Just a handful of fruits and vegies daily can beat the effects of ageing

Just a handful of fruits and vegetables daily can dramatically lower your risk of developing frailty in older age.

Not just a negative descriptor, frailty is defined as “multidimensional geriatric syndrome characterised by a decline of physical and cognitive reserves that leads to increased vulnerability”. It affects around 10 to 15 per cent of older people.

Frailty increases with age and is associated with falls, longer stays in hospital, difficulty recovering from illness and surgery, and mortality.

In a recent study, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers assessed whether regularly consuming dietary flavonols has any impact on the likelihood of developing frailty – and found some surprising results.

Flavonols are a sub-class of flavonoids, which are natural chemical compounds found in fruits and vegetables. They are rich in antioxidants and have previously been found to help manage symptoms of cardiovascular disease. The most common flavonols are quercetin, kaempferol, myricetin and fisetin.

They are most typically found in lettuce, onions, kale, tomatoes, berries, peaches and grapes, as well as red wine and tea. Flavonols are also available in supplement form from healthfood stores.

Flavonoids and flavonols work to reduce inflammation and frailty development by mitigating the accumulation of oxidative stress­ (a condition in which your body can’t expel toxins) and targeting the reduction of age-related senescent cells (cells that won’t die).

The researchers conducted a meta-analysis of several studies and found that regular consumption of flavonols, particularly quercetin, may reduce the risk of frailty onset by 50 to 70 per cent.

They examined a total of 1701 individuals, with an average age of 58.4 years, with 55.5 per cent women and 45.5 per cent men and followed-up over a 12-year period.

Average daily intake of flavonols was 13.6mg and the mean daily quercetin intake was around 9mg.

During the follow-up period, 224 people developed frailty. The researchers noted a 3 per cent decrease in the odds of frailty onset for every 50mg/day increase in flavonoids (any class)

But zeroing in on flavonols revealed an even bigger correlation. Each 10mg/day increase of flavonols reduced the risk of frailty by 20 per cent.

And by increasing quercetin intake in particular, which can also be found in citrus fruits, apples and olive oil, the researchers saw a 35 per cent risk reduction with each 10mg/day increase.

The study suggests dietary flavonols and quercetin may effectively prevent the onset of frailty.

The authors hope the results can be used to further explore the use of flavonols, and quercetin in particular, as an early prevention method for frailty.

How often do you eat fresh fruit and vegetables? Do you think you could get some more in? Let us know in the comments section below.

Also read: Spicing up your food might be the key to winter wellness

Brad Lockyer
Brad Lockyerhttps://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/author/bradlockyer/
Brad has deep knowledge of retirement income, including Age Pension and other government entitlements, as well as health, money and lifestyle issues facing older Australians. Keen interests in current affairs, politics, sport and entertainment. Digital media professional with more than 10 years experience in the industry.
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