SPLASH! milk science update: March 2014 issue

This month’s issue has stories of milk proteins that fight rotavirus, other milk proteins that relieve depression, the genetic troubles in selective breeding in cattle, and the benefits of milk fat digestion. Enjoy!

Sweet Revenge on Rotavirus

Sweet Revenge on Rotavirus

The main culprit behind viral gastroenteritis in young children is a group of viruses called rotaviruses that cause severe diarrhea and dehydration. Having evolved to recognize certain surface molecules on cells that line the small intestine, the rotaviruses latch onto these molecules to launch their warfare and invade the gut. However, mammals have evolved some biological weapons of their own to counter the viral attacks. For example, milk contains many remarkable ingredients, including sugars and proteins, which mimic the cell surface receptors that rotaviruses bind to in the gut. These milk goodies could help protect the infants from gastroenteritis by acting as decoys, mopping up the harmful rotaviruses. Read More...

Drink Milk, Be Merry?

Drink Milk, Be Merry?

When people take drugs to treat depression or stress, they are trying to change the levels of certain chemicals in the brain through which nerve cells communicate. Serotonin is probably the most important as well as the most famous of these chemicals. Recently, evidence has emerged that people have different versions of the gene for the protein that moves serotonin into brain cells, and correspondingly different propensities for depression. More optimistically, evidence has also emerged that eating certain dairy products—as well as exercising and spending time in sunlight—can raise serotonin levels and thus reduce or act preventatively against depression. Read More...

Milk Fat Built for Digestion

Milk Fat Built for Digestion

If left to settle, fresh whole milk separates out into an aqueous phase on the bottom and a lipid (or cream) phase on the top. The lipid phase adds more than calories to milk. Hidden in this lipid layer are brain-building molecules like DHA and fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin A. But in order for these lipid-bound components to do their job, they need to get from the digestive tract to the circulatory system. Just how is this accomplished? Read More...