Ask the Dietitians

Low-Fat Dairy News and Do Eating Times Matter?

Got a food question? We have the answers.

Q: Is it true that low-fat dairy can lead to Parkinson’s disease?

A: New research has found a slight correlation between consuming dairy (particularly low-fat varieties) and an increased risk for developing Parkinson’s disease. A cohort study done by the American Cancer Society involving more than 130,000 people found that those who ate more than 500 grams of dairy per day had an overall increased risk for developing the disease, with milk consumption being the highest risk factor. Men were also more at risk than women. In a study done by the American Academy of Neurology (AAN), low-fat dairy seemed to cause the greatest risk, while full-fat varieties did not pose the same threat. According to the AAN, those who consumed three or more servings of low-fat dairy each day had a 34% greater chance of developing Parkinson’s. Although the mechanism of this correlation is still unknown, more research will uncover further details. In the meantime, stick to Clean Eating’s recommendation of consuming full-fat, whole-milk dairy in lieu of low-fat.

Q: Does it matter what time I eat at?

A: Recent studies published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Cell Metabolism are shedding light on how the timing of your meals impacts your weight. In the former, researchers from Baylor College of Medicine discovered that changing the feeding times of mice and altering their circadian clocks caused changes to the bacterial makeup of their gut microbiome, which has an impact on weight gain or loss. (Many studies have shown that bacterial type and diversity play a role in obesity and leanness.) In the second study from UT Southwestern Medical Center, scientists fed lab mice varying amounts of food at specific times of the day and found that only the mice that ate during their “awake” and “active” time lost weight. While further research is needed in humans, researchers say that these findings suggest dieting will only be effective if food is consumed during the hours you are active.