Dr KK Aggarwal
Eating a poor quality diet may increase the chances of becoming frail for older adults, according to results from The Health, Aging, and Body Composition Study reported earlier this month in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.
More than 2000 older adults, aged 70 to 81 years were included in the study. They were either "robust," as they did not appear to have any cognitive problems or issues with physical frailty, or "pre-frail," because they only had one or two symptoms of frailty when they entered the study.
To be considered frail, participants had to have at least three of these five health issues: unintentional weight loss of more than 5% of their body weight in the past 12 months; weak hand grip strength or too much pain in joints to complete this assessment; regular daytime exhaustion; slow walking speed; and physical inactivity.
During the 4‐year follow‐up, 277 of the 2154 participants, robust or pre‐frail at baseline, developed frailty, and 629 of the 1020 participants, robust at baseline, developed pre‐frailty or frailty.
People with poor quality diets were almost twice as likely as those with high-quality diets to become frail, and a medium-quality diet was associated with a 40% higher risk of frailty.
Among the robust, those with lower vegetable protein intake had a higher “pre‐frailty or frailty” incidence. No associations for energy or protein intake were observed.
Earlier studies have shown that adequate intake of protein reduces risk of frailty, but this study shows that it is not just the protein, but the quality of the overall diet that influences the risk of developing frailty in old age.
Variety and moderation in diet are key to a healthy body and mind. Our ancient rituals and traditions have given us a way out of the conundrum of diet problems. They advocate the principles of ‘variety’ and ‘moderation’ i.e. eat a variety of food and eat in moderation. They also recommend including all seven colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue/purple, white) and six tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent) for a balanced diet.
Here are some tips for a healthy meal.
· Practice mindful eating i.e. Eat less and enjoy your food by eating slowly.
· Fill half your plate with fruit and vegetables.
· Avoid oversized portions which can cause weight gain.
· At least half of your grains should be whole grains.
· Limit consumption of food high in trans fats and sugar.
· Choose healthy fats. Use fat–free or low fat milk and/or dairy products.
· Drink plenty of water. Avoid sugary drinks.
· Avoid foods that have high sodium levels such as snacks, processed foods.
· Above all, balance your food choices with your activity level.
Padma Shri Awardee
President Elect Confederation of Medical Associations in Asia and Oceania (CMAAO)
Group Editor-in-Chief IJCP Publications
President Heart Care Foundation of India