S2 Episode 3 - Midlife Aging The New Way With Kristin Johnson + Maria Claps


Kristin on the science behind why women in midlife should be eating protein:

The focus for midlife metabolic health, as well as our bone health and our immune system function on our inflammatory response, are all of these things that drive ageing. We're not trying to escape aging, we're trying to age really healthfully, and those things can get off track by diet and lifestyle. The number one way we have influence over ageing is making decisions around food and muscle is something that's very under appreciated. As women we want to have these svelt, toned bodies and we’re a generation that was raised on the Jane Fonda workouts that was focused on calories in calories out. Unfortunately that's really been detrimental for women as we come into our fifties because what's really happening is that we're losing muscle and that's a natural function. It's not something we can short circuit and avoid. However we can mitigate the effects of that and muscle is the reason why it's so important. It's got the biomechanical implications and muscle actually regulates everything from our metabolism, our ability to handle glucose from carbohydrates, our inflammatory response, it has a huge role in the immune system. So given that it's been lost, we need to design a life that maximizes it and eating protein, particularly first thing in the morning, is the most important thing women overlook. They think I go to the gym so I'm protecting my muscle. But the reality is muscle needs two things to protect it. Iit needs the stressors of exercise and strength training, but it also needs the amino acid substrates in order to synthesize into the muscle that you're attempting to grow and strengthen. By eating protein you're providing your body with those amino acids and that's the most important thing women need to focus on. 

Maria on animal protein vs plant protein:

Protein is an umbrella type of terminology. It really comes down to which amino acids that protein is comprised of. We would go so far to say that not all protein is protein. Well what does that mean? There are certain amino acids that will not help muscle growth that you need to age healthily. The plant protein enthusiasts will say eat soy, but we could poke several holes through that as it's often very contaminated and it's also not beneficial for the thyroid. You’re only limiting yourself to soy and so you'd have to eat a lot of it. It also comes down to the amino acids; the quality of the amino acids and the amount of amino acids. To build quality muscle we need good amounts of leucine in the amino acids which plant protein lacks.

The bioavailability is the other piece that people don't understand. When companies say that plants have certain amounts of protein in them, they are talking about protein that could be measured in a lab. They're not talking about protein that your body can access and then synthesize. There is protein in plants that lacks the leucine, it lacks the complete profile that we need for muscle synthesis, but it also isn't necessarily accessible to you. There's different components within plants that block your body from accessing that protein.

Kristin on how to incorporate protein into your diet:

Women usually want a lighter, sweeter breakfast and as an example, today I had 3 chicken apple sausages, that was fifteen grams of protein, a small ¾ cup serving of some greek yogurt, 13 grams of protein, stirred in a scoop of Whey protein, 22 grams, and had some not gronolagronola that had milk protein in it, and in total my meal was 53 grams of protein and it was just a small plate of a couple sausage and a bowl of yogurt. When you eat that amount of protein there's a satiety level that you get with protein that you don’t get with carbohydrates or even fats, because we can get sick of fats, it's almost too much. With protein you will have a balanced blood sugar profile, you will have sustained energy.

Maria on aging successfully:

It's really about what really matters to you. What are you going to care about at 80 years old? You're not going to care about being wrinkle-free and a manicured set of nails. These things aren’t bad, I color my hair, I get it, I'm not a purist by any means, but we see so many women focusing on what they can see as palpable versus are they really truly aging healthily? What are their bones like? What is their mood like? How many decades is their cognition going to go the distance for them? Instead we see I want to lose weight. There's a drug that's sweeping the world which is a diabetes drug but it's being used as a weight loss drug. You could basically sell poop on a stick if you tell women they're going to lose weight. It seems to be our only obsession.

Kristin: A lot of it is unfortunately the social media influence. We have these devices that are ubiquitous, they're in our hands or nearby at all times, hitting us with notifications triggering dopamine and getting us to look. What we see is this fitspo influencer type stuff that's sending a message that says this is what anti-aging looks right like. This is what success means as you age. To have six-pack abs. And we call BS on that a hundred times over because what success looks like is do you have purpose in life? Do you have a meaningful relationship whether partnered or not? Do you have love in your life and are you able to give to others? Are you living independently? Are you seeking joy and traveling and doing the things that light your lamp? We're frustrated with the replacement of the measuring stick of aging and the measuring stick of aging is are you a burden on the health care system? And if you want to miss these moments in life so that you can be in the gym and get your 6 pack abs and measure every morsel of your food and be the Debbie Downer at the Thanksgiving table because you won't eat anything that's there, that's your choice, but we ask women to take a step back and say really? That's what these 50+ years have led up to? So it's a shift in thinking and we want women to step back and realize that they're being played with the social media imaging of what is aging.

Maria on HRT in the US:

Menopause is having a moment and therefore HRT is having a moment. We've got lots of tech companies dispensing HRT and we also have a few celebrities that are starting to talk about it. They're kind of coming up with products centered around hot flashes or hair loss. But there’s still a lot of misinformation and there are still doctors, some of them integrative functional medicine doctors, not all of them, but some of them, still saying “oh you can't do hormones, they're dangerous” which makes Kristin and I roll our eyes that they would even say that! 

Kristin on HRT in the US:

The UK’s doing a better job than in the States. We read just about everything that's out there in terms of different media sources to see what the landscape is showing and I will say in the UK, you’re having a better conversation around HRT itself. In the US,  it's become monetized, a short term fad to address symptoms. Whereas we're seeing these conversations in the UK media, different interviews that are really understanding that this is a really important element to aging well. We're hoping that can come over here.

Maria on why Wise + Well teaches about HRT:

It's really important that women go into the decision about taking HRT informed. That's really our goal, to make sure women go in informed. Even if they decide not to use HRT, which is absolutely an option. You can still be healthy as there are lots of things you can do besides HRT. We want women to go in and not hear just from one doctor, or one friend’s experience, because then they're only getting one story. We present the A to Z, sideways, upside down, every method, every route of administration and then women get a wider feel for HRT, how it fits in with them, their lifestyle, their budget and we guide them on how to make an educated decision.  

Kristin on how companies are trying to monetize on menopause:

We love the fact that the word menopause has become mainstream. Our mothers whispered to each other if they even spoke of it at all. So that would be the silver lining of this. But unfortunately like it so often happens in capitalist countries, it's become about making the buck. What we're frustrated with is that it's very symptom focused. All of these femtech companies and new interventions that are being developed with brands, in our view, are saying to women here we can help you get through this stage but they are completely either ignorant or wilfully leaving out of the discussion that hormones need to be replete in a woman's body in order to insure certain ​​metabolic metastasis. If we're going to focus on supplements to just get you through a hot flash we're lying to women. These femtech companies are flat out lying. Yes it may be lying by omission, but they're flat out lying and so that's part of what drives Maria and I to do what we do. We're pretty adamant that nobody else is doing what we're doing from the standpoint of we are constantly educating ourselves. We pay for mentorships with some of the leading clinical doctors in HRT. We sit on the faculty of the women's hormone network. We are so devoted to consuming everything that we can. We've talked to certain companies, even pellet companies, that claim something and we thought this could be a great shift in the landscape but then we were able to see that they were selling something they didn't have and then we can educate women on that. It is big business, in the States we've got $600 billion in venture capital opportunities that's been tacked on to women as menopausal and we've got this huge bubble of aging women. The amount of women that are coming into menopause globally is ginormous, so unfortunately, rather than truly moving the needle in terms of using hormones to improve women's health, what we've done is packaged women as prey and we have a lot of financial opportunities targeted on our heads right now.