N° 83 | November 2013

« FRUIT & VEGETABLES INTAKE IN OLDER ADULTS »

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Editorial

Nutrition and physical activity (PA) play a central role in healthy aging and the prevention of chronic illness, especially cardiovascular diseases. As part of our lifestyle choices, nutrition and PA can be changed and should therefore form an essential part of prevention policies directed towards the elderly.

Fruit and vegetables (F&V) contain many antioxidants such as carotenoids, polyphenols and vitamin C that may act as a protectant against various diseases. Lo and al have shown in a prospective study conducted in Taiwan among people 65+ years, that higher F&V consumption was predictive of higher survival rates. Aging is associated with a weakened immune function and a higher risk of infectious diseases, which is even higher in a context of poor nutritional status. Gibson and al have shown that increased F&V consumption (five portions versus two portions) may improve the response to anti-pneumococcal c vaccination in elderly people aged 65-85 years after 16 weeks. These results are very encouraging for the prevention of lower pulmonary infectious diseases with pneumococcal that commonly affect the elderly.

The amount of time devoted to physical activity declines with age, and an excessively sedentary lifestyle is linked with an increased incidence of chronic disease, frailty and disability. It has been shown that combining nutritional balance and physical activity can help improve health outcomes in the elderly. Sodergreen and al have recently demonstrated that one additional serving of F&V, or a 15-minute brisk walk improves the reporting of good health among older adults.

Recent research and earlier data alike suggest that an increase in F&V intake is associated with lower morbi-mortality rates and improved well-being. Together with physical activity, a higher fruit and vegetable intake can help achieve healthier aging. It should be strongly encouraged.

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