Counteracting inflammation and insulin resistance with diet and exercise: A strategy for frailty prevention?

G. Zuliani, C. Soavi, M. Maggio, F. De Vita, A. Cherubini, S. Volpato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Frailty is a condition of increased vulnerability to cope with stressors, predisposing to the development of disability in basic and instrumental activities of daily living, falling, institutionalization and finally death. It is characterized by the loss of functional reserve in multiple domains resulting in a reduced tolerance to common external stresses. The pathogenetic steps conducting to frailty are not completely clear, but there is increasing evidence of a crucial role of insulin resistance and systemic inflammation in the development of frailty, disability, and related medical conditions. These two conditions may act directly, through a negative impact on homeostatic regulation and cross-systems compensation, or indirectly, by the effect of several diseases strongly related to frailty. Therefore, counteracting insulin resistance and systemic inflammation could be a powerful way to prevent the development of frailty and/or of its adverse outcomes. In this framework, diet and physical exercise may represent two important weapons in the prevention of frailty; indeed, current literature supports the effectiveness of a correct lifestyle based on a healthy diet (Mediterranean type diet) and regular physical exercise on frailty primary prevention. Studies on secondary prevention of frailty suggest that multi-component and resistance training, together with adequate energy and protein intake, might be helpful although data are still lacking. The efficacy of dietary supplementation in secondary prevention of frailty, albeit promising, remains to be confirmed in large clinical trials.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)220-231
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Geriatric Medicine
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2015


  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Frailty
  • Inflammation
  • Insulin resistance
  • Nutritional supplementation
  • Physical activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Gerontology


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