French study links 'Med diet' pattern to lower risk of frailty

By David Anderson

- Last updated on GMT

©iStock/Santorines
©iStock/Santorines
Consumption of a Mediterranean style diet is rising in Europe and the US because they 'easy to follow', says author of paper linking Med diet with reduced frailty.

An increasing number of people in the US and Europe are eating Mediterranean diets to improve their health because it doesn’t involve clinical intervention, according to the author of new research, which found that consuming a Mediterranean style diet could reduce the risk of frailty in older people.

Speaking to NutraIngredients Berna Rahi, an expert in nutritional epidemiology at the University of California, said the popularity of Mediterranean diets was rising in Europe and the USA across all demographics, helped by the fact that those eating them don’t need to visit a doctor, pharmacist or dietician. 

“I can see it ​[Mediterranean diet] gaining lots of popularity not only in European countries but also in the US where everybody is trying to follow the Meditaranean type diets and seeing the beneficial effects. It’s gaining the attention,”​ she told us. 

“I think this is because of the beneficial effects and because it’s easy to follow. You just need to limit your intake of meat, limit your intake of dairy, ​[don't] limit your intake of fruit and vegetable and fish. It’s not too elaborate and hard to follow. It doesn’t need a specific follow up from a dietician or doctor.”​ 

Study details

The benefits of a Mediterranean diet in helping with healthy aging have been well documented through numerous studies. However, the new study specifically investigated the relationship between consuming a Mediterranean diet and the incidences of frailty among people over people over 75.

Research involved 560 non-frail participants aged over 75 who were examined in France, between 2009 and 2010 and then re-examined two years later. They filled in a questionnaire to indicate the degree to which they were following a Mediterranean type diet. 

Frailty was defined as patients showing signs of at least three conditions from exhaustion, involuntary weight loss, slowness, weakness and low physical activity.

The results show that 79 participants on the study (14%) became frail after the two year follow up.

Older adults who stuck most rigidly to a Mediterranean diet showed a significantly reduced frailty risk, 68%, compared to those who had the lowest adherence to the diet.

Within the criterion, the highest adherence to the Mediterranean diet was associated with a significantly reduced risk of slowness, poor muscle strength and low physical activity.

Rahi told us, she was now involved in further testing of Mediterranean diets and how it's linked to helping patients with Alzheimer’s, depression and other disease.

“The beneficial effects of a Mediterranean diet goes beyond many many illnesses,”​ she said.

Supplements also recommended

In addition to a Mediterranean diet, Rahi advocated consumption of multivitamin supplements to make up for any shortfall of nutrients.

“Probably a multivitamin mineral supplement is recommended. Usually our recommendation is for the most natural of foods and the least processed the better,”​ she told us.

“Mainly focus on eating fresh food and vegetable and fresh fish. But once in a while you need for example omega 3 and vitamin D supplements which can’t be corrected by food.”

Source: Clinical Nutrition
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2017.05.020
"High adherence to a Mediterranean diet and lower risk of frailty among French older adults community-dwellers: Results from the Three-City-Bordeaux Study"
Authors: Berna Rahi, et al

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