14.04.2024

An apple a day really DOES keep the doctor away

An apple a day keeps the frailty away, according to a study. Research suggests eating foods that contain certain dietary compounds — such as blackberries and apples — can lower your chances of becoming weak and delicate in older age.

Known as flavonols, these have been linked to a variety of health benefits, and are found in a range of fruit and vegetables.

To investigate a possible link between flavonols and frailty — which affects 10 per cent of adults over the age of 65 — researchers analysed the diets and frailty status of 1,701 people for 12 years.

Over the study period, 13.2 per cent of participants developed frailty. Analysis revealed that for every extra 10mg of flavonols people ate per day — about the same amount as a medium-sized apple — the odds of developing frailty were reduced by 20 per cent.

Research suggests eating foods that contain certain dietary compounds — such as blackberries and apples — can lower your chances of becoming weak and delicate in older age

Research suggests eating foods that contain certain dietary compounds - such as blackberries and apples - can lower your chances of becoming weak and delicate in older age

Blackberries and apples can lower your chances of becoming weak at old age

Blackberries and apples can lower your chances of becoming weak at old age

One type of flavonol in particular, called quercetin, had the strongest link with frailty prevention, the team said.

This is primarily found in the likes of apples, dark berries, citrus fruits, onions, parsley and sage.

‘There may be some validity to the old saying, an apple a day keeps the doctor — or frailty — away,’ the researchers said.

Co-author Dr Shivani Sahni, from Harvard Medical School in Boston, said: ‘Higher quercetin intake was the flavonoid that had the strongest association with frailty prevention.

‘This data suggests that there may be particular subclasses of flavonoids that have the most potential as a dietary strategy for frailty prevention.’

According to Age UK,’frailty’ refers to a person’s mental and physical resilience, or their ability to bounce back and recover from events like illness and injury.

Being frail means a relatively ‘minor’ health problem, such as a urinary tract infection, can have a severe long-term impact on someone’s health and wellbeing.

It is generally characterised by issues like reduced muscle strength and fatigue, and can affect up to 50 per cent of people over the age of 85.

Experts recommend regular exercise — such as resistance and weight training — to prevent and reduce frailty, as well as a healthy diet.

The findings were published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

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