The older people follow diets inspired by the Mediterranean countries, the less likely they are to become debilitated, according to research analysis. The team analyzing data on nearly 6,000 elderly people participated in four studies, three of which were conducted in Mediterranean countries and one in Asia.
“More and more people live in the world until the 1980s and beyond and there is a lot of interest in knowing how people stay healthy and independent as they age,” lead researcher Kate Walters Health said in an e-mail.
“Some people with aging health problems may become debilitated, which makes them feel symptoms such as lack of energy, muscle weakness, decreased appetite, weight loss, and a general feeling that they are slower and find it difficult to recover after illness,” added Walters, a researcher at London University College in the UK.
“This is linked to the possibility of hospitalization or dependence on the care of others. We have studied ways to prevent this, including dieting and exercise.”
“There is a lot of research on the types of exercise and it proves to be useful to you, but there is much less research on the role and types of diet, such as the Mediterranean diet,” she said.
Diseases of Aging
wrote Walters and her colleagues, the researchers in the journal “American Society for diseases of aging” that the Mediterranean diet based on traditional patterns of food in Greece and Southern Italy includes foods based vegetarian, such as vegetables, legumes, and nuts as well as fish and seafood. The main source of fat in this system is olive oil instead of animal fat.
The study re-analyzed the data of previously published studies conducted in China, France, Italy, and Spain, which recorded the participants’ diets according to their adherence to the principles of the Mediterranean diet.
But Michael Bojeski of the Department of Geriatrics of the Montefiore Health System Hospitals in New York, who did not participate in the study, said there were other factors that could be the cause of differences among study participants in the risk of asthenia, factors linked to the person who follows the system. Diet and not the diet itself.
“For example, olive oil, fish, nuts, fresh fruit, and vegetables can be expensive, and those who can afford these foods may also be able to get better health care,” he added.
“They may also be more educated or aware of the health aspects, so they are more likely to eat healthier and exercise, which may reduce their risk of asthenia.”
But he added that the results of the study were “interesting” and that there was strong evidence to support the Mediterranean diet to avoid cardiovascular disease.