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Reverse Frailty: Anti-Inflammatory Diet & Exercise for Healthy Aging

Have you noticed that you’re less spry than you used to be? Do everyday tasks like descending stairs or showering seem to take you longer than they did a decade ago? Age-related deficits in normal function are referred to as frailty when there has been a significant reduction in muscle tone, stamina, balance, and general fitness.

The good news is that frailty can be reversed.

Anti-inflammatory nutrition and strategic exercise – when combined with regular consultations with an insightful medical doctor – can in some cases help reestablish health, including mental acuity and physical strength.

What Is Frailty?

The medical criteria for having frailty are:

  • slowness
  • low level of physical activity
  • weakness
  • easy exhaustion
  • poor endurance
  • and an unintentional loss of weight.

Some of these symptoms of frailty can be measured. For example:

  • slowness can be tested by determining how long it takes a person to walk 15 feet;
  • and grip strength can be tested to determine weakness.

However, a medical doctor may simply observe how a person’s genetic constitution is currently handling the environment in which they live.

If the doctor observes an increase in severity in 3 or more of the above characteristic criteria, the person can be diagnosed with frailty syndrome.

Reversing Frailty: Strategies for Healthy Aging and Vigorous Living

Having a positive attitude is invaluable after the age of fifty.

However, being positive doesn’t mean you have to hide from the natural cycles of the human lifespan or pretend that aging doesn’t exist.

In fact, it’s often better to face aging directly – to acknowledge it and plan for it.

A strong theory about frailty is that it’s caused by chronic inflammation.

Chronic inflammation is a complex process, but – in its simplest terms – it’s when the immune system becomes tired or confused. This leads to skin issues, muscle dysfunction, joint stiffness, anemia, or reduced heart function.

Chronic inflammation is increasingly common, and many people who have it don’t know it.

mature adult testing to see if he has increased frailty

Another likely contributor to frailty is hormonal imbalance, such as decreased estrogen in women and testosterone in men.

Not all elderly individuals will experience frailty. However, those who meet the criteria for frailty tend to have worse outcomes when faced with stress, such as surgery or a new illness.

Frailty is not only a physical phenomenon but also psychological. It’s associated with a decline in cognitive function and an increased risk of depression.

Finally, frailty can lead to increased falls, hospitalization, and mortality.

For all of these reasons, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your own overall vigor and periodically track your strength and speed to determine if it has improved or worsened.

Become Spry Again: How to Reverse Frailty

The longer you live, the greater your chances of having frailty.

Technically, frailty is supposed to be irreversible:

  • Some believe it can be slowed, but not solved.
  • However, there are those in the medical community who believe that when you focus on healing the body at the cellular level, overall health can be significantly improved.

Since chronic inflammation is cited as a main culprit in the development of frailty, adopting an anti-inflammatory lifestyle can be a wise strategy for improving outcomes.

Here are some of the crucial aspects of living an anti-inflammatory lifestyle. Discuss these with your own medical doctor to determine which might be a good fit for you.

Lessen Frailty By Eating an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

Consider eating an anti-inflammatory diet from this point forward. The specific eating plan varies from person to person based on genetics, but it’s essentially a diet that emphasizes vegetables, followed by smaller amounts of high-quality meats, fruits, and fermented foods.


Chris Kresser, M.S., L.Ac., is a nutritionist and clinician who emphasizes the significance of intelligent eating in influencing the aging process. “Our diet choices have an outsized impact on our overall health and longevity,” he says, noting that eating patterns impact genomic stability, telomere attrition, and other mechanisms related to aging.

Kresser highlights the importance of a nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory diet for promoting healthy aging, suggesting that optimal intake of certain nutrients can support genomic stability and potentially prevent further DNA damage (see sources at the end of this article).

Getting Consistent Exercise

Follow a consistent exercise program. An exercise program that is done consistently and emphasizes mobility – such as brisk walking, yoga, Pilates, or swimming – and some resistance training can increase muscle tone and bone density.

As you get older, you can’t have too much muscle. It is only helpful.

Lifespan expert Dr. Peter Attia criticizes mainstream medicine for its reactive approach to the diseases of aging, advocating instead for a personalized, proactive strategy for longevity. He says, “If you have the aspiration of kicking ass when you’re 85, you can’t afford to be average when you’re 50.”

