Rx Nutrition Resource Center

Rx Nutrition Resource Center

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
October 23, 2020
1 min read

Mediterranean diet linked to lower inflammation in older adults

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
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The Mediterranean diet was associated with lower inflammation in older adults, a recent analysis showed.

According to researchers, Mediterranean diet followers eat high amounts of monounsaturated fatty acids, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and fish; moderate amounts of dairy products, meats and wine; and limited amounts of saturated fatty acids.

Mediterranean Diet
Older adults who followed the Mediterranean diet pattern had lower inflammation rates, according to researchers. Photo source: Adobe Stock

Kuei-Min Chen, PhD, RN, FAAN, a professor in the College of Nursing at Kaohsiung Medical University in Taiwan, and colleagues conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to explore the association between “the Mediterranean dietary pattern” and inflammation in older adults.

Kuei-Min Chen

"Different studies address Mediterranean diet differently," Chen told Healio Primary Care. "Therefore, we use the term ‘Mediterranean dietary pattern’ to reflect the most consensus use of the term among different studies.”

Their review included eight cross-sectional studies, three randomized controlled trials, one quasi-experimental study, and one cohort study. Five of the cross-sectional studies were included in the meta-analysis. These studies included more than 15,000 participants aged 60 years and older; all but one study was conducted in the United States or Europe and most of the participants were women. Previous studies had primarily focused on younger adults, according to the researchers.

“The studies with participants older than 65 years showed the prevalence of inflammation between 33% and 50%,” Chen said. “All of these studies used [C-reactive protein] as an inflammatory indicator; however, the definition of inflammation varied.”

According to the researchers:

  • An inverse association existed between the Mediterranean dietary pattern and inflammation with C-reactive protein concentrations.
  • Greater adherence to the Mediterranean dietary pattern led to lower C-reactive protein and interleukin-6 levels.
  • Consumption of monounsaturated fatty acids or olive oil resulted in a significant reduction in C-reactive protein levels.

The researchers said that the anti-inflammatory mechanism of monounsaturated fatty acids is unknown and warrants further investigation.

“Inflammation plays an important role in age-related disease in older adults, such as sarcopenia and frailty, especially low-grade inflammation. Inflammation also contributes to chronic disease in older adults,” Chen said. Therefore, “the Mediterranean dietary pattern should be included in the health education for older patients or clients by professions in their clinical practice.”