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Dairy Consumption Linked With Better Body Mass, Physical Functioning

As we age, our body mass deteriorates and we start to lose some of our strength. A recent study suggests that mature women who consume more than two servings a day of dairy may have greater body mass and physical functioning when compared with their peers who consume less dairy.

Participants in the study included 1,456 women between the ages of 70 and 85. The researchers determined how much dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese) they consumed by administering food frequency questionnaires. The researchers then placed the women into one of three categories:

1. less than 1.5 servings of dairy daily;

2. between 1.5 and 2.2 servings daily;

3. more than 2.2 servings daily.

Body composition was measured using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry. Physical performance was via hand-grip strength and Timed Up and Go tests. In addition, the researchers collected data regarding how often the women had fallen during the previous three months.

The researchers found that the women who consumed the most dairy had significantly higher whole body lean mass and skeletal muscle mass than those who consumed the least. Additionally, the women who consumed the most dairy had greater hand-grip strength and were 26% less likely to have a bad score on the Timed Up and Go test.

The participants with higher dairy intake reported fewer falls than those with low dairy intake. However, the difference was not statistically significant.

Researchers from various Australian institutions conducted the study. It was published online ahead of print on July 19, 2013, in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Dairy consumption has also been linked to bone health, diabetes prevention, weight loss, and improved mental function. If you’re looking to add more dairy to your diet, you may want to stick to the low-fat dairy products as the high fat content of whole milk products could negatively affect other areas of the body.

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