Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
5 Jun

The “Inevitabilities” of Aging: How Inevitable Are They?

Flip It OverHow many times have you heard some old timer attribute the dysfunction of a body part or physiological attribute to “gettin’ old”? Or how about that time you tweaked your back and everyone was quick to tell you to get used to it because it’s never going to get any better? “It’s all downhill after 30!” The funny thing is that this is somehow supposed to make you feel better about your prospects. Some people, I guess, prefer to have control over their health wrested out of their hands and distributed to the fates. Some people like the idea of letting “nature take its course.” At least that way nothing that goes wrong is your fault, because you never had a chance anyway. You were always destined to get all soft and flabby, lose your hearing, get brittle bones, and be unable to go to the toilet by yourself. Right?

Wrong. Age isn’t “just” a number, and we can’t maintain Dorian Gray-esque vigor all through life, but that doesn’t mean we’re destined to be frail, brittle things relegated to chairs and walkers and homes and doctor’s offices.

Today, let’s take a look at some common “inevitabilities” of aging and why they may not be so inevitable after all.

Loss of Testosterone

Most men see the age-related decline in testosterone as inevitable, and who can blame them? Testosterone levels do generally decline with age. Younger guys generally do pack on muscle faster and easier than older guys. The association is strong, constant, and almost unwavering. But it’s not inevitable. The passage of time, the changing of seasons, the number of candles on your gluten-free birthday cake do not determine your production of testosterone. Rather, what you do, what you eat, how you exercise, how much body fat you carry, and how much stress you deal with all affect your testosterone levels.

A generational drop in testosterone has been observed. Twenty years go, men of all ages had higher testosterone levels than their counterparts today, meaning an average 50 year old guy in 1993 had higher testosterone than an average 50 year old guy in 2013. Something other than aging is lowering testosterone across the board. This shows that T production is subject to other factors, not just aging.

A recent study found that the “age-related” declinations in testosterone were modified by body weight changes and other lifestyle factors. As body weight went up, T went down. As body weight went down, T went up. As a side note, smoking cessation was associated with a lowering of testosterone, but I wouldn’t recommend picking up the habit as a way to curb T decline. Another study found that metabolic syndrome exacerbates testosterone deficiency.

As long as they maintained “excellent or very good health,” men over the age of forty experienced no declines in testosterone in a recent study. Those who did experience declines appeared to do so because of other “disorders that accumulate during aging, including obesity and heart disease.” Age itself had no independent effect.

Cortisol, the stress hormone which opposes testosterone, tends to increase with age. Higher cortisol, lower testosterone. Controlling your stress may not ensure high testosterone, but at least you’ll be taking care of one potential factor.

What about women? Women make and use testosterone, too, but their relationship with the hormone isn’t the same as men’s. As I mentioned earlier, men can stave off age-related testosterone deficiency by staying healthy and avoiding metabolic syndrome. In women, obesity actually increases circulating testosterone levels. This is because women make testosterone in body fat, in addition to the ovaries and adrenal glands. But before you go and gain a bunch of testosterone-boosting body fat, you should realize that women are extremely sensitive to testosterone’s effects. Too little testosterone is bad and associated with a lagging libido, lower lean mass, heart disease, and poor bone density, but too much testosterone is associated with type 2 diabetes, PCOS, and breast cancer (although this breast cancer connection may be explained by the conversion of excess testosterone into estradiol, and other evidence suggests that testosterone may even be protective against breast cancer).

So, as women age, they’re not so much concerned with “increasing testosterone.” They’re trying to keep their production in the sweet spot that maintains libido, bone, and muscle health without venturing into excess. But I strongly suspect that staying healthy, avoiding metabolic syndrome, and controlling stress will help women just as much as men.

Creaky Joints

Back when I was running, eating, and training like a madman, I had fairly bad arthritis. But not in my knee, or my hips, or my ankles. I had arthritis of the fingers, arthritis so severe that I had trouble holding a pen at times. I figured it was just part of getting old (like everyone told me) and tried to make the best of it. Maybe I’d even be one of those guys that can predict the weather based on the pain level in his joints. When I went grain-free, however, the arthritis evaporated. It just stopped. Now, although there’s not a lot of research into diet and arthritis, there is some strong evidence that rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease, can be exacerbated by dietary lectins from grains and legumes. The conventional wisdom is that osteoarthritis is purely “wear and tear” arthritis, separate from rheumatoid arthritis, independent of dietary and inflammatory factors, and pretty much inevitable if you live long enough, but (obviously) I disagree.

Other than dietary factors, simple, chronic inactivity is the major causative factor in the development of stiff, creaky joints. There are no studies on the subject that I know of, but we all know it to be true. Just ask yourself: how do you feel after a day of sitting on your butt and being sedentary? Stiff, tight, and altogether immobile. Now, imagine an entire lifetime of that, and you get the oldster who can’t tie his own shoes or get up off the toilet.

Loss of Lean Mass

True, people tend to lose muscle mass as they age, but that’s primarily because they tend to stop exercising – if they ever did in the first place. Some muscle loss just happens, but not all, or even most of it. We can and should maintain lean mass as we age. Grandma isn’t likely to get ripped, but many studies show that seniors can still gain lean mass through resistance training:

Even immediately after hip surgery, the elderly can utilize resistance training to put on lean mass.

