Mediterranean diet could help prevent frailty in older people

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Scientists from Hebrew SeniorLife and Harvard found that consuming a Mediterranean-style diet may prevent frailty.

Frailty is most often defined as an aging-related syndrome of physiological decline, characterized by marked vulnerability to adverse health outcomes.

Scientists measure frailty as a complex variable based on five indicators: weakness, slowness, weight loss, exhaustion, and low physical activity.

One cause of frailty is the age-related loss of muscle mass. Research suggests that activities like walking and easy strength-training moves improve strength and reduce weakness – even in very old, frail adults.

The Mediterranean diet is a diet inspired by the eating habits of people who live near the Mediterranean Sea. When initially formulated in the 1960s, it drew on the cuisines of Greece, Italy, France, and Spain.

The Mediterranean diet is rich in flavorful ingredients like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and heart-healthy fats.

It can provide a variety of benefits and may help support brain function, promote heart health, regulate blood sugar levels, and more.

However, the effect of the Mediterranean diet on frailty in older Americans is not clear.

In the study, researchers sought to determine the effects of a Mediterranean-style diet and related antioxidants on frailty risk in older people.

They used data from 2384 non-frail adults from the Framingham Offspring Study with a Mediterranean-style dietary pattern score and data on antioxidant intakes (vitamin C, E, and total carotenoids).

These people also finished the frailty assessment during the 11 years of follow-up.

The team found that a 1-unit higher Mediterranean-style diet score reduced the risk of frailty by 3%.

In addition, each 10-mg higher total carotenoid and vitamin E intake reduced the risk of frailty by 16% and 1%, respectively. No effect of vitamin C was found.

The team also found that the benefits in people aged younger than 60 were stronger for each 1-unit higher Mediterranean-style diet score and total carotenoid intake than in older people.

Based on these findings, they suggest that eating a Mediterranean-style diet and intake of carotenoids may help with frailty prevention over time, particularly in people younger than 60 years old.

The research is published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and was conducted by Courtney L Millar et al.

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