Research shows that dairy plays a key role in ageing healthily, as revealed in a preliminary report published today.
The UK population is ageing and age-related malnutrition has become a growing public health concern. The research shows that dairy consumption, and the nutrients in dairy, were associated with less muscle loss and decreased frailty in older people.
The report, Dairy & Healthy Ageing, which addresses the role of nutrition in supporting health throughout the life course, will be launched by The Dairy Council at the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel this evening as part of a wider compendium on dairy and health that will be published later this year.
Whilst it is an area that requires further research, initial studies show that the high quality protein in dairy foods can help to preserve muscle mass and reduce the risk of frailty in older people.
Dr Anne Mullen, Director of Nutrition at The Dairy Council, said: "Prevention is always better than cure and with the UK's ageing population becoming a more serious public health concern, we need to be aware of how our diets can help us as we get older.
"No other food is able to provide the same amount of calcium as dairy, and therefore it is critical that dairy is part of our diet as we grow older to ensure our bones remain strong. Bone diseases contribute significantly to a reduced quality of life and therefore we need to look further into how our diet can help to slow the effect of the ageing process on our bodies.
"Dairy foods are also nutrient-rich sources of high quality protein which is essential to avoid the loss of lean muscle tissue in older people. Protein quality is an underappreciated aspect of protein recommendations for older people and this is something that should receive greater attention.
"I would like to thank all of our expert writers who have contributed to this report to identify the role of nutrition in optimising health and mitigating the decline in muscle and bone mass. Although further work is required in the field, the report demonstrates that dairy matters at all stages of life."
The report will be part of a series of chapters on dairy and healthy ageing which will be published later this year. The compendium will also feature papers from experts on recent projects commissioned by The Dairy Council, and supported by AHDB dairy, on saturated fat, dairy and cardiometabolic health and obesity.