In elderly women, resistance training induces hypertrophy and lowers inflammation.

Stroke survivors (aged 50-76) were able to enjoy significant hypertrophy with strength training.

Even in subjects older than 80, strength training seems to counter the effects of sarcopenia, or muscle wasting.

Heartening, eh? Just be wary of trying to do too much; one study of older subjects showed that strength training alone was more effective at inducing hypertrophy than a combination of strength and endurance training.

Another cause of muscle wasting in the elderly is low testosterone, which we’ve already covered above. Take steps to mitigate that and resistance training will be even more effective.

Brittle Bones

It’s a terrible thing, to slip and fall in the shower, or while walking through the neighborhood, and end up with a broken hip or wrist for your trouble. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. It shouldn’t be that way, just because you gained a few years.

Nutritional factors certainly play a role:

Vitamin D, which we can get from sun, food, or supplements, is crucial for maintaining bone mineral density. Without it, we’re unable to utilize calcium.

Vitamin K2 is also important and has been shown to improve bone mineral density in older folks with osteoporosis. Without it, we’re unable to put calcium where it belongs (in bones).

Calcium intake, particularly from food (and dairy if you tolerate it), helps determine bone health. We sometimes forget about the raw building blocks in favor of the co-factors (perhaps because conventional wisdom has done the opposite), but we shouldn’t. It matters, too.

Though they get less attention than the previous three, other nutrients, like potassium and magnesium (to name a couple) are also required for good, strong bones.

But nutrition is useless without activity – physical stimulation of the musculoskeletal system. In order for exercise to improve bone mineral density, it must satisfy several requirements. It should be dynamic, not static. It needs to challenge you. You need to progress in weight, intensity, and duration. It should be “relatively brief but intermittent.” No long drawn out sessions that do nothing but overwork and overtrain you. Keep it short and intense. Also, the exercise should place an unusual loading pattern on the bones. That could be different movements, or increased resistance, as long as you’re introducing something “new” to the body. Finally, for exercise to improve bone mineral density it must be supported by sufficient nutrition, especially calcium and vitamin D.

Hearing Loss

Everyone’s got a grandpa whose favorite word is “Huh?” and everyone “knows” that your hearing goes the older you get. But why? Is it a feature inherent to aging? While there’s indeed something called presbycusis, which describes the cumulative effect of aging on hearing, it’s difficult to disentangle true presbycusis from all the other factors that can also affect our hearing. First, of course, is our exposure to noise, either repeated (working in a metal shop) or traumatic (witnessing a massive explosion). The more noise we hear, and the louder it is, the faster our hearing goes, all else being equal. Consider the classic study of the Mabaan people of the Sudan. The Mabaan were completely isolated from industrialization, and without firearms, cars, factories, or any other manmade sources of loud noises, the hearing of their elderly was just as sharp as the hearing of Westernized young adults. It hadn’t degraded at all over the years, showing that noise exposure, rather than aging, is the main arbiter of hearing ability.

At the heart of noise-induced hearing loss appears to be oxidative stress. Upon a loud enough noise, the overstimulated hair cells within the ear generate reactive oxygen species, which damage the cells and eventually impair hearing. Studies have shown that boosting endogenous antioxidant (glutathione) status following noise exposure can reduce hearing loss. Preliminary evidence suggests that dietary precursors to glutathione (NAC) can also reduce hearing loss. It’s likely that eating a diet rich in polyphenols, flavonoids, and other antioxidant compounds could have similar preventive effects. This might be our best bet, short of escaping civilization and avoiding all loud noises.

As people age, their lifestyles suffer. They work more and longer hours. They sleep less. They accumulate more stress, and do more stress-eating. They stop moving as much, particularly if their new adult jobs force them to sit for eight hours a day. They live more poorly, and, in turn, suffer many of the health maladies we regard as “part of getting old.” I’m not suggesting that aging has zero effect on our physiological health. If nothing else, it makes us more vulnerable to our poor lifestyles and gives us more time to accumulate further damage (loud noises, stress-causing responsibilities, etc). I’m just saying that we give it a lot more power that it deserves. By doing that, we cede control over our own health to some abstract function of space-time. If aging is gonna get ya, it’s gonna get ya. Let’s do our best to hold it off at the pass, shall we?

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Good news all round then :)

    Onge wrote on June 5th, 2013
  2. Primal living hasn’t erased my wrinkles, eliminated my grey hair or enabled me to read fine print without cheater glasses BUT my energy levels, cognition and zest for life have dramatically improved.
    Primal living is the fountain of youth
    Looking 61 but feeling 40 again,

    Kara wrote on June 5th, 2013
    • About that gray hair–eat more beef liver to get more catalase into your system. Catalase is what prevents gray hair. Miss Clairol be damned!

      I wish I’d known this back when I was in my 30’s, when the gray hair was just getting started.

      Wenchypoo wrote on June 5th, 2013
      • If it takes consuming liver to prevent gray hair, then I will just be gray.

        Carla wrote on June 5th, 2013
        • Hahahaha yes me too

          Danielle Thalman wrote on June 5th, 2013
        • Try some rose veal liver. It is extremely tender and does not have that overly intense metallic tang of beef or lamb liver. If you soak the livers in milk overnight and then rinse them, this will draw even more of that intensity out. Then pan fry like a soft, ultra-nutritious steak. If that’s still too much, bang it in a stew with some other cuts to ‘dilute’ it a bit. Learn to love liver and live longer!

