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Which Foods May Help Prevent Frailty?

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As we age, our body naturally loses a degree of bone strength and frailty, or weakness, becomes a more common issue.  A new study now shows how eating certain foods, including apples, may help keep frailty at bay and keep you feeling stronger as you get older.

A recent study in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at how certain foods containing quercetin, a specific subclass of flavonoids (compounds found naturally in many fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidant activity), affect frailty in older adults. Which foods may help prevent frailty? Per Caroline Daiker, attorney at Beck, Lenox & Stolzer Estate Planning and Elder Law, the good news is that most are common foods we all eat.

Prevention’s recent article, “Study Finds Certain Foods May Help Prevent Frailty,” reports that the study looked at 1,701 individuals who weren’t considered frail at the program’s start and had them fill out a self-questionnaire that assessed flavonoid intake. After 12 years, 13.2% of them had developed frailty. A common clinical syndrome in older adults increases the risk for poor health outcomes, including falls, incident disability, hospitalization and mortality.

Although total flavonoid intake wasn’t linked with frailty development, each 10 mg/day of higher flavonol intake was linked with 20% lower odds of frailty onset. More specifically, every 10 mg/day of higher quercetin intake was associated with 35% lower odds of frailty onset, while other subclasses of flavonoids showed no association.

Quercetin is a plant compound with antioxidant properties. It  is important for our health because they combat inflammation. Quercetin is found naturally in many foods we eat, including:

  • Asparagus
  • Yellow and green peppers
  • Cherries
  • Tomatoes
  • Apples
  • Red grapes
  • Kale
  • Citrus fruits
  • Berries
  • Tea
  • Broccoli
  • Olive oil
  • Capers
  • Parsley
  • Leafy vegetables

In addition to loading up on quercetin-rich foods, there are other things you can and should do to maintain your strength and lower your risk of frailty in your senior years. Add some protein-rich foods, low-sugar or plain low-fat yogurt, low-fat milk, beans, eggs, or chicken, to each meal and snack. You can incorporate a fitness routine that includes walking and resistance exercises.

People with strong social connections and who continue learning also have a lower risk of frailty. Therefore it’s essential to keep your mind sharp to keep your body strong.

While fruits and vegetables are a great way to get quercetin, some people may want to take a quercetin supplement. However, be sure to discuss taking a quercetin supplement with your doctor because there are some possible interactions between quercetin supplements and a number of drugs, including antibiotics, anticoagulants, chemotherapy, corticosteroids, cyclosporine, digoxin, fluoroquinolones and medications changed by the liver.

Reference: Prevention (May 28, 2023) “Study Finds Certain Foods May Help Prevent Frailty”

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