Mediterranean Diet not High in Dairy Products
Interestingly the Mediterranean diet which is not very high in dairy products, except for yogurt and feta and Bulgarian cheeses, was associated with fewer hip fractures in a recent study. For years post-menopausal women were encouraged to eat a diet high in dairy products and to take a calcium and Vitamin D supplement. Recent studies have shown that these recommendations did not bear fruit and were not able to lower the rate of hip fractures.
Hip Fractures are a Leading Cause of Disability and Early Death in Seniors
Hip fractures are a leading cause of disability in seniors, mainly women, and they also have a very high mortality rate in the first year following the fracture. Hip fractures can suddenly lead to a very bad quality of life for many seniors, who until the fracture were more or less managing. Other seniors, especially those suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s, have a high rate of unintentional falls, whether they are living in the community or in residential treatment centers, and many of these falls also lead to hip fractures.
The Women’s Health Initiative
Participants in the study were from both Europe and the United States and included 140,775 adults (116,176 women, 24,599 men) 60 years and older.
A similar study examined data from more than 90,000 US Women in the Women’s Health Initiative Study.
Both studies showed a lower risk for hip fractures among seniors following a Mediterranean diet.
Physical Exercise also Beneficial
The researchers of the study take a cautious attitude in jumping to conclusions, noting that women who eat well and are more conscious of good nutrition also tend to get more exercise, which also has been shown to lower the risk for hip fractures and osteoporosis.
Mediterranean Diet or Lifestyle
While there is much talk of a Mediterranean diet, the research that led to this was done mainly in the 1950s at a time when men went out to work and in the Mediterranean countries this was very likely to be physical work. Women were homemakers, tending to the children, the cooking, etc. which is also mainly physical work. Also, they ate home-made whole grain breads, lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and very little meat, mainly because meat was very expensive. It turned out that eating a diet high in fish was much healthier. Likewise, they ate feta or Bulgarian cheeses made from goat’s milk because goats and sheep were more plentiful than cows in those countries.
Stuffed grapevine leaves are also very popular in all the Mediterranean and Balkan countries. They are stuffed with rice or cracked wheat and sometimes ground meat, which at one time was usually lamb. Every part of the grapevine has scientifically been proven to have very beneficial health properties including the grapes, the grape seeds, the leaves and the grape juice or wine.
Also, these people did not generally go out boozing after work, but came home to their families. They occasionally drank only wine in small amounts and only during meals.
Even though the evidence that a Mediterranean Diet can prevent hip fractures has not been 100% scientifically proven, the Mediterranean Diet has been scientifically proven to lower the risk for heart disease, strokes, liver disease, dementia and Alzheimer’s and other chronic diseases common to seniors and aging. It is worthwhile for seniors to try to make lifestyle changes by drinking less or no alcohol, quitting smoking, following a diet high in fruits and berries, vegetables, nuts, seeds, oily fish, whole grains and extra virgin olive oil as the only oil and fat. Last but not least, seniors should be getting plenty of physical exercise which does not have to be strenuous.