It could be argued that the biggest battle for older folks keeping fit is not fought over muscle tone or cardiovascular strength.  The biggest stumbling block for the older active or sporty person is joint-health.

I’m a climber.  I climb up things (and fall off them) just for the fun of it.  This activity exercises my whole body.  Last year, I was climbing once a week. I wanted to climb more but it took a full week of rest before my joints felt like they could handle the strain again.  I tried taking supplements, great big chondroitin and qlucosamine caplets (more like caplarges) and there was a slight improvement but not enough to change my climbing regime.

Then, fate took a hand and one of my kids came home from university and started going climbing with me.  As part of the father-daughter evening, we would always stop on the way home at a Nigerian restaurant for an ‘après montée’ restorative. My choice was always ‘assorted meat peppersoup’ and from that very first time, I noticed a change.  The next day, all the pains in knuckles. elbows, shoulders, knees and hips that I associated with climbing were negligible.  I went from hobbling around on the mornings after to feeling like I could climb again the following day.  We upped our sessions to twice a week and now I am trying to free up another evening so I can make it three sessions.

Nigerian style assorted meat peppersoup

Assorted meat peppersoup

I’d like to say that it was the science of nutrition that led me to this little magical secret but that wouldn’t be truthful, it was my love of peppersoup that revealed the secret.  The science only came to bear when I needed to explain the results of my inadvertent empirical experiment.  One might say that the bowl of peppersoup was my Newton’s apple.

So, why does a bowl of peppersoup erase the ravages of a tough physical activity?

Here’s my hypothesis:

Firstly, the cuts of assorted meat’ in the soup including goat-meat and bokoto (cow’s foot) are rich in bone, connective tissue and even hide.

Assorted meat pepper-soup

Meat, bones and cartilage, slow-cooked until tender in a spicy broth.

These are then cooked for a very long time until tender, with all juices retained in the soup, creating a broth brimming with collagen and natural glucosamine and chondroitin.

These provide all the building blocks a body needs to repair and rebuild its cartilage.


Secondly, as implied by its name, Nigerian peppersoup is hot and spicy, making it an excellent vasodilator.  What this means is that drinking peppersoup expands your blood vessels and improves your circulation.

This unique combination of attributes is wonderful indeed.  Imagine a weary body, aching, inflamed joints crying for relief, stomach empty and ready to attack anything that shows up in it and in flows this wonderful elixir.  The first thing that happens is that arteries and veins expand in response to the pepper and spice, allowing better blood-flow to and from swollen joints and muscles for instant relief.  Next, the entire spectrum of building blocks needed for joint repair is rapidly broken down in the hungry stomach and sent by express delivery down the fired up circulatory system to commence the repair work.  The final part of the story is that since this is a soup, the body’s fluids and salts are also restored, and the good hydration essential to recovery is in place.

After peppersoup, a long hot shower and a good night’s sleep. Even an aged athlete will spring out of bed, ready to go again.


Major Abs’ Takeaway

Don’t forget to warm down and stretch appropriately after your exertions

Drink peppersoup.  Especially after hard physical activity.  Even if you’re young.

Adding vegetables to peppersoup make it a more complete meal

Peppersoup with broccoli

If Nigerian style peppersoup is not your thing, you can modify it.  I like throwing some vegetables into mine to make it more of a meal.  You can make your own version entirely, start with a good bone broth and add other spices to add the vasodilation element, garlic and ginger will do a good job too.