          Barnaby Nichols wrote on June 5th, 2013
        • Liverwurst FTW!

          JRM wrote on June 8th, 2013
      • How about other liver, like chicken liver? Does that work as well as beef liver?

        Diane wrote on June 5th, 2013
        • Chicken liver make you into a blonde while lamb’s liver makes you a brunette.

          Garde wrote on June 5th, 2013
      • Garde, Wow! who knew? Now if I could just figure out which liver to counteract having my Dad’s poker-straight hair (his was thick, lots of body) with my Mom’s very, very fine hair (hers was naturally wavy; alas, mine is poker-straight and way, way fine!)

        Yes, I get there are lots of nutritional things that can impact our looks. Seems to me the reason to eat liver is internal rather than external.

        I could be wrong; I’ve been wrong before

        Mary Anne wrote on June 5th, 2013
        • Liver is a bit of an aquired taste, but as with many foods i think the trick is in how you prepare it. I enjoy liver when i cut it up in small pieces and sorta marinate it for a bit. Olive oil, salt and pepper, turmeric, ginger and curry powder and some fresh sage. Leave it for a bit then bake the lot in a pan. Not too long so it doesn’t get chewy but long enough as to make the weird pink texture go away.
          It’s easier to cook cut up in small pieces i find. I bought a big sheep’s liver the other day, they didn’t do half ones, and i’ve been having small portions as a snack in the afternoon for the last three days.

          Sharon wrote on June 6th, 2013
    • I’ve had horrible eye sight since age of 10. it’s been a slow decline year after year.

      However, this year, after 2 years of eating primally, is the first time in my life that my eyesight improved. i would have been thrilled if it just plateaued and not get a stronger prescription but to have my prescription improve, even incrementally, was beyond my imagination.

      Proof here:

      Sophia wrote on June 7th, 2013
      • That is awesome. One more reason to really try and clean up food choices.

        Ez wrote on June 8th, 2013
    • Same with me! I’m 62, and getting younger…

      Raynote wrote on June 9th, 2013
  3. You don’t talk about fertility here. Having a vast and varied experience, it is my opinion that when many doctors talking about aging ovaries, what they really mean (and often don’t recognize) is that those ovaries are being affected more by poor health more than aging. It is clear from earlier generations that women are able to reproduce at much later ages than we commonly accept in the 21st century.

    Alison Golden wrote on June 5th, 2013
    • “more by poor health than aging*

      Alison Golden wrote on June 5th, 2013
    • I was able to conceive much faster at 39 on a Primal diet than at 25 on SAD/vegetarian. (1 cycle verus 5 or 6) I joked with my husband that after this baby was born, I should probably consider birth control if I was merely walking past a men’s locker room.

      Amy wrote on June 5th, 2013
      • Wow, I am so happy to hear about your success. I can only help that I have the same, I have been a veggie since age 13 and I am now 39 as well. I really want to be super healthy before I try to conceive this is just the encouragement I need to take the step to primal!

        tay wrote on June 5th, 2013
        • I’m 40 and pregnant (we weren’t even trying – actually trying NOT to by tracking ovulation) and I think it’s because my husband and I are both eating primal. It’s like we’re aging in reverse! I often get confused as my 14 year old’s sister lately. I’m sure once I start showing that might change though. :)

          Anne wrote on June 10th, 2013
      • Hmm scary! When I was in my 20s and eating SAD I was able to conceive right away (three times)… now I’m eating primal at 40 I’ll have to be super careful!!

        Fiona wrote on June 5th, 2013
    • This is very interesting…do you have links re past generations being able to conceive at much later ages than we are now? Thanks!

      Sophia wrote on June 7th, 2013
  4. to the brittle bones: This story (while it was about recovery from an injury) sheds a lot of light on why lifting heavy things is important

    zack wrote on June 5th, 2013
  5. I knew listening to loud overbearing Conventional Wisdom could make you go deaf (and dumb)!

    Groktimus Primal wrote on June 5th, 2013
    • …and dead.

      Wenchypoo wrote on June 5th, 2013
    • Need a “Like” button here!

      Hilda wrote on June 5th, 2013
      • ditto

        JulieD wrote on June 5th, 2013
    • exactly.

      Mary Anne wrote on June 5th, 2013
  6. My mom was talking about one of my Dad’s friends. He’s around 70-ish and is healthy (by conventional standards). My mom said “he was blessed with good health”. ???!!! I laughed and said “so the rest of us are screwed then? Did you hear what you just said? We have to be BLESSED with good health now!!??” It used to be all downhill after 50. Then it was 40, now 30. I must be going in reverse, then. :)

    Heather wrote on June 5th, 2013
  7. Great article Mark. I too, prior to cleaning up my diet, attributed my problems to aging. Thanks for clearing up some other age related misconceptions I had.

    basil cronus wrote on June 5th, 2013
  8. I get so irritated with people who claim that every health issue they have is a result of getting older. Meanwhile, these same people eat a junkfood diet full of sweets and grain products, get little exercise, and often carry a spare tire around their waist. It doesn’t do any good to point out the error of their thinking because they’re convinced that’s “just the way it is.” Sometimes you can’t even lead the horse to water, much less make him drink.

