IssueM Articles

Holder Pasteurization Damages Some Immune Proteins in Human Milk

When you heat proteins, you very often ruin their function. This is because bonds that maintain a protein’s final structure start to rupture—that is, segments that have folded and wrapped around themselves, forming a fiddly and exact arrangement in three dimensions, come apart. “Denaturation,” as the process is called, is why Holder pasteurization (HoP)—heating milk to 62.5°C for 30 minutes—successfully removes the potential growth of germs such as bacteria when mother’s milk is stored, as in a milk bank. But in defanging some microorganisms through heating, HoP risks destroying the function of a suite of human proteins in milk that are thought to have beneficial effects on infants’ immunity. This third article in our series on HoP considers how well human proteins survive this type of pasteurization.

Mother’s Milk Microbes

Recent research suggests a link between the infant’s gut bacterial community, or microbiome, and the adult microbiome; starting out with the right mix of beneficial bacteria in the gut influences health throughout the lifespan. The infant’s gut is initially colonized by bacteria that may come from different sources, such as breast milk, or worse, such as a hospital environment. Special carbohydrates in breast milk, such as free oligosaccharides or glycans attached to proteins, then selectively nurture the good bacteria.
What can a parent do to make sure their offspring’s gastrointestinal tract has the most beneficial strains of bacteria? The results of a new study out of UCLA and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles demonstrate that breast milk-derived microbes make up almost one-third of all beneficial bacteria in the infant’s gut. Far from contaminating, breast milk bacteria may be instrumental in getting the gut off to a good start.

Dairy’s Counterintuitive Effects on Cardiovascular Disease Risk

Consuming fats, and particularly saturated fats, increases the odds of cardiovascular disease (CVD). CVD is the major cause of death and disability worldwide, and many public health guidelines recommend diets that are low in saturated fats. Although dairy products are a major source of dietary saturated fats, they have been shown to have various beneficial effects on cardiovascular health, including a reduced risk of stroke and coronary heart disease.

Plant-Based Milk Beverages Affect Children’s Height

A recent large-scale scientific study concluded that children drinking plant-based substitutes for cow’s milk were associated with slightly shorter height. The authors speculate the study provides the first indication that the increasingly popular consumption of nondairy milk substitutes may not adequately support the full nutritional requirements of rapidly growing young children.

Holder Pasteurization Has Limited Impact on the Nutrients in Human Milk

Holder pasteurization, or HoP, is used the world over to help ensure that the milk distributed by human milk banks is safe for infants to consume. Thanks to its broad effectiveness at destroying a long list of bacteria and viruses—including HIV and Ebola—HoP is recommended by the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics. But does raising the temperature of human milk to 62.5°C for half an hour break down any of its constituents such that the nutritional content of milk is affected? This second article in a five-part series about HoP finds that the evidence on this topic is relatively thin: different methods of evaluating the composition of milk have frequently led to different conclusions. Overall, however, even though some studies indicate that several vitamins, iron, fats, and certain proteins can be altered by HoP, researchers rarely consider the nutritional changes to be clinically relevant.

Human Milk Oligosaccharides Can Directly Inhibit Streptococcus Growth

Sugars found in human milk, called human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs), have various protective effects against infectious agents. HMOs are known to prevent the attachment of microbial pathogens to the host. They also have other protective effects against infections by acting on the host immune system.

Human Milk Oligosaccharides Alter Immune Cell Populations in Pigs

Rotavirus is a major viral pathogen, and rotavirus-associated diarrhea is prevalent in many developing countries. Interestingly, breastfed infants have a lower incidence of rotavirus infection than formula-fed infants, suggesting that certain components of human milk may have protective effects against this virus.

Dairy Consumption Reduces Risk of Kidney Disease

Dairy foods are best known for promoting a healthy skeleton, but bones are not the only tissue to reap their health benefits. The very same dairy ingredients—calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and protein—that build and maintain a healthy skeleton have demonstrated protective effects on cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes (T2D), and hypertension. And now a growing body of evidence suggests habitual dairy consumption may benefit the kidneys as well.

Drinking More Milk Associated With a Lower Risk of Cognitive Disorders

Increased age brings with it a greater risk of cognitive decline and disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The lack of effective treatments for these cognitive disorders has spurred the search for factors that can prevent or slow cognitive decline. One of the factors that has attracted a lot of interest is nutrition, and it turns out many of the things we eat or drink could play a role in preventing cognitive decline.

Delivering parcels around the world is a tough business. The company must deliver an individual parcel to the correct address, on time and without damage. A problem in any one of these areas results in a very unhappy customer. Ideally, the delivery of a therapeutic drug to a specific diseased tissue within a person has similar stringent requirements to the delivery of a parcel.