Milk, Fruits and Vegetables Help Reduce Disability -- MEDICA - World Forum for Medicine

The research done at the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center found that black women who consumed the highest amounts of dairy products and fruits and vegetables - close to the amounts recommended by the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans - had at least a 30 percent lower risk of disability than participants who consumed the lowest amounts of these foods.

"Getting the recommended number of servings of dairy, fruits and vegetables should be investigated for its potential to reduce the prevalence of disability in the aging population,” said Denise Houston, Ph.D., a research associate at Wake Forest Baptist.

"We know that obesity, lack of physical exercise, alcohol consumption and smoking are modifiable risk factors for disability, but little is known about the role of diet,” said Houston.

The researchers believe this is the first study to report on an association between disability and eating certain foods. For the project, they evaluated data from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study, which included about 16,000 randomly selected participants.

The study adjusted for other factors that could have affected the results - such as age, education, smoking, and body mass index - and found that higher amounts of dairy, fruits and vegetables were associated with lower risk of functional limitations. Among black women, risk of disability was significantly lower.

Houston said there are several ways that the foods could affect disability risk. The calcium and vitamin D in dairy foods may decrease the risk of disability associated with osteoporosis and decreased muscle strength.

The 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.; Source: Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center