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Should You Remind Grandma to Eat Veggies?

Older people who eat veggies are less likely to become frail in the next few years. Getting adequate vitamins from the diet and staying active appear to fight frailty.

As people grow older, they sometimes become frail. A Spanish study suggests that elders who eat veggies are less likely to lose strength, slow down or lose weight (Age & Ageing, online July 25, 2018). Frailty was defined as three out of the following five conditions: unintentional weight loss of 10 pounds or more; weakness; exhaustion; little physical activity; and slow walking speed.

Seniors Who Eat Veggies Fight Frailty:

The researchers recruited more than 1,600 people who were at least 65 and healthy at the outset of the study. They answered detailed questions about their dietary patterns and were followed up for the next three and a half years. During that time, about 5 percent of them because frail.

Those who consumed the least vitamin B6 in their diets were nearly three times more likely to lose muscle than those who consumed the most. Foods like fish, chicken, sweet potatoes and tofu are rich in vitamin B6. Those who got less vitamin E in their meals were nearly twice as likely to become frail than those who ate good sources of the vitamin like almonds and sunflower seeds. Vitamin C found in broccoli or lemons was also protective. People whose diets provided at least the RDA for fewer than five vitamins were almost three times more likely to become frail than those getting the RDA of more than seven vitamins.

Prescription for Vitamins–Eat Veggies!

None of these volunteers were taking vitamin pills. The best way to get all these vitamins is to eat veggies. The investigators recommend a nutritious diet and continued physical activity to help ward off frailty.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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