by Dr Minkoff May 14, 2022 5 min read
The following is adapted from The Search for the Perfect Protein, chapter 8 by Dr Minkoff.
It’s not unexpected that protein problems affect the elderly, and we address this at my clinic, LifeWorks Wellness Center, through an antiaging practice. Many older people come to us and say, “My memory isn’t great, and I don’t have energy like I used to. Can you help me?” People don’t want to feel or “act” old, and amino acid supplementation can help.
Part of the breakdown that is experienced in old age is often related to 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. Breakfast might be a bowl of Corn Flakes with a cup of coffee and that meal doesn’t provide strength or fuel for the body. This lack of nutrition leads to the body becoming weak, and the person becomes symptomatic—they don’t function as well as they used to. Part of this problem can be attributed to low amino acid levels, which leads to low levels of hormones, neurotransmitters, bone loss, and loss of muscle strength.
The protein synthesis with PerfectAmino is fast, and there can be an immediate systematic difference. For example, we’ve done work with elderly people who had lost strength and couldn’t get up from a chair without difficulty. We gave them ten grams of PerfectAmino, waited about forty-five minutes, and they were able to stand more easily.
The incidences of premature Alzheimer’s are becoming more frequent, and unfortunately, people are deteriorating to the point of being non-functional.
Recently, I saw a sixty-nine-year-old patient who flew F-16 fighter missions in Vietnam. After the war, he was a pilot for Delta Airlines for twenty-five years and supervised pilot training for seven years after he retired. His wife brought him in to the clinic, frustrated and concerned. His physical appearance was good; trim and healthy. He was a vibrant, highly-capable man, but for some reason his memory and cognitive ability had vastly deteriorated. When I talked to him, he understood me for the most part, but when I asked him to talk, he couldn’t find any words. He had been to many neurologists—his brain MRI and all related tests were normal, so the doctors diagnosed him with premature Alzheimer’s.
I asked him to get up, walk over to a table, and sit down. He followed my instructions, but when I asked, “How are you feeling?” He couldn’t respond. I could tell he was looking for words—he just couldn’t find them. Through physical exam and lab testing, I discovered many issues with his health—he had significant nutritional deficiencies. He had low blood amino acids, vitamin D, magnesium, and zinc; bad gut bacteria and parasites; and low levels of the neurotransmitters dopamine, GABA, and serotonin. He also tested positive for Lyme disease. We took one look at all of these abnormalities, and we could see why the most important organ in his body—his brain—was not functioning well. If the brain is not receiving adequate nutrition, it just won’t work, because the brain has high energy requirements, using about 20 percent of all the energy in the body. Since essential amino acids are the building blocks of all enzymes and neurotransmitters, they must be in abundant supply at all times to maintain brain health. These cases are very tragic, but with proper nutritional support, including essential amino acids, the elderly can improve their brain function for a better quality of life.
In another case related to what was thought to be Alzheimer’s, a four-star World War II general brought his ninety-three-year-old wife to see me. They had been married for seventy-two years, but she no longer recognized him; she wouldn’t let him sleep in the same bed with her. She had been to several neurologists, yet none of them had been able to help.
Through testing we discovered that she was very protein malnourished, lead-toxic, and saddled with other issues. PerfectAmino was 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 one hundred, 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 PerfectAmino played a big role in repairing her brain.
The success of her treatment sparked curiosity and motivation in her ninety-two-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 using PerfectAmino; after three months, he scored a documented two-line improvement on the eye chart. He could see the golf ball again and went out to beat his seventy-two-year-old son in a game!
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 three hundred 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.
The elderly have also spent a lifetime living with environmental toxins, which is another cause of health issues and systematic breakdown. Their intestinal membranes are thin, and there is a delayed turnover of the inner-lining cells this makes 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 are required to 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 never miss a dose. I want to be doing Ironman races well into my eighties and beyond!
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