To that end, Dr. Attia asserts that exercise is “the most potent longevity ‘drug'” available, highlighting that even a modest increase in weekly exercise, from zero to 90 minutes, can significantly reduce the risk of death from all causes by 14%. This showcases the remarkable benefits of incorporating regular exercise into one’s routine.

Science continues to identify interventions that can help reverse frailty in older adults.

A research study, titled “Building resilience and reversing frailty: a primary care intervention for older adults,” conducted a multi-center, randomized-controlled trial focusing on the effectiveness of an optimized exercise and dietary protein intervention:

  • This included a 3-month home-based exercise regimen emphasizing strength and dietary protein guidance at a rate of 1.2 g/kg/day.
  • The results indicated that the combination of exercises and dietary protein significantly reduced frailty levels and improved self-reported health in participants aged 65 and older.

Another scoping review synthesized evidence on the impact of frailty-related interventions in older adults, exploring multiple studies to determine which interventions resulted in frailty reversal:

  • This comprehensive review encompassed various types of interventions targeting frail older adults over 65 years, aiming to reduce, improve, manage, enhance, treat, or reverse frailty.
  • Often, these interventions involved ​exercise, dietary improvements, and nutritional supplementation.

It was determined that symptoms of frailty can indeed be reversed.

Decreasing Exposure to Environmental Toxins

Create a less toxic environment. Making the physical environments where you spend the most time healthier can be beneficial.

When there are fewer toxins in a room and better air quality, it means your body can instead direct its energies toward other high-priority matters, such as cell restoration.

Lessen Frailty By Sleeping Even Better

Improve your sleep quality. There are so many hacks that can help you sleep better. Low-dosage melatonin, ear plugs, an eye mask, a white-noise machine, better bedding, and more. Find solutions to help yourself sleep even better than you do right now.

Lessen Frailty By Improving Your Internal Dialogue

Redirect your internal dialogue. Thinking more positively will help.

Many people’s thoughts are repetitive and negative. This can be mentally exhausting and distract you from finding simple solutions to making everyday life better.

Learning to gently guide your inner dialogue to a more positive mindset can make a surprising difference – not only in improving life quality but also in physical health. Research indicates that a positive attitude about the aging process can boost health.

“When someone actually shifts their mindset from negative to positive, they gain 7.5 years of additional life, which is more additional life than if they actually stopped smoking at 50 or started exercising. We don’t talk about old-growth humans like we do old-growth redwoods, but the reality is we can grow holistically – moving from the playing field of the body to the playing fields of relational, soul, heart, and cultural intellect.”

–Chip Conley, Thought Leader on the Aging Process

Conquer Infirmity: Regain Strength & Live Vibrantly Over 50

It’s vital to address both physical and cognitive aspects of frailty in order to optimize your health outcomes as a mature adult.

Preventing and treating frailty can be done through consistent physical activity, an anti-inflammatory diet, avoiding socioeconomic and environmental stressors, and improving lifestyle habits.

Early identification and intervention are key to developing stamina and a higher quality of life for you as a mature adult. Regular check-ups and screenings for frailty can be done as part of your routine healthcare. As you become elderly, a team approach can be utilized – that might include a physician, a mental health counselor, a pharmacist, and an occupational or physical therapist.

Frailty is a complex syndrome that affects mature adults, characterized by a decline in physical, cognitive, and psychological function, which increases the risk of poor health outcomes.

However, early identification and interventions can prevent or slow down frailty.

Frailty is not an inevitable part of aging. As you age, many things can be done to maintain good health and quality of life.

Ultimately, it’s up to you and your healthcare providers to work together to prevent or treat frailty and facilitate healthy aging. Additionally, this entire website is loaded with actionable resources and scientific citations to help you thrive later in life.

Additional Sources on Reclaiming Vigor for Seniors:

Chronic Inflammation and Disease – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7147972/

Lowering Frailty Risk – https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/stay-strong-four-ways-to-beat-the-frailty-risk

Diagnosing “Failure to Thrive” in Older Adults – https://bmcgeriatr.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12877-020-1462-y

American Heart Association – Avoiding Frailty and Staying Strong – https://www.heart.org/en/news/2020/09/01/how-to-avoid-frailty-and-stay-strong-as-you-age

Health Benefits of Habitual Positive-Thinking Patterns – https://www.heartandstroke.ca/articles/how-optimism-benefits-your-health