Dairy seems to get a bad rap these days. As the popularity of anti-inflammatory diets rises, dairy seems to be the first thing people recommend you eliminate. But it shouldn't be.
I'm often asked if dairy foods cause inflammation. Actually, the opposite is true. Based on the body of science, dairy foods like milk, yogurt and cheese do not cause inflammation and can be a part of anti-inflammatory diets. They are also important as we age as a source of calcium, which helps keep bones strong.
A study published in Nutritional Epidemiology that ranked foods based on their inflammatory potential indicated that dairy foods, fruits and vegetables -- especially dark, leafy greens and deep orange vegetables -- tend to be anti-inflammatory.
When it comes to dairy specifically, a systematic review in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, funded by the National Dairy Council, evaluated 27 randomized control trials and found that dairy foods (i.e., milk, cheese and yogurt) and dairy proteins (i.e., whey, casein) have neutral to beneficial effects on inflammation.
Concern about inflammation isn't a valid reason to avoid dairy -- and as we age, we may benefit from fewer falls and fractures by including dairy in our diets.
A new study finds that increasing calcium and protein intake through dairy products reduced the risk for falls and fractures among older adults living in care homes by 33%. The results of the randomized controlled trial were published in the October 20, 2021, BMJ.
Sandra Iuliano and colleagues at the University of Melbourne led a 2-year cluster randomized controlled trial in residential care facilities in Australia. Twenty-seven facilities were randomized to provide residents with greater amounts of milk, yogurt and cheese that contained 562 milligrams of calcium and 12 grams of protein for a total daily intake of 1,142 milligrams of calcium and 69 grams of protein. An additional 29 facilities were included as controls, with residents consuming an average of 700 milligrams per day of calcium and 58 grams per day of protein.
Overall, 7,195 residents were enrolled in the study between December 2013 and August 2016. The mean age of residents was 86.7 years in the intervention group and 86.4 years in the control group.
At the beginning of the study, initial calcium and protein intakes were 689 milligrams and 57 grams per day, on average.
During the study, residents in the intervention cohort consumed 3.5 servings of dairy per day, while residents in the control group consumed fewer than 2 servings per day, on average. In a follow-up of the study, researchers identified 324 fractures, which occurred among 3.7% of residents in the intervention group and 5.2% of residents in the control group. This amounted to an estimated 33% reduced risk for fracture with increased dairy consumption.
The incidence of hip fracture was 1.3% in the intervention group and 2.4% in the control group, yielding a 46% reduced risk for hip fracture. The risk for falls was 57% in the intervention group and 62% in the control group, resulting in an 11% risk reduction.
"This nutritional intervention has widespread implications as a public health measure for fracture prevention in the aged care setting and potentially in the wider community," Iuliano and colleagues wrote.
Q and A
Q: Can eating whole grains help lower my chances of getting Type 2 diabetes?
A: Yes, according to a recent study by the University of Eastern Finland and the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare. The study, published in Nutrients, found that one serving of whole grains per day reduced the incidence of Type 2 diabetes when compared to those who did not eat whole grain foods daily. Whole grains include grains such as brown or wild rice, quinoa, oatmeal, whole wheat (in bread, crackers and pasta), farro, barley and teff. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 3 to 6 servings of whole grains per day.
Have you ever thought about using your slow cooker to make rolls? It works, and it gives exceptionally tender, pillowy rolls. Here's a recipe for slow-cooker honey whole wheat rolls to try. (And a bonus -- the whole wheat flour makes it a serving of whole grains). It's from Eating Well magazine.
SLOW-COOKER HONEY WHOLE WHEAT ROLLS
1 cup whole milk, warmed
4 tablespoons honey, divided
1 envelope active dry yeast (2.5 teaspoons)
5 tablespoons canola oil
1 large egg
2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
Combine milk, 1 tablespoon honey and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer. Set aside for 5 minutes. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons honey, oil, egg, whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour and salt to the yeast mixture. Mix on low speed with the dough hook or a wooden spoon until a smooth, elastic ball forms and pulls away from the sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface; divide into 12 pieces, about 2 1/2 ounces each. Roll each piece into a smooth ball. Line a 6-quart or larger slow cooker with a large piece of parchment paper (It's OK to pleat it slightly to get it over the bottom and part way up the sides); coat the paper with cooking spray. Add the rolls in a single layer. Cover and cook on high until the rolls are starting to brown around the edges and spring back lightly when touched, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Transfer the rolls to a wire rack and let cool slightly before serving warm. Makes 12 rolls.
Per serving: 226 calories; 7 grams protein; 34 grams carbohydrate; 8 grams fat (1 gram saturated); 18 milligrams cholesterol; 3 grams fiber; 7 grams total sugars (6 grams added); 114 milligrams sodium.
Charlyn Fargo is a registered dietitian with SIU Med School in Springfield, Illinois. For comments or questions, contact her at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @NutritionRD. To find out more about Charlyn Fargo and read features by other Creators writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators website at www.creators.com.