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Mediterranean Diet Better For Frail Elderly?

A new analytical study of a number of surveys on the health of elderly people suggests that physical frailty – common in older folks who are otherwise fit and mentally agile – may be ‘treatable’ through diet and nutrition – specifically by encouraging older folks to follow the so-called Mediterranean Diet…

Elderly Do Better On The Med Diet - © cdn-a.william-reed.comThe elderly may be at less risk of becoming frail if they follow the Mediterranean Diet

I have a vested interest in this topic. I care for my 93-year-old mother in my home. I’ve seen her grow weaker over the past few years on what would otherwise be considered a nutrient-rich balanced diet. I make sure our family’s diet is optimized, not just for Mom’s sake. I’m not getting any younger, and sister Erin is not making much headway against her various metabolistic ills and aggravations.

Along with frailty comes a lack of ability to get up and get out and do things. Then comes the frustration that arises from that. It’s a vicious circle, and Mom’s caught in it. Frailty is more than just a loss of quality of life. It can lead to other issues, as well. Frail older adults may also be more likely to suffer from other health concerns, including falls, fractures, hospitalization, nursing home placement, disability, dementia, and premature death.

An interesting and pleasant solution…

So, imagine my interest was tweaked when I noticed that a new survey of existing studies of on elderly health which suggested that frailty may just be a matter of shifting ones diet and nutrition practices.

A recent article in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society shows there’s a clear relationship between diet and frailty. A team led by Dr. Kate Walters and Dr. Gotaro Kojima of University College London analyzed evidence from all published studies examining associations between adherence to a Mediterranean diet and development of frailty in older individuals. The analysis included 5789 people in four studies in France, Spain, Italy, and China.

The investigators noted that the Mediterranean diet may help older individuals maintain muscle strength, activity, weight, and energy levels.

“People who followed a Mediterranean diet the most [closely] were overall less than half as likely to become frail over a nearly four-year period compared with those who followed it the least,” Walters notes.

So, here goes…

I’m putting more Fish and Seafood on my shopping list, more Veggies and more plant-based foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes (Peas, Beans and Lentils), and nuts.

My challenges? Get Mom to eat more Nuts without them driving her nuts when they get under her dentures. Raw Fruits and Veggies don’t ‘sit’ as well with mom as they used to. I’ll try camouflaging them inside other dishes she likes. Burgers, Meatloaf and Meatballs all can hide a host of shredded Veggies! Then, there’s Mom’s recently-developed aversion to Red Sauces of any kind. That makes Italian cuisine a challenge and it’s a rich culture from which I could otherwise draw all kinds of recipe inspiration following the Mediterranean Diet.

But I’ll figure it out. And I’ll report back to you in this space after a few weeks on the new regime…

~ Maggie J.