    Shary wrote on June 5th, 2013
  9. Does caffeine produce Cortisol?

    Patrick Z wrote on June 5th, 2013
  10. There is a great (imo) book I read several years ago, before I found Mark’s book, titled “Younger Next Year” by Chris Crowley. Many of the ideas expressed there line up very well with Mark’s Primal recommendations: lift weights, and develop a strong social network, for examples.

    The authors also discuss some pretty interested things about our physiology on a cellular level which tie in very well with the science behind Primal living.

    Worth a read.

    David Pryor wrote on June 5th, 2013
    • Younger Next year is very much aligned with Mark’s thoughts on aging.

      Andrea wrote on June 5th, 2013
    • David, thanks for the book idea!

      Three years ago when I turned 45 I finally got tired of attributing any health complaint to “aging.” I made a point of deciding that I would feel younger at age 50 than I did on that 45th birthday. My focus changes at times to keep my interest up, but I find ways to improve mobility, diet, and general well being, and chip away without worrying about perfection.

      I still have nearly two years to go, but I suspect I will simply continue this indefinitely since it seems to be working well for me.

      Rodney wrote on June 5th, 2013
      • My Mom who is 72 told me she is starting to pee on herself because she is getting older. I told her to do Kegel exercises and there will be no need to wear diapers. She just shrugged it off. I think she’ll be perfectly happy in diapers. Makes me sad.

        trailrunner wrote on June 8th, 2013
      • Cool idea, Rodney! I too, am 45 and am going to adopt your idea! Love it.

        jenny wrote on June 2nd, 2014
  11. All I have to do is look at my mid-late 60s parents since they decided to hit it up Paleo style last year to know that age BS. They were just out to help us move this weekend and they left me exhausted – and I’m the one who hasn’t been eating well and moving enough lately. But a couple of years ago, they were in the same boat, and definitely feeling “old.”

    Andrea wrote on June 5th, 2013
  12. Wow what a fantastic article. I had no idea about the tribe in Sudan… very cool to read about.

    Alexander wrote on June 5th, 2013
  13. I just turned 60. Feel like 30. Act like I’m 13.
    Thanks to being primal/paleo for 7 years.

    Super Mike wrote on June 5th, 2013
    • +1. 57, feel like 28, but I do act older than 13 (maybe 25). Thanks Mark for all you do. Paleo is like Ponce De Leon finding the real waters of youth…

      Nocona wrote on June 5th, 2013
  14. I have a creaky right knee at 30, which just didn’t seem right to me, and my acupuncturist recommended eliminating nightshades (tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, and peppers) for a while and see if that made it any better. She was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in her mid-20s and thought the whole nightshade thing was hogwash until she tried it herself. She said she never even noticed that she was better until one day, not even thinking, she had potato salad and some tomatoes, and woke up the next morning with her arthritis acting up. So maybe if cutting out grains and legumes doesn’t fix it, eliminating nightshades could be the next step. I’ll admit, though, it isn’t easy.

    Deanna wrote on June 5th, 2013
    • A primal lifestyle resolved all of my health problems last year, except, like you, my right knee remained painful. By accident, I eliminated nightshades for two weeks (I keep a food diary so was able to go back and see what I did differently) and the pain was GONE. I did add nightshades back (mostly tomatoes and peppers) but in very small amounts and not every day, and 6 months later I am still pain free. I am doing full squats, lots of them, for the first time in my life. I’m 40 and getting younger by the month!

      Akimajuktuq wrote on June 5th, 2013
    • Ugh – don’t tell me that! I convinced my Mexican husband to start eating Paleo last year, and he has been wonderful about giving up grains – even the corn and rice that were a mainstay of his diet. I don’t think he could bear to give up peppers – but his issues with pain are more fibromyalgia/muscle related stuff. Joints seem to be okay. If and when he ever mentions joint pain, I’ll mention the nightshades. 😉
      (Not the first time I’ve heard that, though. And we are off potatoes…!)

      Kristin wrote on June 5th, 2013
      • According to Dr. Barry Sears in his book, “The Anti-Inflammation Zone”, a very good remedy for musculoskeletal pain is high-dose fish oil. In fact, Sears, a medical research scientist, claims that high-dose fish oil is incredibly beneficial for a number of ailments. The dosage for “screaming pain” (as he refers to it) is 7.5 grams of EPA/DHA (about one tablespoon) per day. Apparently it takes about a month to see relief.

        I am currently trying this for chronic inflammation that developed in a knee I injured last fall. I’ve only been doing the high dose fish oil for about 2 weeks now, so the jury is still out. If you decide to try this, opt for the liquid fish oil as opposed to gulping dozens of capsules every day. Carlson’s and Nordic Naturals are top-of-the-line brands. The oil is refined to eliminate contaminants and is flavored with lemon. It doesn’t taste fishy at all.

        Shary wrote on June 5th, 2013
        • One caveat regarding fish oil: It is a natural blood thinner and probably shouldn’t be taken in large amounts if one has a bleeding problem or is taking pharmaceuticals to thin the blood. Also, once pain relief is achieved and sustained for a 2-week period, the fish oil dosage can gradually be reduced.

