quiet room or have some ambient noise like white noise machine or fan or something like that instead of– especially if you live in a city and you have traffic noise. Then, you also want to be in a cool room. So, keep the room as cool as you can. You’re going to sleep better when it’s cooler.
And then the other thing I see is the screen, that light from the screen, whether it’s your phone or your tablet, put that on that nightshade mode, or better yet, turn that off a half hour before you go to sleep. My husband, again, is one of those bad– he doesn’t sleep well, but he wakes up in the middle of the night and then he puts the screen in front to catch up on the news. What’s new? Nothing has changed since. You went to bed at 11. And then that gets him back in that wake cycle. So, those are some things I would always think about first.
The second, though, is melatonin can have some benefits. I would start with the lowest possible dose. It seems like melatonin can help you fall asleep, but it might not help you stay asleep. So, I mean, I think it’s worth trying small doses of that to see if that can be beneficial.
Casey Weade: Well, let’s jump over to diet and nutrition. So, when it comes to nutrition, how much does our nutrition need really change as we age? I mean, is it really shifting that much? Or is it the same when we’re 25 as it is when we’re 75? How much does that really shift when it comes to this 50-plus crowd?
Dr. Chris Rosenbloom: I think there are a couple of points to that. One is I mentioned earlier, our calorie needs are less. So, we really need to pay more attention to some of the empty calorie foods in our diet to not give us the extra calories because that’s going to help contribute to some weight gain. But then we still need those nutrient-rich foods or some specific nutrients that do increase as we age. One of them is vitamin D.
Another one is Vitamin B12. We don’t absorb it as well from foods as we did when we were younger. And so, here’s a case where people hate the word synthetic, but synthetic vitamin B12 in a supplement is much better absorbed than it is from a food source as we get older. So, that’s one nutrient that I look at, especially for people who’ve given up animal products. If you’re a vegan and you’re not eating meat, B12 is only found in animal-sourced foods.
So, if you are vegan, you definitely need to be having a B12 supplement to make up for that loss of B12. And B12 is really important for healthy blood cells. It’s important for DNA repair. So, that’s one nutrient people don’t think so much about. You don’t need to go get a shot of B12, but you need to get it in a supplement form.
But the other nutrient is protein. We need more protein as we get older, especially need to separate our protein out a little bit throughout the day. There’s something in, as we age, called anabolic resistance of muscle, and that means that as we get older, our muscles don’t take up the nutrients from protein as readily as they did when we were younger, so we need a little bit higher amount of protein throughout the day. We always suggest people get about 25 to 30 depending on their body size. Smaller people, maybe 25, larger people, 30 to 35 grams of protein three times a day, so breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
But what the typical American pattern is, is we backload all of our protein at dinner. We might not have any protein at breakfast or maybe 5 grams, and we might have a salad at lunch and maybe throw on some chickpeas and get a handful of protein, but then we backload it all at dinner and have fish or salmon or chicken or steak and get all the protein there. So, you’re better off trying to spread your protein throughout the day and that’s going to help stimulate the muscle protein synthesis that we need as we get older.
Casey Weade: Well, what if we’re fasting, I mean, intermittent fasting has become incredibly popular today. I know so many people who do intermittent fasting. You could argue that I do intermittent fasting just because I don’t eat for 12 hours, but that technically…
Dr. Chris Rosenbloom: That’s the type of fasting.
Casey Weade: Yes. Technically, intermittent fasting, but it’s not like some of the extreme cases that I’ve seen of, say, one meal a day. And how could we do intermittent fasting and still get the protein spread that you just laid out? And are you a fan of fasting? Are you concerned about this trend?
Dr. Chris Rosenbloom: I’m not a fan of it for older adults, particularly those that are active, because if your goal is to build muscle, you’ve got to do it by strength training and then you’ve got to feed the muscle with some protein. And so, if you’re fasting, you’re not going to be able to build muscle as well as you could if you were eating a more balanced approach. I think intermittent fasting, if people are going to do it, I think that time-restricted fasting, where okay, I’m not going to eat after 8 o’clock, and then I’ll fast until 8 o’clock in the morning and that’s a 12-hour fast. So, that’s fine. But I do get concerned when people say I can just eat one meal a day.
