- A diet containing Mediterranean food might reduce the risk of frailty in older people.
- Mediterranean diet usually consists of plant-based foods such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts
- Frailty is very common among older individuals, they may also have lower energy levels and muscle strength.
Increased adherence to a Mediterranean diet may reduce the risk of incident frailty among the elderly. The findings of this study are further discussed in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
Frailty is common among older people, and its prevalence is increasing as the population ages. Frail older adults may often feel low in energy and have weight loss and weak muscle strength.
They are more likely to suffer from numerous health concerns, including falls, fractures, hospitalization, nursing home placement, disability, dementia, and premature death. Frailty is also associated with a lower quality of life.
The researchers analyzed evidence from all published studies examining associations between adherence to a Mediterranean diet and development of frailty in older individuals. Their analysis included 5789 people in four studies in France, Spain, Italy, and China.
"We found the evidence was very consistent that older people who follow a Mediterranean diet had a lower risk of becoming frail," said Dr. Walters. "People who followed a Mediterranean diet the most were overall less than half as likely to become frail over a nearly four-year period compared with those who followed it the least."
The investigators noted that the Mediterranean diet might help older individuals maintain muscle strength, activity, weight, and energy levels, according to their findings. "Our study supports the growing body of evidence on the potential health benefits of a Mediterranean diet, in our case for potentially helping older people to stay well as they age," said Dr. Kojima.
Although older people who followed a Mediterranean diet had a lower risk of becoming frail, it's unclear whether other characteristics of the people who followed this diet may have helped to protect them.
"While the studies we included adjusted for many of the major factors that could be associated--for example, their age, gender, social class, smoking, alcohol, how much they exercised, and how many health conditions they had--there may be other factors that were not measured and we could not account for," said Dr. Walters. "We now need large studies that look at whether increasing how much you follow a Mediterranean diet will reduce your risk of becoming frail."
- Gotaro Kojima, Christina Avgerinou, Steve Iliffe,Kate Walters. Adherence to Mediterranean Diet Reduces Incident Frailty Risk: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis, Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (2018).DOI: 10.1111/jgs.15251