          Shary wrote on June 5th, 2013
        • We do do fish oil, and he’s been eating more fish….. One thing that seems to be really helping is magnesium oil. I had him taking oral supplements a while back, with seemingly no effect, before I realized “Well duh – it doesn’t matter how much he takes if his gut is messed up – he won’t absorb it anyway!”. So we switched to oil. (That’s topical, of course). Much better. If you’re not using it for your own pain, we highly recommend it! :)

          Kristin wrote on June 5th, 2013
        • It is a blood thinner, but daily tolerated doses add up quick. In studies comparing Fish Oil to ibuprofen for long term back pain, FISH OIL WINS.
          As a Chiropractor, I request all my patients get on fish oil. Of course, only a few actually listen too me. :(

          Dr Jason wrote on June 5th, 2013
        • Is “fish oil” the same as cod liver oil? I know that cod is a fish, but are the 2 oils similar/same in properties? Or does the CLO have different properties than a more genericly-named fish oil?

          Diane wrote on June 7th, 2013
      • I was diagnosed with FM a few years ago. It got me started on my health journey (6 months before I found Primal Blueprint). My diet got way off track and I had a nasty flare up (they coincide with a Reactive Hypoglycemia flare up. Connected? I have no idea). I started taking amino acid supplements. 5-HTP, GABA, The 5-HTP (I found the info in a book called The Mood Cure; also in Addiction: The Hidden Epidemic – these supps are great for killing sugar cravings) is an alternative medicine that is used to treat FM (NOW Supplements are really good). I had more than 3 months of neck/shoulder stiffness, burning, stabbing pains before the flareup – I blamed it on my sleeping position. About 2 hours after my second dose on day 2 of 5-HTP my neck/shoulders just “released”. It happened within minutes, too. I felt this warmth through my neck and down my arms and it was a wonderful warmth – like blood was flowing again. Make sure to research so you can get the dose right. :)

        Heather wrote on June 7th, 2013
    • That’s why they call it the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP)–it eliminates nightshades, eggs, and other pro-inflammatory foods.

      Wenchypoo wrote on June 5th, 2013
      • Fish oil, and most other natural remedies for inflammation, work by the same mechanism as NSAIDs. So another caveat is don’t take fish oil or tart cherry juice, with NSAIDs. I researched this a few years back when I had frozen shoulder and concluded that there was not any advantage of fish oil over an NSAID in terms of long-term bad effects such as stomach bleeding, kidney disease, etc. There was not any evidence that fish oil helped with heart disease long-term, even though it does improve blood lipid profiles.

        Joan wrote on June 7th, 2013
  15. Nice to see more info about aging–many of us paying attention to the blueprint are older even than Mark! I like to showcase the exploits of the very old in my blog now and then. I think they show us the potential for all humans rather than just something exceptional.

    I’m banking on that, too, as I started my own homestead/farm from scratch at age 68 this year! Thanks for this one, Mark!

    Ellie Winslow wrote on June 5th, 2013
    • “Like” “Big thumbs up! “

      Diane wrote on June 5th, 2013
  16. I sure needed to hear this one today! The last few weeks have been hell on wheels b/c my monthly cycle was two weeks late. At my age (just nearly 47) all I can think of is approaching menopause since the other option is a surgical impossibility!

    I am so much better off since I began trying to live primally. I don’t hurt like I used to, my skin is better, my energy levels are so much higher and my sleep is better. But this past two weeks all that went away due to the hormone rollercoaster. Carrie’s new book can’t get here fast enough for me! I need more woman-specific info!

    This post is also a real wake up call for me as to just how much more I can do and need to do to help myself. Exercise is the huge gaping hole in my primal routine. Sigh. I have got to do something about that or pay the consequences.

    Rhonda the Red wrote on June 5th, 2013
    • I really feel for you – that was me 5 years ago at 42 years old. Every month I would go through the feeling “am I pregnant? or menopausal?”. Turns out I was menopausal. Not good to go through menopause at 42 – it made me feel like a dried up old prune..

      You have to be aware that the hormonal feeling may in the end make you feel like you are going crazy, and then add the absolute zero libido, hot flushes etc and you are feeling like a big, fat nothing…

      i would really encourage every 40 something women to read Suzanne Somers book “Ageless” to really understand what they can do to improve their hormonal health as they negotiate another change in life. It is only now that I have found a doctor to truely knows what he is talking about re bio-identical hormones that I feel like me again.

      I ACTUALLY initiated sex with my husband last night – I cannot tell you when the last time was that I did that. He was shocked – as it has been a huge issue in our relationship for so long. I just was too exhausted, dried up, and grumpy to even consider touching him.

      But what I am more happy with is that my hormone levels are protecting me against cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes and adrenal fatigue.

      So I would really recommend the book it if you are feeling a bit “off” – trust me, alot of women find menopause a breeze – but for me it was not…

      Tatler wrote on June 5th, 2013
  17. It was through ill health (ME/CFS) that I found Primal and this site. I have been grain free since December and definitely find some symptoms lessened. However I am still VERY restricted in how much I can physically do on a day to day basis. I have lost a load of muscle mass (and my weight has also dropped although I am within the healthy BMI range) and I feel I am now what can be called “skinny fat”.

    However I was advised that giving my muscles some “resistance” training would help halt the muscle decline and since making more of an effort in this way, I think that things have stopped sliding further. I have also tried a few simple Pilates exercises, and I make sure I get plenty of time outside by using a mobility scooter to exercise my dogs. (This is a huge help mentally as I can once again get out into real weather and feel the wind in my hair etc.)

