Kids are often instructed to drink cow’s milk to develop strong muscles and healthy bones.
Adults should be following the same advice—especially older ones.
New research shows that the simple step of serving more dairy to people in nursing homes effectively lowers the rate of falls and fractures.
People living in these settings often consume low levels of calcium and protein, which significantly impacts bone health. And it’s not like this is a problem that is exclusive to folks living in nursing homes. Older independent individuals don’t get a lot of these nutrients either.
Including more dairy, which is rich in both calcium and protein, can help build bone and muscle to reduce the chance of a fall and bone breaks. Milk, cheese, and yogurt are all easily accessible options.
The study found that people hitting the daily targets of each nutrient—1,300 milligrams (mg) of calcium per day and 1.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight—had a 33 percent lower risk for all fractures, 46 percent lower risk for hip fractures, and an 11 percent lower risk for falls.
Further, the study’s authors said the results were like drugs being tested to increase bone strength in people with osteoporosis. I’m sure a glass of milk and a bowl of yogurt is a lot more attractive to most people.
So if you’re not eating enough protein or calcium or are concerned about bone strength, dairy seems like a great way to help. Calcium contributes to bone density, and protein helps build muscle to protect joints.
Dairy can help make your body more resilient in maintaining balance and absorbing bumps along the way.
If you’re concerned about lactose, lactose-free dairy options exist that remain high in calcium and protein. There are also varieties of dairy, particularly hard cheeses like Swiss, that are naturally very low in lactose.