Do Protein Powders Help Fight Against Aging?

New research analyzed 78 studies to determine if protein powders help maintain strength, muscle, and mobility after the age of 40.

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Today’s Health Upgrade: Living Longer

  • Why airplane alcohol knocks you out

  • Overrated or underrated?

  • On our radar

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Why Airplane Alcohol Knocks You Out

You might enjoy a few drinks when you take a flight. But that alcohol doesn’t hit like it does at sea level.

New research found that the alcohol you enjoy while flying has a more dramatic impact on your blood oxygen, heart rate, and sleep quality. 

The study consisted of two groups, and one did the honor of consuming alcohol in the name of science. Half of the participants played sober, and the other half had the equivalent of two drinks of beer or wine. To compare regular rest to flying at 30,000 feet, some participants spent the night in a sleep chamber while others slept in an altitude chamber.

Flying — even without the booze — causes a decrease in blood oxygen and heart rate. But things bottom out when you mix alcohol and super high altitudes — with blood oxygen dropping to 85 percent (healthy is 95 percent and above) and heart rate jumping by nearly 20 beats per minute. 

If you feel extra sluggish, low energy, or suffer from poor sleep after your flight, the in-air drinks are likely the culprits. 

Looking at the bigger picture, if you’re healthy, the drinks should be a short-term setback and have little impact on your overall health, and you’ll bounce back. However, if you have heart issues or are at higher risk, it’s something to keep in mind because they could put undue stress on your body.

Overrated or Underrated: Protein Powders

Trying to figure out which protein powder is worth your money? A recent study sheds light on the best options for muscle gain, especially for older adults hitting the weights.

New research suggests that whey, milk, and soy protein might be a little more effective at helping you build muscle and strength as you age.

The researchers examined 78 clinical trials involving people over 40 years old. Taking protein — even without resistance training— helped improve muscle and mobility. However, the real benefits were seen when combining protein and resistance training. 

The scientists analyzed six types of protein (whey, milk, soy, casein, peanut, and meat) across more than 5,000 participants. The most significant limitation is that the participants came from different environments (including community dwellings and hospitals) and followed different workout programs. 

Prior research has suggested that total protein per day is more important than protein source or timing. That’s true, but starting around age 40, most people begin to experience a gradual and continuous loss of muscle mass, which can lead to problems with mobility and quality of life in older age. That’s partially because your protein needs shift as you age, and you need more protein and essential amino acids. 

So, if you’re getting enough protein, it’s possible that prioritizing specific proteins could lead to better outcomes. And if you’re looking for the best-performing protein, whey protein was most effective at increasing muscle, lower body strength, and walking speed. We recommend Momentous as our go-to source of whey protein. Remember, no matter what protein you select, look for one third-party tested by NSF Certified for Sport or Informed Sport.

The verdict: They still aren’t magic, but protein powders are underrated as a quality source of protein that is convenient, cost-effective, and repeatedly performs well in research. 

On Our Radar: A New Way To Lower Cholesterol?

High cholesterol is associated with many life-threatening conditions, such as heart attack and stroke. A recent study suggests you might want to add more seeds to your diet if you’re looking for ways to reduce your risk. 

Research suggests that black seed (also known as black cumin) can significantly decrease total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. 

Scientists reviewed 34 randomized controlled trials on more than 2,000 men and women and found a consistently strong effect with supplementation. While more studies are needed to determine why, there are several potential ways that black seed helps keep cholesterol low. It appears that black seed might prevent LDL from being absorbed in the small intestine, and it can increase LDL receptors, meaning it helps your body remove LDL from your blood. 

This isn’t the first time that black seed has been highlighted as a potential cholesterol fighter. A previous meta-analysis came to a similar conclusion, although it wasn’t clear whether powder or black seed oil was more effective. The most significant limitation of the current study was a lack of clarity on the effective dose. The studies examined beneficial doses from 100 mg to 8,000 mg per day but — unfortunately — couldn’t pinpoint what amount works best. 

If you’re looking for other methods, research suggests lowering your body fat, exercising, eating more fiber and plants, and cutting out smoking and alcohol are all effective cholesterol-lowering behaviors.

Publisher: Arnold Schwarzenegger

Editors-in-chief: Adam Bornstein and Daniel Ketchell