Leading Finnish dairy company Valio collaborated with top nutritional scientists in a new study about the effects of MFGM and milk protein on the physical functioning of the elderly. The results show significant improvement in balance and physical performance even without an exercise intervention.
This study is among the first conducted in Europe on the benefits of partially hydrolyzed, high-protein milk products rich in MFGM when introduced to a regular everyday diet instead of through dietary supplements.
Separating the benefits of nutrition and exercise
We wanted to separate the effects of nutrition, specifically MFGM, from exercise, which has been a component in most, if not all of the previous studies conducted in this particular field.”
Anu Turpeinen, PhD, Nutrition Research Manager, Valio
The study followed 101 Finnish women, aged 70 or over, for 12 weeks. The group was divided into an intervention group (n=51) and a control group (n=50). The studied women were all able to move independently but showed some signs of sarcopenia or slight deficits in physical functioning in the baseline tests.
The intervention group was given a powder or a ready-to-drink product that contained 23 g hydrolyzed protein and 3 g MFGM, for daily consumption. The products were made using Valio buttermilk concentrate. To rule out the effect of exercise, both groups were given the same minimal exercise guidance.
Physical functioning was then tested for both groups by measuring hand grip strength and SPPB (short physical performance battery), which includes testing balance, walking speed, and the ability to rise from a chair unaided. Both groups were tested twice, at baseline and the end of the study.
Results indicate that combining MFGM and milk protein may improve physical performance
The results showed significant improvements in physical functioning among the participants, especially in the balance and the SPPB total scores.
Another notable difference was that the protein intake increased significantly in the intervention group from 0,9 to 1,1 g/kg body weight. There were no significant changes in the energy intake or the participants’ weight during the study.
The participants thought that the ready-to-drink protein shake was delicious and easy to use and that it may have helped them feel less hungry and have fewer sweet cravings.
“Next, we are planning a second study that focuses on the possible cognitive benefits on elderly individuals with issues in cognitive functioning,” Turpeinen concludes.
Why hydrolyzed protein?
- Absorbed more efficiently than intact protein in elderly
- Causes fewer gastrointestinal problems in sensitive individuals
What is the milk fat globule membrane (MFGM)?
- A unique component of cow’s milk fat, not found in vegetable oils
- Contains complex lipids, such as phospholipids, necessary for the brain and nervous system and stimulate neuromuscular function
- Shown to have benefits on physical function in earlier studies with seniors