• Joan Rothchild Hardin

Low Fat Dairy & Parkinson's Disease

Source: Parkinson’s News Today

A recently published study led by Dr Katherine C. Hughes at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health provides evidence of a positive correlation between consumption of low-fat dairy products and risk of developing Parkinson’s, a serious autoimmune disease. Subjects who consumed three or more servings of low-fat dairy a day were found to have a 34% greater risk of developing Parkinson’s compared to those who consumed less than one serving a day.  Dr Hughes study is the largest analysis of dairy and Parkinson’s to date. (Hughes, 2017) & (Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, 2017) The researchers analyzed 25 years of data collected on 80,736 women participating in the Nurses’ Health Study and 48,610 men enrolled in the Health Professionals’ Follow-up Study. During the course of the study, 1,036 people developed Parkinson’s.

The researchers noted the  types of dairy products each person consumed, including milk, cream, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, butter, margarine and sherbet. No increased risk for Parkinson’s was found in people who consumed full-fat dairy (as whole milk).

When the researchers looked specifically at skim and low-fat milk consumption, they found a 39% greater risk of developing Parkinson’s compared to those who consumed less than one serving a week. Eating frozen yogurt and sherbet was also linked to a modest increased risk.  (American Academy of Neurology, 2017)

“While total dairy intake was not significantly associated with PD risk in our cohorts, intake of low-fat dairy foods was associated with PD risk…. This association appeared to be driven by an increased risk of PD associated with skim and low-fat milk.” (Hughes, 2017)

So what could account for this increased risk for developing Parkinson’s and consumption of skim and low-fat milk? WHY FULL FAT DAIRY IS HEALTHIER THAN LOW & NON-FAT

For decades we’ve been told to avoid full fat dairy in favor of low and non-fat options – to the great detriment of our health.

Our bodies need a high percentage of fat to survive and thrive. This means we need to eat healthy fats, not low or no-fat processed foods.

A study published last year in the journal Circulation sheds light on one example of this need for adequate fat intake. It concerned the consumption of dairy fat and risk of diabetes.

The study’s researchers tested the hypothesis that the higher the amount of circulating fatty acid bio-markers of dairy fat, the  lower the  incidence of diabetes mellitus.

Results showed that people with the highest circulating bio-markers of full-fat dairy products had a 46% lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes compared to people who consumed less full-fat dairy. This was a big, well-designed  study of over 3,300 people. (Axe, 2017A) & (Yakoob et al, 2016)


Many seriously adverse effects result from consuming a low or no-fat diet. This information is from Dr Josh Axe. (Axe, 2017B)

Poor Brain Function

Our brains consist largely of fat and need a steady supply of fatty acids to perform well. Adequate cholesterol, in particular, is essential for good brain functioning and avoiding ‘brain fog’.

Research findings are clear that people having the highest cholesterol level intakes perform better than those with lower levels on cognitive function tests measuring abstract reasoning, attention/concentration, word fluency, and executive functioning.

Compromised Heart Health

Heart disease is the result of chronic inflammation in the body (the root of most diseases), not a result of high fat or cholesterol intake. An inflammatory diet of sugar, refined carbs, low-quality proteins, and processed vegetable oils will make you sicker than a diet high in fat intake – even saturated fats.

Furthermore, a strong relationship between cholesterol levels and heart disease has never been proven and the idea that they’re related is apparently based on faulty data. In fact, eating anti-inflammatory foods containing healthy fats is good for your heart.

Source: Coconut Oil

Hormone Imbalances (Including Testosterone and Estrogen)

Consuming enough healthy fats is an important way to balance your hormones naturally. Cholesterol and other fats play an essential part in building cellular membranes and hormones. Many fats, including cholesterol, serve as anti-oxidants and precursors to important brain-supporting molecules and neurotransmitters.

