SPLASH!® milk science update: June 2019 Issue

This month’s issue features milk fat globule membrane and weight gain, milk biomarkers, and milk-derived sweetener.

Milk Fat Globule Membrane Reduces Weight Gain in Mice

Milk Fat Globule Membrane Reduces Weight Gain in Mice

The fat component of milk is not sludgy and unstructured, as most people imagine. Rather, it is a complex mixture of different kinds of lipid molecules organized into membrane-bound bubbles called milk fat globules. Common fats, or triglycerols, occur in the middle of these globules. Fats that are known to have various regulatory functions, such as sphingolipids, phospholipids and glycolipids, are found in the surrounding membrane. Because these membranes have been found to have positive effects on human physiology beyond raw energy provision, scientists have gathered evidence that consuming milk fats—that is, whole globules, core and membrane combined—can be on-balance health promoting. Now researchers based mainly in Lyon, France, led by Marie-Caroline Michalski, have shown that when healthy mice consume butter serum, which is rich in milk fat globule membrane, on top of a high-fat diet, the mice gain less weight than when they ate a high-fat diet lacking this addition. Surprisingly, the high-butter serum diet also led the mice to gain less weight than when they consumed less energy in the form of a low-fat diet. Read More...

New Milk Biomarkers Predict Preterm Infant Growth

New Milk Biomarkers Predict Preterm Infant Growth

A current trend in the marketing of healthy foods and drinks is highlighting a product’s short ingredient list; the less “stuff” in a food, the healthier it must be, right? This may be true for energy bars or fruit juices, but when it comes to human milk, a long list of ingredients is precisely what makes it optimal for infant health. Over the last decade, as the health food aisle has increased in so-called simple and clean foods, human milk’s ingredient list just keeps getting more complicated. Innovations in analytical tools have led to more in-depth studies detailing the specific types of fats, amino acids, sugars, and other metabolites present in human milk. Creating milk “–omes”—specifically, the milk metabolome, glycome, and lipidome—complicates human milk research in the best possible way, opening the door to identifying specific milk components that influence infant growth and development. Read More...

Genetically Engineered Yeast Make Low-Calorie Sugar from Lactose

Genetically Engineered Yeast Make Low-Calorie Sugar from Lactose

High-fructose corn syrup has a bad reputation. It is a common ingredient in all kinds of processed food, from cookies to bread and salad dressing, primarily because, unlike sucrose, it is predictably cheap over time. As with other sugars with a high glycemic index, its consumption is associated with an increased risk of metabolic disorders, such as type 2 diabetes. For a long time, nutritional scientists have known about healthier sugars with the prerequisite sweetness to replace high-fructose corn syrup, however, the production costs of these alternatives have not been competitive. Now, thanks to the efforts of an international group of researchers, this may change. The group has genetically engineered yeast to turn lactose into tagatose—a sugar with about half the calories of table sugar, and that tastes like the real thing. Read More...

Dairy-Containing Supplement Reduces Rates of Stunting in Babies Born in Resource-Poor Communities

Dairy-Containing Supplement Reduces Rates of Stunting in Babies Born in Resource-Poor Communities

Babies born in resource-poor rural and semi-rural communities have a high risk of stunting, that is, being born short for their gestational age. Rates as high as 60% have been documented in one indigenous population in Guatemala. Stunting at birth predicts increased infant and child mortality as well as ongoing growth retardation. Growth retardation in turn carries a higher risk for impaired brain function and loss of economic productivity. In female infants, growth failure presents a greater reproductive risk for themselves and their eventual children due to intrauterine growth restriction. The issue is primarily a consequence of inadequate nutrition, and is considered to be a major public health challenge in developing nations. However, nutrition interventions carried out during the infant and toddler stages have had only limited success in either treating or preventing growth failure. Those aimed at maternal nutrition during pregnancy, primarily focusing on micronutrients, have produced positive, albeit modest, effects on newborn size. Interventions prior to conception have not been well studied in humans, but animal studies have shown promise. Read More...

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