Another good example, I have another brother-in-law. I’m one of seven kids, so I’ve got tons of– I have 45 nieces and nephews. So, I have another brother-in-law who was only eating one meal a day, approaching 80, really active guy, doing senior Olympics, plays pickleball, all this stuff. He’s like, “I’m really tired.” Well, yes, you’re really tired. You’re not fueling yourself. It’s not just your age. You’ve got to fuel those activities. So, if you’ve got somebody who’s really active, I don’t think that intermittent fasting is a good idea for them.
The one type of fasting I’d say that I have experimented with and I think is useful for some, and for a reason, you might not think is the original fasting that people talked about, which was 500 calories a day, do that a couple of days a week and then eat normally. I think what that teaches you is portion sizes and portion control. When people were eating 500 calories, they’d say, “I can have that glass of wine with dinner, that’s going to take up a lot of my calories,” or yeah, I realize egg protein is really a good source of a low-calorie meal that I can have when I’m fasting. So, I think it helped to educate people about their portion sizes and the nutrient density or the nutrient richness of foods. So, if you’re going to try it, I’d say that time-restricted fasting might be better, but I’m just not a fan of it for older adults who are active to try to just eat one meal a day.
Casey Weade: Yeah, I know you said something about metabolism there. I don’t know if you said the word metabolism, but that’s where I went when you talked about needing the intake fewer calories as we age. And I’ve heard some things recently that maybe we have this whole metabolism thing incorrect, that our metabolism doesn’t actually decline as we age. Is that true? How does our metabolism change over time? And just kind of speak to that, if you would. I’m really curious.
Dr. Chris Rosenbloom: Yeah. There was a study a couple of years ago that talked about your metabolism doesn't change as much as we think it does but I think the main issue is it depends on how much muscle mass you have. Our muscle is one of our most metabolically active organs. So, when we hit 40, if we're not active, we start losing that muscle mass. So, as we lose muscle mass, our metabolism is going to slow or we're going to need less calories. So, people can lose about 10% to 15% of their muscle mass between the age of 40 and 80 if you're not doing anything to build that muscle up. And we talk about that as sarcopenia, literally, vanishing flesh. But there's another thing in there is like dynapenia, which is the lack of strength that people have. So, doing some of that weight training is really one way to curb that metabolism. Well, I think it's probably inevitable that as we get older, I mean, an 80-year-old is not going to be as metabolically active as a 20-year-old. So, I think that's why it's important to pay attention to what you're eating and the calorie intake as you age. But I think keeping our muscle mass is something that can really help rev up our metabolism.
Casey Weade: And my takeaway from that is just that, right? Your metabolism isn't changing from the age of 30 to 50. What's changing is your muscle mass as that muscle mass is decreasing because you're not working hard to maintain it. Now, your metabolism is slowing, right? So, it's all a factor of muscle mass, which is what they're starting to find, correct me if I'm wrong, that is one of the number one factors of longevity is muscle mass as we age.
Dr. Chris Rosenbloom: Yeah, definitely. The strong live long is what we say.
Casey Weade: Oh, that's good. I like that.
Dr. Chris Rosenbloom: You know, the other thing is that I see this a lot with older women, they’re still body conscious, they all want to lose weight, and they go on some of these fad diets. But not only is that affecting your fat mass or your muscle mass but it also can affect your bones. And we don't want to do anything to make our bones weaker as we grow older. And so, that's another reason I really get concerned about these people that are doing fast for a long period of time. Your bones need nutrients to be delivered, and if you're not getting the nutrients, your bones will actually be robbed of things like calcium and other nutrients in there. And it's hard to put it back in that little bottle of bone once you lose it. So, I really get concerned when people go on these extreme diets, especially older women, because I still see that with women. I talked to a woman the other day who's 80 years old, very active, just doing everything right. But she's still so concerned about losing 5 pounds that she's been trying to lose since she was 40. I finally said, "Give it up. You know, just be the healthiest you can be and stop obsessing over wanting to lose 5 pounds. For what benefit is that going to be for you now at 80?”
Casey Weade: Yes. So, we know we need food. All right. So, if we know we need food, I want to know if you had to pick one food that we should eat every day, what would that one food be? And take this on there, if you will. What's one food we should avoid that maybe we don't think of as something we should avoid?
Dr. Chris Rosenbloom: That's a hard question because I really don't like the superfood approach. I think that all foods have some value to them. Hmm. I’ll think about that. I think the one food we could avoid is anything that's a sugar-sweetened beverage. We don't need those. And whether it's a soft drink or whether it's some of these teas or some of the fancy coffees, we don't really need those and those can contribute a lot of extra calories and sugar. So, those are one thing I'd say you definitely could take off the table. In terms of the one food, okay, I'm going to go crazy here. I'm going to say pizza but depends on the toppings.
