Are Dairy Products Healthy or Unhealthy for Seniors?

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Are Dairy Products Healthy or Unhealthy for the Elderly?

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Dairy products are an excellent source of calcium, which keeps bones healthy and strong as seniors age. However, lactose intolerance is increasingly common, and many seniors find they are more sensitive to dairy the older they get. Learn more about the health benefits and detriments of dairy. 

The Nutrients Found in Milk

Milk contains many nutrients important for senior health, such as calcium, vitamin D, riboflavin, potassium, phosphorus, and vitamin B12. Calcium and vitamin D are essential for senior women, who lose bone density after menopause. Studies suggest regular milk consumption can lower the risk of osteoporosis and fractures in the elderly. 

In addition to consuming nutrients, seniors with osteoporosis can reduce the risks of falls and fractures by receiving help from a professional caregiver. If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Home Care Assistance, an in-home care provider Sonoma County, California, families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

The Benefits of Dairy Fat

Milk contains fatty acids that promote overall health. When researchers studied the effects of a fatty acid known as trans-palmitoleic acid, they found that people who had more of the acid in their bloodstream had a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, less joint inflammation, increased sensitivity to insulin, and less belly fat. The most beneficial forms of dairy fat are found in full-fat dairy products, which suggests seniors should skip the low-fat options and drink full-fat milk in moderation. 

The Dangers of Unpasteurized Dairy 

Seniors should avoid unpasteurized milk and cheese, which are often touted as healthy, as they contain beneficial fats and minerals. However, these dairy products don’t undergo the pasteurization process, whereby they are heated at temperatures that kill bacteria, which means they can be breeding grounds for dangerous bacteria. While younger adults with healthy immune systems may not be affected by the bacteria in unpasteurized milk, seniors should be more careful. They should avoid unpasteurized milk and cheeses like blue cheese, chevre, and brie. 

The Relation Between Dairy and Cancer

Dairy promotes the release of hormones like insulin and IGF-1. While these hormones can be beneficial, as they help seniors stay strong and increase their muscle mass, they may also have detrimental effects. Though research results are varied and somewhat inconclusive, some studies suggest elevated levels of these hormones can increase the risk of prostate cancer. 

Focusing on a nutritious diet is just one of the many ways seniors can stave off cancer and other serious illnesses. Living with a serious health condition can make it challenging for seniors to age in place. However, they can maintain a higher quality of life with the help of professional live-in care. Sonoma County seniors can benefit from assistance with meal prep, bathing, transportation to the doctor’s office, medication reminders, and much more.

Facts About Lactose Intolerance

Lactose intolerance isn’t a true food allergy. People who are allergic to dairy are allergic to the protein casein, and consuming this protein causes a negative immune response. People with lactose intolerance, on the other hand, experience uncomfortable, non-immune symptoms when they consume more lactose than their bodies can tolerate. These symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating, and diarrhea. Seniors with lactose intolerance rarely need to cut out dairy entirely. They simply need to determine how much they can tolerate. Some seniors may be able to drink 4 ounces of milk a day, while others may be able to drink 8. By finding and setting their limits, they can have the beneficial milk nutrients without the gastrointestinal effects.

Caring for a senior loved one and finding the right dairy products for him or her can be a challenging task. Families who find it difficult to care for their aging loved ones without assistance can benefit greatly from professional respite care. Sonoma County, CA, family caregivers who need a break from their caregiving duties can turn to Home Care Assistance. Using our proprietary Balanced Care Method, our respite caregivers can encourage your loved one to eat well, exercise regularly, get plenty of mental and social stimulation, and focus on other lifestyle factors that promote longevity. To schedule a free in-home consultation, call us at (707) 843.4368 today.