A recent article on the daily Rx reports that dairy products may play a role in preserving muscle mass says Power Brands, a leading beverage industry expert. The article ‘Got Dairy?’ reports that eating and drinking more dairy products may help protect the elderly from losing muscle mass. When you lose muscle mass, adds Power Brands, you are more prone to fractures and other similar injuries.
In actual fact, a current study found that older women who ate more dairy had greater physical performance and more muscle mass compared to woman who ate less dairy. The research was directed by Kun Zhu, PhD, in the Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes in Sir Charles Gardiner Hospital in Nedlands, Western Australia. There were 1,456 women between the ages of 70 and 85 that were tested. The researchers study involved examining the results of dairy intake and any association with physical performance and body composition.
The study involved measuring daily consumption using a food frequency survey. According to the daily Rx article, participants reported how much dairy they consumed in the last 12 months plus portion sizes. Dairy includes milk, cheese and yogurt, adds Power Brands.
The participants were then placed in one of three categories: more than 2.2 servings per day, 1.5 to 2.2 servings per day and less than 1.5 servings per day. In addition; height, body weight, BMI (body mass index) and body composition (lean and fat mass) measurements were taken. Rendering the daily Rx article, lean mass was categorized as the weight of everything in the body except for the weight of the head, bones and fat.
The researchers determined physical performance by measuring mobility (movement) and hand grip strength. Participants also reported the number of falls they had within the past three months. A participants smoking status and physical activity were also analyzed in the research.
The researchers found that women who had 1.5 or more servings of dairy per day had considerably greater skeletal muscle mass and whole body lean mass than women who had less than 1.5 servings per day. The researchers also found that hand grip strength was greater in women who had 2.2 servings of dairy a day compared to women who had less than 2.2 servings of dairy per day.
The study also concluded that there was no association between dairy intake and the amount of time it took to complete a mobility test. As well, there was no significant association found between dairy intake and number of falls.
Other Professional Input
Deborah Gordon, MD, a preventive medicine and nutrition expert not associated with the research told dailyRX, “There are a number of fascinating connections that appear in the details of this study”. Her conclusions are as follows:
- Women who consumed more dairy (712 grams or around 25 ounces) were quite different than the group of women who consumed the lowest amount of dairy (210 grams or about 7.4 ounces)
- Dairy lovers as a group ate more calories, fat and protein – the protein difference being primarily in dairy protein.
- Dairy lovers were less likely to drink regularly and engaged in significantly more physical activity than the dairy minimizers
Dr. Gordon explained that some degree of sarcopenia (muscle loss) is unavoidable with aging. However, Dr. Gordon added that the extent to which muscle loss can be minimized and possibly reversed is in correlation to how vigorous and energetic she is as she ages. Dr. Gordon concludes that the study suggests woman who have a healthy appetite and partake in regular physical activity are investing in their sturdiness as they aging.
Overall Conclusion on Study
Based on their findings, dairy may be connected to better physical performance and more lean mass in older women. For further reading you can find full details of the study online in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
For further reading of the daily Rx article, go to Got Dairy?, adds Power Brands.