By: Rachel Bonachea
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – October 27, 2021 – Promising new new research for fracture prevention in older adults was published this week in The BMJ. Researchers from the University of Melbourne saw that increased intake of dairy foods was associated with a 33% reduced risk of fracture in nursing home residents, after just six months. The results of this study suggest an easy, actionable way to help support the overall health and well-being of the 1.4 million Americans living in nursing homes, 400,000 of which reside in California.
Over 7,000 nursing home residents – in 60 nursing homes – took part in the randomized control trial over a period of two years. Half of the facilities continued with their regular menu, which averaged two servings of dairy each day. The other half increased dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt and skim milk powder) to 3.5 servings per day. In addition to a 33% reduction in overall fracture risk, the researchers also observed that patients who increased their intake of dairy had a 46% reduction in hip fractures and an 11% reduction in falls.
“Most Americans, including a majority of older adults, are not eating enough of the nutritious foods recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans to support health. It is important to ensure that all people, especially vulnerable populations like older adults, have access to nutritious, affordable and enjoyable foods,” says Ashley Rosales, RDN, Dairy Council of California’s Nutrition Science Officer. “This study reinforces that public health solutions to improve the health and well-being of older adults should include ways to increase high-quality, nutrient-rich foods like milk, cheese and yogurt.”
Dairy foods are known sources of important bone-friendly nutrients, which can play a role in healthy aging to offset muscle wasting and brittle bones associated with older age. Researchers suggest that part of the reason for the success of the trial is due to the unique “dairy matrix,” in which key nutrients interact to provide additional health benefits. For example, milk, cheese and yogurt may all work slightly differently to improve skeletal health as they all contain unique packages of nutrients and bioactive compounds that are bound together within complex delivery systems that cannot be found in any other food or supplement.
The California Dairy Research Foundation and Dairy Council of California, along with several other dairy science organizations from around the world, supported this project to collaborate internationally on a very promising project to improve human health and quality of life.
“Aging is an inevitable part of life that affects us all, and if we can figure out the best foods to consume to help protect us from life-changing accidents and injuries, then that seems like a big win for all of us,” notes Kevin Comerford, Ph.D., California Dairy Research Foundation’s Chief Science Officer. “Healthy aging, balance control and proper healing require more than just strong bones; they also require healthy soft tissues like muscles. While the study focused on the benefits of dairy calcium and protein for reducing the incidence of bone fractures, evidence continues to show how these nutrients and other protective compounds in dairy foods such as vitamin D, magnesium, phosphorus and probiotics in fermented products can play a role in maintaining optimal skeletal health – for bones and muscles.”
The California dairy community is committed to supporting healthier people and communities and a healthier planet. Funding research to find science-based solutions to improve human health is one way to achieve this goal, as well as providing researchers and health experts with opportunities to increase understanding around the nutrition and health value of dairy foods and sharing that information for public benefit.
For more information on the science behind the health benefits of dairy, visit HealthyEating.org.
Funding for the clinical trial came from Dairy Australia, California Dairy Research Foundation, National Dairy Council, Aarhus University Hospital and Danish Dairy Research Foundation, Fonterra Co-operative Group Ltd, Dutch Dairy Association, Dairy Council of California, Dairy Farmers of Canada, Centre National Interprofessionnel de l’Economie Laitiere, University of Melbourne, Austin Hospital Medical Research Foundation and Sir Edward Dunlop Medical Research Foundation.
About Dairy Council of California
For over a century, Dairy Council of California has empowered stakeholders, including educators, health professionals and community leaders, to elevate the health of children and families through the pursuit of lifelong healthy eating habits. Funded by California’s dairy farm families and local milk processors and under the guidance of California Department of Food and Agriculture, Dairy Council of California’s free science-based nutrition education resources, Mobile Dairy Classroom assemblies, training programs and online resources educate millions of students and families in California and throughout the United States. Learn more at HealthyEating.org.
About California Dairy Research Foundation
California Dairy Research Foundation is an independent nonprofit public benefit foundation whose mission is to lead and deliver the best research and science-based educational and outreach programs to support an innovative and sustainable California dairy industry. For more information about California Dairy Research Foundation and the research it supports, visit www.cdrf.org.
Rachel brings more than 15 years of public relations and marketing expertise to her role as Communications Program Manager.