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The Mediterranean diet has long been known to be beneficial for overall health, but recent research has now revealed that it may be even more beneficial to hospitalized elderly patients than previously thought. A new study published in The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging demonstrates that admitted elderly patients who do not follow a Mediterranean diet may benefit from a physical exercise program to prevent hospitalization-associated disability.
The study followed 109 elderly patients aged 75 years or older who were admitted to the Gregorio Marañón University Hospital. Researchers evaluated adherence to a Mediterranean dietary pattern, urinary polyphenol levels, functional status, and other health parameters at the time of admission and discharge.
The study found that patients who followed a Mediterranean diet had better overall health which was even further improved with a physical exercise program and health education interventions. The Editorial of the journal highlighted the fact that patients with poorer physical condition showed the most significant improvements in response to the exercise program and encourages further research.
Researchers observed that patients with a low adherence to the Mediterranean diet responded best to the exercise intervention, suggesting that the Mediterranean diet may act as an indicator of elderly patients with better responses to physical exercise. The study also concluded that if the factor of a Mediterranean diet is included among the variables assessed on hospital admission, some elderly patients may be able to avoid hospitalization-associated disability.
It is important for medical professionals to take into account all aspects of health, such as diet, when caring for elderly patients. By evaluating dietary pattern and adherence to a Mediterranean diet prior to hospitalization, we may be able to better identify and prevent potential risks of hospitalization-associated disability before it happens in the elderly