    I can relate to some of the things you say about “aging” here – as some of the effects of my illness are similar. Yet being inventive, and finding ways within what is possible, can really help both mental and physical health going forward into an uncertain future.

    I think this is what I enjoy about the Primal approach. There is an optimism here and a willingness to make changes for good mental and physical health. And that applies to whatever state of health we find ourselves endowed with….

    Sally wrote on June 5th, 2013
  18. I would love to see more a definitive piece on maintaining/healing joints (ie ankle and knee care) on this site. I play a LOT of squash (highly encouraged -about the best workout you can imagine) and have noticed it taking a toll on my ankles and knees.

    Anders wrote on June 5th, 2013
    • Apart from the primal diet and supplements, I recommend checking out Pete Egoscue’s book ‘Pain Free’ and Kelly Starett’s book ‘Becoming a Supple Leopard’. I believe he also has a bunch of free videos online at

      Foggy dude wrote on June 5th, 2013
    • Nightshades were the issue for me. I unwittingly eliminated them last November (was Primal-grain free since August) and my pain went away. I have reintroduced them but only in small amounts and not every day. No joint pain still. (This coming from someone diagnosed as a child with a “cartilage disease”. Throughout my life there were times I could barely walk, and I almost underwent surgery-thank god I didn’t- and endured other treatments and meds. And all forms of arthritis “run in the family”. BS.) I have been trying to help other family members but they just can’t wrap their mind around the idea that food, even “healthy” food, can hurt us. If you haven’t tried it, maybe it’s worth a try?

      Akimajuktuq wrote on June 5th, 2013
    • Stinging nettle is wonderful for bone health. I started drinking nettle infusion for energy but noticed after a couple of weeks that my knee pain had disappeared completely. It’s bursting with minerals for good bone health.

      Sharon wrote on June 6th, 2013
  19. I once showed a picture of Mark to my dad. His response, “The guy’s probably on steroids.”

    There’s just no winning this one. 😀

    Foggy dude wrote on June 5th, 2013
    • I know it’s been said before, but what a shame – when we see someone who is literally the picture of health, we cynically attribute it to steroids. Or in the case of women – “surely she’s had work done”………!

      Kristin wrote on June 5th, 2013
      • Yeah, she’s had work done…in the Crossfit box, the HIIT floor, the indoor jungle gym, and in the kitchen.

        Wenchypoo wrote on June 5th, 2013
        • If women have work done, it seems like it’s focused on the face and the chest first.

          Women who have worked and taken care of themselves look beautiful — and if there’s no work done, somewhat small chested, usually. :)

          Amy wrote on June 5th, 2013
    • I agree. I sent ‘Caveman Dave’s” success story to my brother-in-law to help encourage him and he thought it was all fake. Couldn’t/wouldn’t believe the results. Oh well…

      Ara wrote on June 5th, 2013
  20. I have noticed much thicker facial hair since I went paleo 10 months ago. I was never able to sport sideburns, and the last haircut I had, I walked out with some Martin Van Buerens-the barber just did it and I didn’t even notice until I got home.

    I am 46, so I don’t think its a late bloomer kind of thing. Beard is much thicker too with no noticeable increase in nose or ear hair-ha.

    Alas, if only I saw some improvement up top, I could be sporting a head of lettuce like Mark. Bring on the Corvette and the gold chains.

    Jon wrote on June 5th, 2013
    • Hahaha “Martin Van Burens” that’s awesome. Someone’s gotta bring back lambchops, they’re sexy.

      Miryem wrote on June 5th, 2013
  21. Strontium is the latest “darling” of the supplement world for bone building qualities. I have looked it up and there is a mixed bag of information. What does Grok think about Strontium?

    Tielle wrote on June 5th, 2013
  22. I hang out with a lot of old men in their 60s and 70s. I never talk to them because they can’t hear anything I say. It’s very annoying. Just get a proper hearing aid already, ya know? They make them so invisible nowadays nobody notices.

    But even more annoying is I hang out with a lot of physically active old men. We go on trail maintenance trips. They carry in heavy tools and cut brush with loppers and hand saws and saw trees with cross-cut saws. But they all complain about the brain fog and the arthritis and the low-t and laugh it all off as aging. If they would just eat some real fat and stop eating so many “complex carbohydrates” (aka, healthywholegrains) and quit it with the chronic “moderate” cardio and get some proper strength training they could reverse a lot of this. I know this because it was starting to happen to me, too (well, not the low-t since I’m a lady). I totally identify with the finger arthritis. I also had foot and hip pain and was just generally feeling older, tireder, weaker, less mobile.

    Now I feel younger than I did when I was young, younger than my teens and 20s. I’m almost 50 and getting younger every day.

    Diane wrote on June 5th, 2013
    • re; the older men who cannot hear well. i would love a hearing aid. you sound so pompous! insurance does not cover them! they are costly. I have hearing loss and tinnitus and really would love one, but your attitude sucks! why not teach some of them somethings rather than just trash them for not knowing anything!

      terrence chaplin wrote on June 5th, 2013
  23. Honestly, after nearly 2 years on a GF/Primal/Paleo diet, I feel and look better than I did when I was in my 20s. And I’m approaching 40. I’ve adjusted my lifestyle to be one of steady, consistent movement. I found a job (that I love) where I can work from home, enjoy the freedom to take breaks (going outside or knocking out a quick workout), and use a standing desk. The effort you put into improving your life corresponds to how much you will enjoy your life.

