Does the Mediterranean diet protect the elderly against frailty?

Thanks to its beneficial effects on the gut microbiota, the Mediterranean diet is considered the best defense against age-related frailty syndrome.

Created 28 May 2020
Updated 04 December 2023
Actu GP : Le régime méditerranéen contre la fragilité des seniors ?

About this article

Created 28 May 2020
Updated 04 December 2023

Ageing is associated with the deterioration of numerous body functions and generalized inflammation, which contribute to (sidenote: Frailty syndrome Frailty syndrome is diagnosed based on three of the following five criteria: sedentary lifestyle; recent weight loss; exhaustion or fatigue; decreased muscle strength; and slow walking pace. It involves a risk of functional decline, institutionalization, and death, French National Academy of Medicine, 2013 )  among the elderly. It seems highly likely that diet plays a role in this process, since lack of variety leads to alterations in the gut microbiota thought to increase the risk of frailty. Conversely, it is possible that a balanced diet contributes towards maintaining or restoring the bacterial flora and helps fight frailty. A group of researchers sought to find out whether this is the case, focusing specifically on the (sidenote: Mediterranean diet Rich in fruit, vegetables, cereals, oilseeds (nuts) and fish, and low in red meat, saturated fats and dairy products. Lăcătușu CM, Grigorescu ED, Floria M, et al. The Mediterranean Diet: From an Environment-Driven Food Culture to an Emerging Medical Prescription. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019 Mar 15;16(6):942. ) .

“Good” bacteria associated with “good” ageing

The Mediterranean diet is the “ultimate” healthy diet, and offers many benefits, including reduced inflammation, lower risk of disease and lower mortality. According to numerous studies, it is also associated with changes in the gut microbiota. The researchers therefore analyzed the gut microbiota of approximately 600 individuals aged between 65 and 79 years who showed few or no signs of frailty. This was done before and after the subjects had followed a normal diet or a Mediterranean diet for one year. With the Mediterranean diet, the gut microbiota remained diverse (associated with good health) and the number of “good” bacteria (associated with decreased frailty, improved brain function and reduced inflammation) increased. The researchers also observed improved memory, increased walking speed and increased strength in participants’ hands.

Bacteria to protect against frailty?

These results confirm the benefits of Mediterranean diet for the elderly, and reveal that part of these benefits is directly linked to changes in the gut microbiota. The results therefore open up new avenues for the prevention of frailty among people at risk, based on direct administration of the “good” bacteria identified in the study.


Recommended by our community

"Absolutely, aging gracefully often starts from within! A balanced diet rich in nutrients, especially those supporting gut health, can play a pivotal role in overall well-being as we age. It's never too late to embrace healthy eating habits for a vibrant and active life. Cheers to health and longevity!" -Aware Health Rewards App (From My health, my microbiota)


"Of Course!!" -Mary Mac (From My health, my microbiota)


"Most definitely! You are what you eat 😉!" -Eva Antal II (From My health, my microbiota)

Old sources


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. Gut 2020;0:1–11. 

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