One extra portion of dairy a day can help elderly avoid fractures

One extra portion of dairy a day can help elderly avoid fractures
© Cristina Gottardi via Unsplash

Adding one portion of dairy produce to the diets of elderly people can substantially reduce the chance of fractures, according to a large-scale study carried out in Australia.

As many developed nations have increasingly older populations, more and more elderly people are exposed to the diseases of age, including osteoporosis and other forms of bone degeneration.

The study looked at 7,195 elderly people in a large number of care institutions. The first conclusion was that a sizeable number were already malnourished at the outset of the study.

All of the participants were given enough extra dairy produce to bring their daily levels of calcium and protein up to the recommended levels. But not just any dairy: the study favoured milk, cheese and yogurt. Butter, cream and ice cream, on the other hand, were excluded on account of their low levels of calcium and protein.

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The result of the new dairy-rich diet was a substantial reduction in falls, and in the fractures that often result – 33% fewer fractures in general; 45% fewer hip fractures, and 11% fewer falls. The reduction in the number of accidents and injuries was maintained at the end of a six-month period.

The change in diet, the test team are at pains to point out, involved no calcium or protein supplements, but only whole milk and milk products.

"We conclude that our study shows that intervention in the diet of nursing home residents can have a significant impact on fracture prevention in aged care, possibly even in the wider community," said Dr Sandra Iuliano, who led the study.

The study is published in the British Medical Journal.

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