We all know diet plays a major role in our health, and as we age, it plays an even more crucial part.
According to a recent study conducted by University College London in the UK, and published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, older people can reduce their risk of growing frail and feeble by following one well-known diet.
The not-so-secret nutrition regimen is the Mediterranean diet. The researchers from London came to the conclusion based on their in-depth analysis of published studies on older adults, and incidences of frailty related to specific diets.
The Mediterranean diet needs no introduction, being one of the most popular and traditional ways of eating around the world, but we’ll give it one anyway. Based on eating practices in Greece, Southern Italy and Spain circa 1960, it’s regarded as one of the healthiest diets to adhere to, relying heavily on the trio of plant-based foods, whole grains and healthy fats.
Typically, the diet features medium-to-high consumption of fish, moderate dairy products and wine, and low counts of non-fish meat products and sweets.
The diet is a healthy option for weight loss at any age, and has been associated with lowered risks of heart disease and early death.
So just how does a Mediterranean diet prevent the effects of frailty?
Dr. Kate Walters, joint study leader and director of the Centre For Ageing And Population Studies at University College London, and her team analyzed four studies that examined links between incidence of frailty and following a Mediterranean diet for 5,789 people in China, France, Italy and Spain, over an average time period of 3.9 years.
All four studies concluded that people who followed diets closest to the Mediterranean nutrition plan had a much lower incidence of frailty.
“People who followed a Mediterranean diet the most were overall less than half as likely to become frail over a nearly 4-year period compared with those who followed it the least,” said Walters.
Frailty is a common geriatric syndrome that comes along with ageing, therefore affecting older adults. The syndrome can heighten the risk of falls, incident disability, hospitalization and mortality. Frailty has been connected to loss of muscle, too, which may lead to weakness, lower energy levels, less activity, slowing down, and in extreme cases, unintended weight loss.
The Mediterranean diet allows older people to better maintain the energy levels, weight, activity, and muscle dexterity.
Having said that, the studies are void from confirming if other factors may have been responsible for the frailty prevention. Factors related to gender, age, social class, smoking, alcohol, physical exercise or the overall state of health each participant was in, were not accounted for.
But the Mediterranean diet has tremendous health benefits regardless, so it may be wise for older adults to consider this nutritional regimen. With the inclusion of virtually every food group, the diet is one of the easier ones to follow in comparison to other restrictive diet schemes.
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