Over-50 Whole 30

Whole Nerdy

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I want to share a bit about what I see as the advantages of Whole 30 eating for people over 50, with one possible caveat.

A while back when I was a lithe young thing in my thirties, a friend of mine in his mid-fifties sat down heavily on a bench and said to me, "You see, this is what happens when you get older--your muscles get all achy." I remember thinking, Oh, no, I don't want that to be me. Cut to me in my late forties and early fifties--sure enough, I'd wake up in the morning, shuffle my sore limbs to the bathroom, and look back at a puffy face. I just thought it was normal. Then I started a paleo-style diet, and the achiness almost immediately went away. It was dramatic: I could bend over and place my palms on the floor first thing in the morning, which I couldn't have dreamed about before.

Recently, my sugar habit came back, with a vengeance. I would feel tired and creaky just walking up the stairs. So I did a Whole45, just to really keep the sugar demons at bay. It was a joy to feel the litheness I had felt in my limbs at a young age return. I felt like someone had literally oiled my joints. I am emphasizing this because so many people believe that soreness and lack of flexibility are an inevitable product of old age. It ain't so.

Another great advantage of Whole30-ing for older people is the way it changes your habits. By the time you've been on the planet for half a century or more, your manner of thinking about food and your style of eating have become pretty well engrained. Your mind may try to be as inflexible as your body once was. We all know from research and from the examples of people around us that changing habits and learning new skills are both an important part of aging well. With Whole30 you have to rethink a lot of things you may have been doing automatically that no longer serve you. This in itself is freeing. 

What's the caveat? My lipids level zoomed up along with my adoption of the paleo diet--both HDL and LDL increased; my doctors have been pestering me to go on statins. Women lose the protection that estrogen previously gave to their heart when they go through menopause, so heart-released problems often show up at this stage. I am not sure how much this increase in cholesterol had to do with my change in diet or with menopause itself. Probably a combination of both. Now that I have completed my Whole45 I am experimenting with a Mediterranean-style diet--still grain-free, but veering in the direction of fish and lowering my intake of red meat, which is problematic anyway (increases cancer risk in many studies, high carbon footprint). 

I have learned so much from this Whole45, including how much the foods I eat influence my cognitive and concentration skills. (Hint: much more than I previously thought!) Again, eating the foods that work for me help me to preserve that most precious resource. Good luck to all you at all ages.



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  • 4 weeks later...

I'm also a 50-something and I can totally relate to what you are saying in regards to the aches, pains and concentration skills. I was another one of those whose joints creaked in the morning and ached at night, and within two weeks, I felt decade younger.

More flexibility, less inflammation and joint pain. I also found myself able to concentrate at a higher level for longer periods of time.

I'm four months out from when I started W30, and my habits, lifestyle and heath have all changed dramatically for the positive. The type of fuel we put in the one engine we have DOES matter. It just took the discipline and structure of W30 to help me realize how much it mattered.

Continued good luck to you. 


- ML

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  • 1 month later...

I am concerned about eating so much meat on the whole 30?  Does it increase your cholesterol?  My cholesterol is a little high already. I am hoping that it does increase my concentration and energy. I am going through menopause and I can't believe how many things I forget or can't pull a word or name up when I need it.  It is so frustrating. 

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There are many studies now proving that dietary cholesterol does not affect blood cholesterol - there's lots of accessible information if you google but here's an article from Cleveland Clinic to start you off


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Hello Debra,

Thanks for sharing your concerns. I would venture to say that if you are in the early stages of menopause, whatever is true for you now may not be true a year from now. Or even a month, or a week from now. (: Your body is trying to find a new normal, and the way it does that may cause discomfort. That said, I have found Whole30 to be a wonderful way to experiment with what foods your body wants to have currently, and as a general reset. I am not a medical or nutritional expert, but I would hazard a guess that what you eat within a 30-day period is not going to have an adverse long-term impact.

For me, the best payoff for my Whole45 (see my post above) was the reintroductions, because I got to see how foods I had been eating routinely affected me either positively or negatively. I had no idea what these foods had been doing to my body and mind my whole life until I stopped eating them.

I've been in menopause for 5-1/2 years now and it's settled down some, but I remember how rough and disorienting the first couple years can be. Hang in there--it is worth it!--I have whole new perspectives on my life now. I went on a low dose of hormones for about 2 years because my energy was so low. That's not what I originally planned to do, and that's OK--one gift of menopause is to get rid of the shoulds, and just start living.

My cholesterol and most notably LDLs (although not other unhealthy markers) continue to increase, so I am going to have to decide what to do about that. As far as what those figures mean, and whether it is really unhealthy, it all depends on what experts you consult, what websites you consult, what studies they reference. There's a lot of hot disagreement between the paleo (along with other alternative health communities) and conventional, mainstream medicine on this issue, and on the advisability of going on statins. 

Good luck! and let your body, your mind and your own intuition be your best guides.

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  • 5 months later...

The Cleveland Clinuc article cited is certainly a quick snapshot of a complete study. Still, is does imply that if you are genetically predisposed to metabolizing dietary cholesterol in a way that adversely affects your lipid profile, you may need to consider changing parts of your diet. No one thing will work the same way for everyone. 

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  • 9 months later...

My husband and I are both 52 and on day 15 of Whole30. We've been surprised at how unexpectedly easy it has been. He is usually the complainer when it comes to trying something new that requires eliminating things he loves, but he has not caved once and has even talked me down from a weak moment. Haha!

I just wanted to echo the huge NSV that we are already experiencing in the way of fewer joint aches and more energy. I am thrilled to also see that the plantar fasciitis that I have been struggling with for the past four months is starting to improve. I believe that most Americans suffer from inflammation needlessly with no idea how incredible they could feel (and really quickly) if they would just change the way they eat. 

I wish we had tried Whole30 a long time ago!!!!

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