Maybe you've already heard the buzz about the Mediterranean diet with people like model/actress Penélope Cruz and celebrity chef Rachael Ray promoting it. Though it may not seem like it Penélope Cruz is 43 and Rachael Ray is, outstandingly, 49. Are their eating habits to thank?

According to new research published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, a Mediterranean diet might be able to reduce your risk of frailty as an older adult. In fact, the oldest women in Europe followed a Mediterranean diet. But what exactly is a Mediterranean diet and how can it help?

What is a Mediterranean diet?

Essentially, a Mediterranean diet is one that is made up of primary plant-based foods including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts. This means reducing your intake of processed food, animal products, and unhealthy fats.

This diet is based on the traditional eating habits of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, hence the name. This includes countries such as France, Greece, Italy, and Spain.

How can a Mediterranean diet reduce frailty?

Low energy and weakness are almost expected as people age. There seems to be a higher likelihood of fractures, falling over, disability, dementia, and an overall decrease in the quality of life. However, the researchers have found that the Mediterranean diet can help maintain muscle strength and activity levels, even in older individuals.

They've suggested that nutrition plays a significant role in health concerns that may arise. The new research is based on an analysis of almost 6,000 people in four studies from France, Spain, Italy, and China. It was found the over a four year period, those who followed a more plant-based diet were less than half as likely to become frail compared to those that didn't.

How can you start a Mediterranean diet?

Despite the word "diet" in the name, going more plant-based doesn't have to be difficult or restricting. A few things you can do to get you started are listed below.

  • Go slow, add more healthy foods and remove unhealthy foods gradually.
  • Make replacements, for instance, swap your chips for nuts and processed meat for chickpeas.
  • Shop around the perimeter of your grocery store where you can find fresh produce and nuts.
  • Have vegetables and/or fruit with every meal, including snacks!
  • Do more research to solidify your understanding. This makes it easier to remind yourself why it's so important to stay healthy.

Hopefully, this new analysis will help kickstart your health journey.

Aside from helping you age better, previous research has also shown that a Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity, depression, and cancer. There seems like there's nothing to lose from giving it a good go!