Meat of the Matter: Old, and Not-so-Rare

There’s no shortage of anti-aging “secrets” guaranteed to keep a person hale, hearty, healthy and happy for decades longer than their clueless colleagues who aren’t in on the secrets.

And as a proud contributor to the “graying of America,” I have to say that I previously considered such insights used to be for other people.

Now, I want in!

Truth be told, some of the more popular anti-aging tactics are often underappreciated: Think positively (“I could win the Lotto; I might win the Lotto I will win the Lotto!”); set goals (“Goal No. 1: Don’t die anytime soon.”); get lots of the “sunshine vitamin” D (No problem — I live in western Washington, where we get a bona fide sixty days of sun every single year).

Along with other common-sense strategies, these live longer can-dos always arrive at some variation of an eat-less-meat/go-full-veggie diet plan that touts the fabulous benefits of plant-based nutrition. What doesn’t make the headline, however, is the add-on to the plan, the aftermarket additions that need to be incorporated into one’s lifestyle.

For example: Dean Ornish, the physician and lifestyle guru — not my words — who is unabashedly pro-vegetarian, loves to preach the gospel according to Dean, which involves a low-fat diet he claims can reverse heart disease.

But what his disciples learn once they sign up for his 72-hour (that’s right: 72 hoursof instruction) course is that the program includes regular, and I mean daily, vigorous exercise, coupled with all kinds of anti-stress activities, along with an intense focus on building better relationships, connecting with people on a richer emotional level and bonding with those in our communities and social circles.

Don’t get me wrong. That’s all good. Very good, and very important. Heck, daily exercise alone cures a boatload of ills.

But programmatically, maybe eating less meat is the least of how you “fix” your dysfunctional lifestyle.

Well-Done, No Fun

That said, recent research from France now suggests that for seniors, it may be more important to consider not whether you eat meat, but how you cook it.

And this is straight from Reader’s Digest, so you know it’s gold.

Actually, the study originally appeared in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. But why read that rag when RD can condense it to a single paragraph wedged in between endless features on England’s Royal Family?

So let’s cut to the chase: Researchers from the Unit of Human Nutrition at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research, and the Center for Research in Human Nutrition Auvergne at Clermont-Ferrand University Hospital are suggesting that eating rare beef prevents older people from absorbing the protein they need.

According to the story, the team recruited 10 volunteers aged 70 to 82 years for a clinical trial in which on one occasion, they ate a rare steak; on another occasion, one that was well-done.

The scientists reported that post-prandial blood tests done revealed that the seniors absorbed significantly fewer amino acids when the meat was rare, compared with when the steaks were well-done.

“In view to preventing sarcopenia [the degenerative loss of muscle mass, quality, and strength that comes with age], elderly subjects should be advised to favor the consumption of well-cooked meat,” the researchers reported.

(Quote adapted via Google Translate from the original French, I’m guessing).

Younger people easily digest rare meat, the study authors noted, but their findings suggest that people over 65 should eat their beef well done.

Wow. And I thought that a receding hairline was going to be the worst part of life after getting that Medicare card in the mail.

But since the study demonstrated that seniors absorb less protein when eating rare steak, then I guess I’ll just have to double my portion size.

Editor’s Note: The opinions in this commentary are those of Dan Murphy, a veteran journalist and commentator.