Scientists from Harvard and elsewhere found that eating yogurt and low-fat dairy foods may be linked to lower frailty in older people.
Nutrients, including protein, calcium, and fat may be linked to the risk of frailty, but the specific contributions from whole dairy foods remain unclear.
In the current study, researchers aimed to examine the associations between dairy intake (milk, yogurt, cheese, total (milk + yogurt + cheese), low-fat and high-fat dairy, and servings per week) and frailty in older people.
They used data from the Framingham Offspring Study. The participants were aged 33 to 86 years and were not frail at baseline (1998-2001).
All dairy intake (servings per week) was examined via a food questionnaire.
Frailty was defined as the presence of 3 or more components: unintentional weight loss, exhaustion, slowness (gait speed), weakness (grip strength), and low physical activity.
During more than 10 years of follow-up, among 2,550 non-frail people, 8.8% (2005-2008) and 13.5% (2011-2014) became frail.
The team found higher yogurt intake was linked to a decreased risk of frailty. Each additional serving of yogurt and low-fat dairy was linked to a much faster follow-up gait speed.
Dietary intakes of high-fat dairy were linked to an increased risk of frailty, but the effect was only borderline strong. No associations were found for other dairy foods.
After adjusting for health status, the associations of high-fat dairy and yogurt with frailty became not strong, although the magnitudes of the associations did not change.
The association between yogurt and gait speed decreased in magnitude after adjusting for health status.
Based on the findings, the researchers suggest that intakes of yogurt are modestly associated with reduced frailty and dietary intakes of high-fat dairy had a borderline association with increased risks of frailty.
Some dairy food intakes were modestly linked to follow-up gait speed. However, the effects were small, and the clinical importance of these associations needs to be examined.
The research was published in The Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and conducted by Anna C Siefkas et al.
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