    James wrote on June 5th, 2013
  24. Thank you for this. My parents have that helpless “it’s just gonna happen” mentality, and it’s so far from the truth.

    Primalsaber wrote on June 5th, 2013
  25. Reg hearing loss (presbycuosis), my predicament (90% in the left, some 60% in the rt at age 74) is certainly attributable in part to xs noise in earlier yrs. As a rly. mech engineer in the glory days of steam, it used to be the macho thing to stand by without flinching while a 5 ton hammer went banging away on a chunk of steel, and the less said about boiler repair shops the better. However, neural health has a lot to do with it. Some 8-10 yrs ago, on a train journey, a sudden jolt did something inside my left ear, and for a few precious seconds I could hear everything around perfectly well in the left. Before I could begin to cheer, it went. Now this stimulation is something that massive doses of B-12 could possibly generate. Haven’t been able to try it out on myself, since in India we don’t get the sub-lingual variety with better absorption, and just how many 500mcg tablets can one take?. Anyone else dealing with presbycuosis I’d really be interested to hear from, for medical science doesn’t hv anything to offer.

    K.Gopal Rao wrote on June 5th, 2013
  26. I’m in my early 50s and was told a few years ago by my doctor that the osteoarthritis in my fingers (from flute playing) and knee (from running) was age related and there was nothing I could do about it. When I went gluten free, all the pain disappeared, along with my stiff ankles and other painful creaky bits. I’m still trying to convince my doctor that I don’t need calcium supplements to stave off osteoporosis–I lift weights (in the form of kettlebells) regularly and even compete in girevoy sport from time to time (I beat women who are 20 years younger). My problem, which is likely age related, is recovery. I’m in the best shape of my life and much stronger than I’ve ever been, but after a hard workout, it takes me longer to “bounce back.” Any suggestions or info that you can offer?

    Nicholle wrote on June 5th, 2013
    • Depending on your budget and diet restrictions / philosophy some d-Ribose and / or BCAA’s pre and a whey protein drink post workout may help, works pretty well for me (60 year old guy).

      George wrote on June 5th, 2013
      • Thanks!

        Nicholle wrote on June 5th, 2013
  27. I spend time in Florida each year visiting aging relatives. It’s a nice eye-opener each time because in these elder-communities you see plenty of healthy, active seniors. Biking, swimming, going to the gym, dancing, partying, golfing into their 90s. Having fun and enjoying life. It’s wonderful and encouraging. (Plus the Florida warmth and humidity in winter feel so good.)

    Of course, being Primal over two years now, at 53 I feel youthful, vigorous, pain-free – I feel like a poster child for Mark’s article today. And, with hair color and makeup I think I look pretty good too – even naked!

    Pure Hapa wrote on June 5th, 2013
  28. Another primal “oldster” here. At age 63 I’m in better shape than I’ve ever been in my whole life. Yes, there’s the grey hair and the wrinkles and recovery time is probably longer than a 20-yr.-old’s, but I am bursting with vitality and free of many pre-primal aches and pains. Oh, and avoided statins and stopped blood pressure meds. I’m going with the “live long, drop dead” plan, and just wish conventional geriatric care could see the wisdom of this approach.

    Marianne wrote on June 5th, 2013
  29. How about Tinnitus?? Can we turn that one around? I’ve read some who believe an anti-inflammatory diet (whatever that is for you) can make the ear-ringing subside.

    Years back when I tried being a Raw Vegan (which I can’t fathom now!) my ear ringing totally went away – for years. Recently, it’s come back again with a vengeance, and I’m wondering what I can do to turn it around.

    Any thoughts?

    Joseph wrote on June 5th, 2013
    • Do you eat dairy? It seems to me that the elimination of dairy products is why people can improve on vegan after coming straight from SAD.

      Amy wrote on June 5th, 2013
    • My tinnitus seams much better since going primal. Had a lot of damage from flying airplanes with no ear protection and punk rock way back when.

      Catharine s wrote on June 5th, 2013
      • i have had tinnitus for decades,from noise. recently my ENT gave me a samples of Lipoflavonids. they really do work. my tinnitus is much improved. give it a try.

        terrence chaplin wrote on June 5th, 2013
    • just posted this: lipoflavoniods do work to lessen tinnitus. my ENT gave me a sample. can get it any drug store with the vitamins!

      terrence chaplin wrote on June 5th, 2013
  30. Another terrific post. Love how this site has awesome info for people of all ages with all kinds of health concerns.

    Linda A. Lavid wrote on June 5th, 2013
  31. Reading articles like this just pumps me up even more. Back on the primal wagon after a month or two of gluten free grains, and feeling way better after two days!

    kate@katemarrin wrote on June 5th, 2013
  32. Great to see this article. When somebody says the “we’re getting old thing” I just say “not me”. I’m 59 and have lifted weights since 14, have added yoga for the last 12 years as well 1-2x per week and walk 1-1/2 hours a day with my dogs. The yoga classes are quite challenging as you have to do body weight bearing poses and hold them. My body fat could be lower and I’m working to get back to being more lean. That’s the challenge, keeping the man boobs away!

