Goats were one of the first animals to be domesticated , and research into the health implications of consuming goat’s milk has been published in academic journals for more than a century . Yet new findings appear all the time. In the past year, for example, computational approaches have been applied to the study of bioactive peptides that are released when we digest goat’s milk—and levels of various anti-inflammatory components in goat’s milk have been measured. Broadly speaking, goat’s milk main benefits are that it prompts fewer allergic responses than cow’s milk and is more easily digested and absorbed. For these reasons, its consumption is increasing in every populated continent.
Choline is an important vitamin-like nutrient that was officially recognized as an essential nutrient in 1998. It is an important structural component of our cells, as it is part of molecules called phospholipids that are abundant in our cell membranes. It is also important for the synthesis of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which is involved in memory and muscle control. Choline deficiency is thought to contribute to liver disease, atherosclerosis, and neurological disorders.
The Ommoord district of the city of Rotterdam, in the Netherlands, is known for its many residential towers. Among epidemiologists, it has a new notoriety. Between 2000 and 2016, researchers tested the urinary tract infections (UTIs) of Ommoord residents for resistance to a number of antibiotic drugs. The aim was to figure out why some people struggle with drug-resistant UTIs, but other people who catch UTIs get infected with bacteria that modern medicine has no trouble conquering. The Ommoord study has a simple conclusion. At least in the Netherlands, eating chicken and pork is associated with an increase in the odds of having drug-resistant UTIs, but eating cheese reduces this. Cheese, in this sense, appears to promote a urinary tract that can be more easily soothed.
After hundreds of thousands of years of evolution and carrying the unrelenting burden of survival of the fittest, humans have increasingly become allergic to food. Who would have thought? It seems like the ultimate contradiction of our time. Heading the list of serial offenders are nuts, seafood, eggs, wheat, soy, and cow’s milk. About 8% of children and 5% of adults in Western countries are diagnosed with food allergies . Scientists agree that the priming of allergic responses (sensitization) to some foods and the development of normal tolerance to foods generally occurs early in life [1,6,9]. Over the last two decades, the health authorities’ recommendations for when to introduce some of these foods to infants have radically changed as clinical investigators reveal new information that directly conflicts with past practices. One area of some confusion relates to the reason for the recommended late introduction of liquid cow’s milk to infants.
For years it has not been clear how consuming dairy products affects one’s chances of developing the two main forms of inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. On the one hand, saturated fats are thought to contribute to the risk, and dairy products contain these. But on the other hand, various unique components of milk, yogurt and cheese, such as certain anti-inflammatory factors and, depending on the product, even particular bacteria, are thought to be protective. Now, by far the largest epidemiological study of dairy consumption and the development of these diseases has been published. It reports that people who consume milk are significantly less likely to develop Crohn’s disease than those who do not. The data for ulcerative colitis were less conclusive.
The plant-based milk substitute market has exploded over the last 10 years, quickly becoming a multi-billion dollar industry in the U.S. and around the globe. This growth has been fueled in part by consumers believing these milk substitutes are as nutritious as (or even more nutritious than) cow milk, a perception that is strongly influenced by the use of the word milk in the product name and their very placement next to cow milk in the dairy aisle. Add in claims on the packaging regarding calcium and vitamin D fortification, and it is not hard to see why people would think that anything cows can do, plants could do better.
When thinking about infant nutrition, selenium isn’t necessarily the first thing that comes to mind. But it’s been known for more than 50 years that selenium is a crucial micronutrient. This trace mineral can’t be synthesized in the human body, and is required for a variety of functions including antioxidant defense, modulation of the inflammatory response, and production of thyroid hormones. It acts in conjunction with many proteins, and about 25 genes encoding these “selenoproteins” have been identified in humans. Selenoprotein deficiency has been associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease and stroke.
The defense attorney summed up. “The prosecution’s case against dairy fat’s alleged health misdeeds is flawed and circumstantial. The flimsy forensic evidence does not stand up to repeated scientific inspection. The accused just looked like one of the suspect crowd and became wrongly branded with their guilt.” Now, a clinical trial following an elderly population for a remarkable 21 years, as well as mounting independent evidence, reports on dairy fat’s innocence. Dairy fat is not associated with risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Four past articles in SPLASH! have also summarized related aspects of the growing body of scientific evidence supporting this conclusion.
Life’s tough for very small premature babies. They face a daunting list of potential complications that could challenge their present and future health, and sometimes their survival. Their families dread hearing the foreboding medical word “complication.” Babies weighing less than 1.5 kg (3 lb 4 oz) are classified by the World Health Organization as very low-birth-weight (VLBW) babies. To put that into perspective, the average birth weight in the USA is 3.3 kg (7 lb 4 oz) with 95% of babies ranging between a petite 2.5 kg (5 lb 8 oz) and the king or queen of the nursery at 5 kg (11 lb). Amazingly, many VLBW babies overcome their early life challenges with help from intensive neonatal medical care and go on to face the more important challenges within a child’s life, like learning to swim and passing grammar tests at school. One factor contributing to the health of VLBW babies is the use of milk-based nutritional fortifiers. But which fortifier is best?
Fermentation is an age-old practice used to make foods last longer and easier to digest. About 40–80 pounds of fermented dairy products are consumed per person each year in Western countries, of which yogurt constitutes about 40%. Yogurt consumption is known to have several beneficial effects, including modulating the immune system, lowering circulating cholesterol, and improving many gastrointestinal conditions such as lactose intolerance, constipation, and inflammatory bowel disease [3-5]. However, the mechanisms underlying these beneficial effects are still unclear.