Boots WebMD Partners in Health
Return To Boots

Healthy ageing health centre

Can a Mediterranean diet protect us as we age?

By
WebMD UK Health News Brief
Medically Reviewed by Dr Farah Ahmed
Greek Salad

11th January 2018 – Eating a Mediterranean diet is frequently recommended for good health and longer life. Now, a study suggests that it may protect us from many of the unpleasant characteristics of ageing.

Frailty is common among older people. Elderly people who are frail may have weaker muscles, weight loss and low energy reserves.

This can lead to falls, bone fractures, dementia and premature death.

It also places a costly burden on the NHS and social care.

The role of diet

A research team led by University College London has explored whether a healthier diet can reduce the risk of becoming frail.

They analysed evidence from 4 studies carried out in France, Spain, Italy and China involving 5,789 older people.

People were typically followed for almost 4 years.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, found "evidence that greater adherence to a Mediterranean diet is associated with significantly lower risk of incident frailty in community-dwelling older people".

The Mediterranean diet mainly emphasises foods that are low-fat, low- cholesterol and high- fibre. It is based on food patterns typical of Greece and southern Italy in the 1960s.

Fruit, veg and olive oil

Staple ingredients of the Mediterranean diet are fruit, vegetables, beans, nuts, cereals, fish, and olive oil. Intake of meat and dairy products is low.

The diet is low in saturated fats and has been associated with lower levels of heart disease, better brain health, and fewer cases of cancer and diabetes.

The researchers say to date, only a few studies have examined associations between the Mediterranean diet and the risk of becoming frail in old age. Also, many of these studies have been inconclusive.

They suggest that the Mediterranean diet may help older people maintain muscle strength, activity, weight and energy levels.

However, they caution that further studies to confirm their findings.

Reviewed on January 11, 2018

Stay informed

Sign up for BootsWebMD's free newsletters.
Sign Up Now!

Popular slideshows & tools on BootsWebMD

woman_holding_head_in_pain
How to help headache pain
rash on skin
Top eczema triggers to avoid
79x79_causes_of_fatigue_and_how_to_fight_it.jpg
Causes of fatigue & how to fight it
period_questions_answered
Tips to support digestive health
woman looking at pregnancy test
Is your body ready for pregnancy?
woman sleeping
Sleep better tonight
girl_sneezing_into_tissue
Treating your child's cold or fever
bucket with cleaning supplies in it
Cleaning and organising tips
adult man contemplating
When illness makes it hard to eat
woman holding stomach
Understand this common condition
cold sore
What you need to know