Consuming enough dairy products, fruits and vegetables in your daily diet may lower the risk of disability, shows a new study.
Researchers say the findings are important because the number of disabled elderly is expected to triple between 1985 and 2050. Obesity, lack of physical exercise, alcohol consumption, and smoking are modifiable risk factors for disability, but little is known about the role of the diet.
Researchers examined data of about 16,000 participants between ages 45 and 64. They were asked to report their diets over a year. Then after an average of nine years, participants were asked to perform 12 daily activities. It was found that higher amounts of dairy, fruits and vegetables were associated with lower risk for functional limitations, such as being able to walk a quarter mile or climb 10 steps, that often precede disability.
The median servings for study participants consuming the highest amounts of foods were two servings of dairy, three servings of fruit, and three servings of vegetables. Current dietary recommendations call for three cups a day of low-fat or fat-free dairy products, two cups (four servings) of fruit, and two and a half cups (five servings) of vegetables.
In conclusion researchers say there are several ways foods could affect disability , calcium and vitamin D in dairy foods may decrease the risk of disability associated with osteoporosis and decreased muscle strength, antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables may reduce the accumulation of oxidative damage in tissues, which could slow disability associated with aging and decrease the risk of chronic diseases that can lead to disability.