Harvard Doctors Discover That This Type of Diet Can Dramatically Reduce Your Risk of Frailty


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The study found that frailty risk can be decreased by a Mediterranean diet.

Scientists believe it is important to create measures for frailty prevention and treatment since 10-15% of older adults become frail.

Recent research indicated that eating a Mediterranean-style diet may reduce frailty. The study was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Frailty, which affects 10-15% of older adults, is defined as a recognizable state of heightened vulnerability brought on by a loss in function across numerous physiological systems.

Despite the fact that the overall benefits of a Mediterranean-style diet are widely established, it was unclear how it would help older Americans who don’t often eat this way reduce their frailty.

According to the study, eating a Mediterranean-style diet may help avoid the onset of frailty as people age. The research included 2,384 non-frail individuals from the Framingham Offspring Study with a Mediterranean-style dietary pattern score and antioxidant intakes (vitamin C, E, and total carotenoids) assessed using a food frequency questionnaire along with frailty evaluations that were carried out over a period of around 11 years.

Stronger adherence to a Mediterranean-style diet lowered the risks of frailty by 3% for every unit higher score on the Mediterranean Style Dietary Pattern Score (which scores diets from 0 to 10).

The research also looked at whether a particular kind of antioxidant (carotenoids, vitamins E and C) prevalent in a Mediterranean diet is linked to frailty. The Framingham Heart Study found that a higher intake of carotenoids, an antioxidant typically found in brightly colored fruits and vegetables, was most strongly associated with a decreased risk of developing frailty in middle-aged and older men and women. According to the study, each 10-mg increase in total carotenoid intake decreased the risk of frailty by 16 percent. Vitamins E and C have no significant relationship in preventing frailty.

Courtney L Millar, Ph.D., Post-Doctoral Fellow, Marcus Institute of Aging Research, Hebrew SeniorLife, and Harvard Medical School, is the lead author. “People may be able to prevent frailty by following the principles of the Mediterranean-style diet,” Dr. Millar said.

The Mediterranean-style diet encourages the consumption of fruits and vegetables.

“Increasing the intake of brightly colored fruits and vegetables that are rich in carotenoids as well as other bioactive compounds may ultimately affect the health of older adults,” said Dr. Shivani Sahni, the senior author.

Reference: “Adherence to the Mediterranean-style diet and high intake of total carotenoids reduces the odds of frailty over 11 years in older adults: Results from the Framingham Offspring Study” by Courtney L Millar, Elise Costa, Paul F Jacques, Alyssa B Dufour, Douglas P Kiel, Marian T Hannan and Shivani Sahni, 12 May 2022, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
DOI: 10.1093/ajcn/nqac130

The Framingham Heart Study, Boston University, and Tufts University collaborated on this observational study. This study was funded by the National Institute on Aging’s support of the Boston Claude D. Pepper Center OAIC and the Peter and Barbara Sidel Fund.