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The relevance of nutrition for the concept of cognitive frailty

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Purpose of review

Physical and cognitive frailty are interrelated and synergistic syndromes more frequently seen in old age, which represent intermediate stages between aging successfully and disability. Poor nutrition is a fundamental determinant for both conditions, while various dietary components are proposed to prevent and/or improve them. This updated review discusses the possible influence of nutritional factors on cognitive frailty and its potential mediators.

Recent findings

Oxidative stress, low-grade systemic inflammation, neuroinflammation, and altered autophagy, all associated with obesity, metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance, are proposed mechanisms to explain the influence of nutrition on cognitive health. Even if no single food or supplement has definitively demonstrated to affect physical frailty and cognitive impairment, combining various dietary and lifestyle components in the Mediterranean dietary pattern has shown benefit.Summary

Cognitive frailty is a potential useful construct for the early detection of cognitive impairment and physical frailty, in order to implement timely interventions. Validation of this construct is eagerly needed. Nutritional status is a fundamental part of physical frailty, and potentially important in the prevention of cognitive decline. Identifying and treating protein/calorie and individual nutrients insufficiency is mandatory in all older adults. Conversely, overeating in middle age has been associated with cognitive decline in older age. A lifelong balance diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, combined with regular physical and mental exercise, is perhaps the best preventive strategy against cognitive decline in old age.
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Keywords: aging; cognition; frailty; inflammation; nutrition

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Geriatric Unit, Department of Internal Medicine and Geriatrics, University of Palermo, Palermo, Italy

Publication date: January 1, 2017

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