A glass of milk, two slices of cheese and 200 grams of yoghurt was enough to reduce the risk of fractures among seniors by 33 per cent, an Australian report said.
“It’s not a lot,” said Dr. Sandra Iuliano. “But it’s enough to significantly reduce the numbers of falls and fractures in an aged care population.”
A two-year trial with 7,195 residents in aged-care facilities compared half with a good protein, milk-including, diet with another half who ate the regular fare.
It’s almost shocking that this was the first study to test the impact on the risk of fractures and falls in older adults by providing additional calcium and protein through dairy foods, said the research team at the University of Melbourne.
“Even we were quite surprised,” said Dr Iuliano.
“What we observed is that all but one of the fractures (of residents involved in the study) happened from falls.”
Previous research, led by Dr Iuliano, across 21 aged care facilities in Melbourne found that 68 per cent of residents were malnourished or at risk of malnutrition.
“By assessing what people were actually eating we found that a major contributor to malnutrition is inadequate protein intake,” she said.
In that study the researchers found that aged care residents were typically given a daily average equivalent to just one serving of a high-protein food – such as lean meat, seafood, eggs, poultry and legumes – compared with a recommended two servings a day.
And in terms of dairy protein – milk, cheese, yoghurt – residents were “receiving the equivalent of just one serving a day, compared with a recommended four servings a day”.
Those on the good diet experienced a 33 per cent reduction in all fractures, a 46 per cent reduction in hip fractures, and an 11 per cent reduction in falls, with a significant reduction apparent between three and five months after the trial began.