Increased Antioxidant Intake Associated with Lower Risk of Frailty

Looking for healthy aging tips? The latest research shows getting sufficient antioxidants decreases your risk of frailty.

Study on Frailty in Elderly Japanese Women

This was the problem posed to a group of public health students at the University of Tokyo. They collected the data from 2,121 elderly Japanese women, many of whom were family or friends of the students. The study involved collecting data about the women's dietary history, in particular the total antioxidant capacity of their overall diet.

The antioxidant value of each food was assigned to one of four groups as a means of measuring its antioxidant capacity:

  • Ferric reducing ability of plasma
  • Oxygen radical absorption capacity
  • Trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity
  • Total free radical-trapping antioxidant parameters

This was compared in the study with the general frailty of the participants who were all aged 65 or older. Frailty was measured (on a 2-point system) with the presence of three of more of the following components:

  • Slowness and weakness
  • Low physical activity
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Exhaustion

Of the 2,121 participants, 486 were designated as frail, which was 23% of the group. There was an inverse association between the presence of frailty and a diet high in total antioxidants.

The study showed that those who had a diet high in green tea, coffee, vegetables and fruits (which are all high in antioxidants) were less likely to have the symptoms of frailty than those who had a diet low in antioxidants.

Related: Beware of Foods that Accelerate Aging

The study further broke down the results to show that although total antioxidant intake was important, antioxidants sourced from green tea were significantly more effective than antioxidants derived from vegetables.

What is Frailty?

Frailty is a condition rather than a disease. The term is generally used to describe someone elderly who may have poor muscle strength, slow walking speed, low physical activity and general lack of energy.

As the population continues to live longer, studies on frailty and the means to prevent it are high on the agenda for many medical institutions and societies.

Some studies have shown that those who live on a Mediterranean diet high in olive oil, tomatoes, vegetables, fish and red wine (which are all high in antioxidants) appear to have a lower risk of developing symptoms of frailty in older age than those who have a low intake of antioxidants.

Antioxidants are important as they neutralize the damaging free radicals that are created in the body through everyday functions such as breathing, eating and exercise. These harmful molecules with unpaired electrons are thought to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's disease, cancer and general symptoms of frailty if they are left un-neutralized.

Important Antioxidants to Consider

If you want to increase your antioxidant intake you need to eat more foods containing antioxidants, or take regular supplements of ascorbic acid (vitamin C), carotenoids (vitamin A ), curcumin, polyphenols, resveratrol, selenium, tocopherols (vitamin E) and ubiquinone (co-Q 10).

According to studies, this simple adjustment in your lifestyle could make a huge difference to your quality of life as you age.

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