Casey Weade: To avoid?
Dr. Chris Rosenbloom: No, no. To put on your diet every day.
Casey Weade: That we can put on our diet.
Dr. Chris Rosenbloom: Yeah.
Casey Weade: Okay, now we're talking.
Dr. Chris Rosenbloom: It depends on how you bake it.
Casey Weade: You’re going to take away my favorite food.
Dr. Chris Rosenbloom: That's right. It depends on how you make it. So, I'd say make your own pizza with the whole grain crust and make your own tomato sauce or put fresh tomatoes on it. You know, cheese is going to give you that dairy component with calcium and then lots of veggie toppings. So, you're hitting a lot of food groups by making a healthy pizza.
Casey Weade: You just made so many people so happy. I thought for sure it was going to be avocados.
Dr. Chris Rosenbloom: No, avocados are great but, you know.
Casey Weade: Let's talk a little bit about exercise and fitness before we close with some general questions. You have your ABCs of exercise and fitness. Could you walk us through those ABCs and just what types of exercises or routines we should be incorporating as we age?
Dr. Chris Rosenbloom: Yeah. I mean, when people talk about exercise, there are those three components. First, I mean, there's the endurance part. So, before we get to the ABCs, we all know that we should get our heart rate up to help our heart and lungs work better. We all know we should do the strength training to keep that muscle mass, and not only the muscle mass but the muscle strength. I think that's a really important part. And then there's that last portion you mentioned, the ABCs, and that stands for agility, balance, and coordination. And the reason that we want to work on that is we want to prevent falls. Falls is the number one problem for older adults, breaking bones, breaking hips, even spraining an ankle. It could just take you out of circulation for a while and it's harder to recover. So, we want to practice those things. So, the exercises that are beneficial are things like yoga where you're really helping with flexibility, and that can help with balance. Tai Chi, although I've never done Tai Chi. I did it once. I didn't like it but I had some friends who were really into Tai Chi. So, that's another one that can help with balance and coordination. And then any kind of movement that is agility.
You know, when we were kids, we played outside and we ran around and moves that laterally and back and forth. We don't tend to do that as much anymore. So, I don't think too many people are going to go out and play basketball pickup games but pickleball is great for that. And that is just the number one sport in America right now. The club that my husband plays golf and they just converted all the tennis courts to pickleball courts. So, I think those are the kinds of activities that can keep those ABCs going. One of the things that I do is I go to the Y almost every day, but I do dance aerobics. I am a terrible dancer but I'm with about 20 other women who are also not good dancers except the instructor. But it works on that ability and balance and coordination and your brain accepted to the right hand and the left hand and the right foot, all that stuff. So, I think those kinds of activities, they can be fun, but it can also help you work on agility, balance, and coordination.
Casey Weade: So, we have agility, balance, coordination. You say Tai chi, yoga. I kind of think of that as flexibility of stretching. And of course, there's some balance in there as well. Then you have agility or cardio training which could be combined. So, cardio and agility, we have flexibility at Tai Chi, yoga, and then we have strength training. So, say let's call it stretching, cardio, and strength training. In what ratio, how much time should we be spending in these different categories? What kind of ratio should we try to keep a balance? And we need to do all three every day. How do we spread them out throughout a week?
Dr. Chris Rosenbloom: Yeah. Well, the physical activity guidelines for Americans say that we should be getting about 150 minutes of aerobic exercise every week. That's about 30 minutes a day. So, 30 minutes a day where you get in your heart up. As far as strength training goes, probably the minimum is two times a week. And I tell people that you don't have to go to the gym, you don't have to pump iron. You can use your own bodyweight, push-ups, pull-ups, planks, dips on the stairs, squats, lunges, all those things can give you strength without having to go to a gym. So, you can do things like that using your body weight and you probably do that twice a week. As far as the agility and balance and coordination, there's no set time in the dietary guidelines recommendations for that. But I'd say try to work on something like that every day. And it could be as simple as standing on one foot when you brush your teeth, little things like that that you can incorporate into your day every day.