    Dan wrote on June 5th, 2013
  33. Thank you thank you thank you! Where were you all my life? In my 20s I had no energy. In my 30s I napped sitting up just I used to find my Grandma doing. In my 40s everything hurt my stomach but it was ok…i know where I was headed as my Grandma tolerate very little. Lets not talk about joint pain after all it happens as you get older. I’m in my 50s, nap free, grain free, just free. Now I’m just mom on that crazy diet converting my husband and adult kids one meal at a time.

    Judy G wrote on June 5th, 2013
    • Great stuff Judy! It really does border on the miraculous. One meal at a time should do the trick.

      Nocona wrote on June 5th, 2013
  34. It seems like whenever I get together with my family or future in-laws, all they talk about is how much a pain in the butt getting old is. Occasionally, even my patients will tell me “don’t ever get old.” Mark, I would love to hear your input on dementia. My 87 year old grandmother was recently diagnosed just a few months ago and is rapidly deteriorating. Some days the only thing she knows is her name. It’s interesting because she never gave into the conventional wisdom and, additionally, took daily walks all the way through her 70’s.

    Erin wrote on June 5th, 2013
    • Two words for dementia

      Coconut Oil

      db wrote on June 6th, 2013
      • Hi! You said 2 words for dementia is coconut oil. Can you please explain this IN DETAIL more as I work with older people & some with dementia & I would love to make life easier for them. I am looking forward to hearing from you & your specifics as to why it works. I love coconut oil by the way. You don’t have to convince me, it’s the facts I need. Thanks! Renee

        Renee wrote on June 9th, 2013
  35. My son introduced me to the Primal Blueprint over 2 years ago when I was searching for a weight loss plan I could live with for the rest of my life. He told me as long as you follow the plan 80% of the time you will lose weight. That sounded good because it allowed me not feel like a failure if I ate something wrong like most other program/plans out there. After 2 yrs of eating Primal I have lost 105lbs and am in the best shape of my life. I even joined a gym and workout on regular basis. I’m 56 and feel better than I did in my 20’s.
    My husband did not want to follow the plan right away, he was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and had a heart attack. After watching me melt away and cooking GF Primal he began to slowly get the picture. We have reversed his Type 2 and he no longer requires his medication. Right now I’m working on getting his cholesterol under control so he can get rid of that med also.
    Last weekend we had lunch with his sister and husband and they are both in their 70’s and the discussion always seems to head in the direction of getting old and what meds they are on etc. I am very proud of what we have accomplished through diet and exercise and want to shout it to the world! Just wish everyone would “get it” like I finally did! Thanks so much Mark you finally made this eating thing make sense and I’m sure you saved my husbands life.

    Jann Strasbaugh wrote on June 5th, 2013
  36. Yay! i love this. I am turning a young 40 this year and while my mind sometimes gets freaked out about it (mainly because i haven’t had kids yet) i look and feel better than i did in my 20s. i LOVE physical activities, i run, SUP, surf, WOD etc for pure enjoyment of it. I get carded at least 4-5 times a year (HOORAH!) and so far only 3 gray hairs have popped up. I feel like i’m maybe 27…but with infinetely more wisdom.

    Best part is this is just me getting started. The “ageing” response is pure laziness.

    Another aspect that I think keeps you feeling young is trying new things. A sport, a hobby, anything that makes you feel kind of uncomfortable and that is novel. Not being afraid of having to be the ‘expert’ at everything by a certain age is key. We have to constantly learn and expand both our bodies and minds to stay in that young, learning frame of mind.

    also, some amazing examples of people who have not let age limit them…
    laird hamilton
    don wildman
    dara torres etc

    mel wrote on June 5th, 2013
  37. I am 34 and was found to be LOW TESTOSTERONE. I learned first hand what that feels like and how dramatic the mental and physical effects are. I know inject every morning. I am convinced supplementation is not dangerous. My blood sugars are better (very important for longevity), my personality is perky, and I’m losing fat. Primal actually worked so well I improved levels on my own, but after adding in intense activity like Crossfit, I kept suffering low levels eventually. It is very hard to find doctors that will help this the right way.

    Dr Jason wrote on June 5th, 2013
    • How did you go about finding a doctor to help you with this?

      I had mine tested, and it was in the very low 300’s. They still consider this, the normal range, but it’s the bare minimum (even for someone who is 65), and I’m only 30!

      Planning on seeing an endocrinologist, but am expecting push back because I am a man, and this low level is considered in normal range (even though if it tested 10 lower it would be considered out of range). Expecting to be treating like I’m trying to get steroids, or lying to get pain killers… It’s seems endo’s are fine helping women with their hormonal issues, but men seem to meet a ton of resistance…

      Ryan wrote on June 7th, 2013
  38. Am 48 – Fit, Active, Happy, Healthy! Still immature ( so I’m told – but who are they!~LOL), I am the fun Dad of my daughters and their friends.
    Thanks to Mark and the Daily Apple.

    Rod Hilton wrote on June 5th, 2013
    • awesome! I get the same thing ( re being immature) but my girls love the fact that I skateboard, ride bikes, and just have a bunch of fun. The so called “mature” people can stuff it!

      Dave wrote on June 6th, 2013

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