Low-fat milk and yogurt consumption may help prevent frailty in aging, study finds

By Hal Conick

- Last updated on GMT

Milk could also prevent bone mass loss and has bioactive peptides that may work to decrease levels of blood pressure, a study says.
Milk could also prevent bone mass loss and has bioactive peptides that may work to decrease levels of blood pressure, a study says.

Related tags Nutrition

Consumption of low-fat milk and yogurt is associated with a decreased risk of frailty among the elderly, according to a recent study.

The study recommended protein supplementation for those who are aging, as it may also be able to help with walking speed and preventing unhealthy weight loss.

Increasing the consumption of low-fat yogurt and milk may need further studying to find its adverse impacts to health, but the study said it has been shown to help reduce levels of frailty.

Dr Alberto Lana of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences at the University of Oviedo in Spain told DairyReporter that low-fat milk could also protect against precursors of frailty in the elderly, such as cardiometabolic events.

“The biological mechanisms of the association are not entirely clear, but it seems reasonable to hypothesize that milk consumers become less frailty due to the effect of milk proteins and certain minerals, which could improve muscle and bone quality,​” he said.

What the study found

The study looked at the general population from the older cohort of the Study on Nutrition and Cardiovascular Risk in Spain.

Those researched for the study were 60 years and older and free of frailty at the outset of the study. Initial measurements were taken between 2008 and 2010 with a follow up in 2012.

In the follow-up, there were 134 new cases of frailty among the population.

Those who were consuming seven or more servings of low-fat milk or yogurt each week had a reduced chance for frailty than those who were consuming less than one serving per week.

This study also found participants who consumed seven or more servings of the low-fat dairy per week had less risk of slow-walking speed and weight loss.

Lana added that consumption of milk could also prevent bone mass loss and has bioactive peptides that may work to decrease levels of blood pressure.

It also may have anti-inflammatory effect and improve insulin sensitivity, but he said those who consume milk must be careful, as additional studies are needed on the ill-effects of excessive consumption of milk.

Why low-fat?

Saturated fatty acids are the difference maker in why low-fat is better for an aging population, Lana said, as low-fat milk can still give all the needed protein and minerals without the known harmful effects.

“Fat can also transport fat-soluble toxic from animals, as suggested by other researchers,”​ Lana noted. “Although it is also true that people who regularly consume low-fat milk are probably more worried about their health and have a global healthier diet."

"In any case, because of its suggested beneficial effect or because it makes people systematically think about performing healthier choices, it seems a good idea to consume low-fat milk.”

Lana said it is important to note that many of these effects would be in long-term health and that people should not expect to see immediate results.

Following a healthy diet during a prolonged period is necessary to see true positive results.

Source: Journal of the American Geriatrics Society doi: 10.1111/jgs.13626
Title: Dairy Consumption and Risk of Frailty in Older Adults: A Prospective Cohort Study
Authors: A Lana, F Rodriguez-Artalejo, E Lopez-Garcia

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