There's also a lot of interesting research on this what we are calling exercise snacks. So, just get up and do something. Set your little fitness watch to tell you to move and get up and run up down the stairs in your home as fast as you can twice a day, little things to help keep you moving. One thing we started to see, and I'm sure we're all guilty of this, they're starting to call it the active couch potato. You know, you go to the gym and you exercise for an hour in the morning, and then the rest of the day you sit in front of your computer or in front of your desk or in front of TV. So, you're active, but you're only active for an hour a day. And then you sit the rest of the day or asleep. So, we want to be able to break that up and have some of those activities throughout the day. I keep little exercise THERABANDs around doorknobs in my house. I know it's not attractive. I put them away when people come over, but it gives me that visual reminder, “Oh, I’m going to do some shoulder exercises with that THERABAND now. I'm going to do some tricep dips. I'm going to do something with that.” Every time my little watch every hour says, “Come on, it's time to move. You've been sitting too long.” So, while there's no set time for those ABCs, I think try to work on them every day is beneficial.
Casey Weade: Yeah. It can be a little overwhelming, right? When you go, well, you need to do cardio 30 minutes a day. You need to do stretching or movement daily. Then you need to do strength training twice a week. But it doesn't have to be that overwhelming. We can start with some of these little simple things that are just kind of laying…
Dr. Chris Rosenbloom: Right. Just move more.
Casey Weade: …around the house.
Dr. Chris Rosenbloom: Yeah, just move more. Window washing, you know, that counts as activity. Like I said, gardening it's that time of year where people are out tending their lawns and pulling weeds and planting flowers. You know, gardening is another activity that can be very beneficial. So, it doesn't have to be getting in the car and driving to the gym.
Casey Weade: All right. A couple of wrap questions here for you. Number one is what was something you once believed to be true that now you do not?
Dr. Chris Rosenbloom: Oh, that's easy, because I was a cardiac rehab dietician in the late 70s when we were on the low-fat bandwagon. So, we would tell people not to eat fat. Everything was low fat. So, instead, what they did is that they loaded up their calories with sugar. And I think any time that's another key principle, I think, in nutrition is any time we take something out of our diet, we have to think, what are we substituting? Could it be worse? And I think we found out that it was because people were loading up on low-fat cookies that were high in sugar. So, now we know that fat is not the enemy. You know, there are some fats that are healthier than others, but we don't advocate low-fat diets anymore. You mentioned the avocado. A great example. You know, we would tell people, "Don't eat avocados, don't eat nuts, don't eat peanuts. They're high in fat.” And now we know the type of fat that's in those foods are very healthy for us. So, that would be the big one for me.
Casey Weade: Right. Now, this is one of my favorite questions. You know, you have some daily practices, some things you do every day. What is your strangest daily practice?
Dr. Chris Rosenbloom: Wow. My strangest daily practice. Two hard questions, Casey. I don't know if I have a strangest. I mean, because if it's mine, I don't think it's strange.
Casey Weade: Yes.
Dr. Chris Rosenbloom: Maybe I talk to my dog too much. I don't know. I think he understands me. He knows lots of words.
Casey Weade: You have a deep and meaningful relationship. I saw it before we started.
Dr. Chris Rosenbloom: Yeah. That’s not as deep and meaningful.
Casey Weade: Right. Well, let's wrap up with this question. You're on the Retire with Purpose Podcast, so I have to ask you. What does retire with purpose mean to you?
Dr. Chris Rosenbloom: It means that you have financial security. It means that you have enough resources to afford good health care because that is important. As we get older, we can't just do everything on our own. And then it means being as functionally fit as I can be to do the things that I love to do. And then continue to maintain good relationships with people.
Casey Weade: That's almost an acronym that we have there. Again, I can tell you think in acronyms. You'd probably get to one here if I gave you a chance. So, thank you so much for joining us. Before you take off, I want to make sure that the fans are aware of what we're partnering up today. We're partnering up to give away your book, Food and Fitness After 50: Eat Well, Move Well, Be Well. If that book would be of interest to you, we would love to give it away to you. All you have to do is this: Subscribe to the podcast, give us a rating, and write us a review, and then just shoot us a text. So, you will text us the word, BOOK, to 866-482-9559 and then we will send you a link where you can submit your iTunes username and we can verify that and get you your free book, Food and Fitness after 50, so you can eat well, move well, and be well. Chris, thank you so much for joining us. I look forward to seeing you in the future.
Dr. Chris Rosenbloom: All right. Thanks, Casey. It was a pleasure.