As we age, we inevitably begin to face certain health complications. But what if I told you that a simple change in diet could help you avoid a seriously debilitating collection of symptoms known as frailty?
Frailty Symptoms and Consequences
Frailty is generally considered to be a state of late life decline and vulnerability characterized by weakness and decreased physiologic reserve. The effects of frailty are vast and carry with them a major impact on an individual’s quality of life.
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For example, exhaustion or achy joints are common symptoms of frailty that can cause people to miss out on making memories with friends and loved ones. Unfortunately, the negative impacts of this condition don’t end there. Frailty carries an increased risk of poor health outcomes including falls, hospitalization, and even death.
Study Finds the Mediterranean Diet May Offset Frailty
Inspired by the traditional foods of Greece and Southern Italy in the 1950s and 60s, the Mediterranean diet emphasizes eating high amounts of plant-based foods, lean meats, fish, and healthy fats. And as you probably know, studies have found it promotes a wide-range of health benefits, namely when it comes to supporting heart health. Now, the popular dietary practices of the Mediterranean diet are being linked to another health perk: reducing frailty among older adults.
According to a study conducted by French researchers, older adults who follow a Mediterranean diet may significantly reduce their risk of becoming frail. In the study, 560 participants with an average age of 82 were initially examined for frailty. The study defined frailty as having at least three of the following five criteria: involuntary weight loss, slowness, exhaustion, weakness and low physical activity. Then these participants were asked to follow the Mediterranean diet for two years, before being re-examined for signs of frailty.
Researchers found that older adults with a high adherence to the Mediterranean diet had a substantial frailty risk reduction of 68%. Not only did this adherence to the Mediterranean diet reduce frailty risk, but also the individual criteria used to determine it.
While it might seem strange that such simple dietary substitutions could have such a profound impact on frailty risk, it shouldn’t come as a surprise. Diets that are higher in protein and antioxidants are associated with lower risk of frailty, in general, and the Mediterranean diet capitalizes on this formula. In addition to being high in lean proteins and antioxidants, the diet discourages the consumption of processed foods and sugars, foods known to promote body-wide inflammation and discomfort.
Even if you’re not currently following the Mediterranean diet, you can try including key components of it to your everyday meals but eating more fresh, high-fat fish, nuts and olive oil. And if you have a favorite recipe that would be considered Mediterranean diet approved, tell us about it in the comments!.