A low-fat diet can cause infertility and menstrual problems in women. A 2007 study at  the Department of Nutrition and Harvard School of Public Health found a connection between high intake of low-fat diary foods and infertility, while intake of high-fat dairy foods lowered this risk.

Source: Passion 4 Health

Weight Gain and Overeating

Considerable research has shown a relationship between fat intake, hormones, and weight fluctuations. Many people who ‘diet’ tend to gain back all their lost weight rather quickly. Studies have found that a higher-fat diet with lower carb intake helps prevent this rebound weight gain. Also, we generally find meals higher in fat to be more satisfying and satiating than meals that are low-fat. The reason for this is that fats turn on our fat-burning switch by impacting ghrelin hormone levels.

Look at any of the recent research involving weight gain (or loss) and fat intake, and you’ll quickly realize the established relationship between fat intake, your hormones and weight fluctuations. We know that many people who go on “diets” tend to gain back all of the weight shortly after. Why does this happen?

A 2012 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association compared the effects of three popular diets on overweight and obese young adults.

Each of the diets provided the same number of calories but different proportions of fat, protein, and carbs.

  1. The ‘low-fat diet’ consisted of 60% calories from carbs, 20% from fat, and 20% from protein

  2. The ‘low-glycemic diet’ had 40% calories from carbs, 40% from fat, and 20% from protein.

  3. The ‘low-carb diet’ had 10% calories from carbs, 60% from fat, and 30% from protein.

The results:

Those on the low-carb/high fat diet (#3) burned the most calories and also improved their insulin sensitivity.

Higher Risk of Insulin Resistance and Diabetes

Insulin is often referred to as our ‘fat-storing hormone’. Numerous clinical studies have demonstrated that excess weight and insulin problems are highly related. Eating plenty of healthy fats is key to preventing insulin resistance and controlling diabetes.

Different types of fat have different effects on insulin action. Since insulin resistance is a precursor to developing diabetes and heart disease, consuming adequate amounts of the right kinds of fat is necessary if you want to avoid being part of the ‘diabesity’ epidemic – or are already insulin resistant and want to improve your health.

Higher Risk for Depression and Anxiety

“Fatty acids play an important role in higher brain functions that control moods, so eating enough healthy fat sources is one key to following an anti-depression diet. Some neurotransmitters, such as endocannabinoids, are synthesized from fatty acids, suggesting that fatty acid metabolites derived from dietary fat can affect the central nervous system.

“While it appears that trans-fat intake can raise depression risk, studies have found an inverse association between consuming MUFA, PUFA and olive oil fats and depression risk. In other words, higher-fat diets might lower depression and other mental disorder risks. Research has shown, for example, that supplemental PUFAs and specifically omega-3 fatty acids in the diet cause significant improvement in depressive symptoms in humans. In fact, it’s now believed that use of omega-3 PUFA supplements is effective in treating patients with diagnosis of major depressive disorder.”

MUFAs =  mono-unsaturated fatty acids, plant-based fats found in avocado, nuts, seeds, oils, olives, and dark chocolate.  These fats enhance heart health and protect against chronic disease.

PUFAs =  poly-unsaturated fatty acids  are fatty acids that contain more than one double bond in their backbone. This class includes many important compounds, such as essential fatty acids. Foods containing PUFAs include walnuts, sunflower seeds, flax seeds and flax oil, fish (such as salmon, mackerel, herring, albacore tuna, and trout), corn oil, soybean oil, and safflower oil.


Gut-Related Problems

There is a bi-directional pathway between the gut and the brain called the Gut-Brain Axis that allows the gut and brain to communicate with one another to maintain homeostasis throughout the body. Rather important, no?

Higher-fat, high-fiber diets promote a healthy gut microbiome. Our brains require an adequate supply of fatty acids to function well. A diet stressing naturally occurring, healthy fatty acids and nutrients creates the building blocks that nourish both a healthy gut and a healthy brain – and allows good communication between them.

Source: Ripen Health