Cutting-edge research shows that the Mediterranean diet for beginners and healthy-diet veterans alike may also help elderly patients remain robust and healthy in later years
The Mediterranean diet is one of a group of popular diets that heavily focuses on fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains and lean white meats, while eliminating processed food, sugars, starches, saturated fats and most dairy. The Mediterranean diet for beginners trying the diet for the first time will find it very approachable with many options.
Unlike fad diets, which come and go very quickly, the Mediterranean diet has remained popular because it emphasizes healthy eating, rather than nutritional supplements that often contain sweeteners and carbs to improve taste and texture. While there is plentiful research showing the benefits of the Mediterranean diet for the general population, some exciting new research has shown its benefit, specifically for older patients.
This can be particularly important for your older patients who are already invested in a wellness lifestyle, or looking to change their health for the better.
Mediterranean diet for beginners: overall benefits
A 2015 study in the journal Nutrients conducted a meta-analysis of several smaller studies to examine the potential benefits of following a Mediterranean diet.1
The researchers combined the findings from several smaller studies to see if they were similar, which could make them more robust. They found that people who followed a Mediterranean diet had better cardiac and metabolic health, and lived longer than those who did not follow such a diet. Furthermore, there were some small, but promising results showing that the Mediterranean diet may also improve mental health.1
Gut health improvement, reduced frailty for seniors
A 2020 online-first article in the journal Gut examined the effects of a Mediterranean diet on the gut microbiota of 612 elderly subjects between the ages of 65 and 79.2
A total of 323 subjects (141 men and 182 women) were sorted to follow a Mediterranean diet over the course of 12 months. Their diet featured fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts, olive oil, and fish. There was very little red meat, dairy, or saturated fats. The remaining 289 subjects served as the control group and followed their usual diet.
The researchers discovered that those who followed a Mediterranean diet for beginners or diet veterans alike had improved gut health. Furthermore, the diet also appeared to reduce frailty, which is a major concern for the elderly population.2
The link between gut health and frailty
An earlier study in the same journal also drew a connection between dietary change, gut microbiota, and frailty.3 The authors noted that frailty in the elderly is the result of a gradual breakdown of multiple body systems, which is the result of widespread inflammation.
Because gut microbiota change as the body ages, the researchers theorized that diet may have a greater effect upon the body than simply aging as a whole.
They noted: “Intestinal microbiota of elderly is more likely to be affected by a broad range of potentially confounding factors, such as lifestyle (e.g., including diet and smoking), health status, medical treatment (including medication) and living situation rather than by ageing per se.”3
Changing to a healthier, Mediterranean style diet may reduce inflammation, thereby improving frailty. Overall, a Mediterranean-style diet will provide much more in the way of nutrients than the average person’s diet. Now, cutting edge research shows that the Mediterranean diet for beginners and healthy-diet veterans alike may also help the elderly remain robust and healthy.
- Davis C, Bryan J, Hodgson J, Murphy K. Definition of the Mediterranean Diet: A literature review. Nutrients. 2015;7(11):9139-9153.
- Ghosh TS, Rampelli S, Jeffery IB, et al. Mediterranean diet intervention alters the gut microbiome in older people reducing frailty and improving health status: the NU-AGE 1-year dietary intervention across five European countries [published online ahead of print, 2020 Feb 17]. Gut. 2020;gutjnl-2019-319654.
- An R, Wilms E, Masclee AAM, et al. Age-dependent changes in GI physiology and microbiota: Time to reconsider? Gut. 2018;67(12):2213-2222.