SPLASH! milk science update: March 2015

This month’s issue explores the unique sugars in platypus milk, the effect of dairy on gout, the impact of banning chocolate milk in schools, and the real-time response of breast milk to infant infection.

Gout, Diet, and Dairy

Gout, Diet, and Dairy

Gout is one of the many diet and lifestyle related diseases on the rise globally. But the link between gout and food intake is far from new. One of the oldest known forms of arthritis, gout was connected with gluttony, drunkenness, and obesity way back in the 5th century BC. Hippocrates, the ancient Greek 'father of western medicine', attributed the disease to excessive intake of food and wine, and recommended dietary restriction and reduction of alcoholic beverages as treatment. While modern medicine is far removed from Hippocratic medicine, today's physicians still uphold specific dietary recommendations for gout patients. For instance, the American College of Rheumatology Guidelines for Gout Management list a number of foods to avoid or limit, and encourage intake of vegetables and low or non-fat dairy products. But what's the foundation behind these dietary recommendations? Read More...

A Time Before Nipples

A Time Before Nipples

What was milk like long ago in evolutionary history? In the absence of a time machine, the next best way to answer this question is to take what is known about the diversity of living mammals and work backwards using deductive logic, just like Sherlock Holmes. Recently, progress in this area has received a major boost from two papers about the different sugars found in monotreme milk—monotremes being the wackiest and most ancestral-like of the mammal groups, with membership so exclusive it is limited to only two kinds, the platypus and the echidna. Read More...

Infants Take Active Role in Passive Immunity

Infants Take Active Role in Passive Immunity

The transfer of immune components from a nursing mother to her offspring is called passive immunity. Calling this system passive, however, wrongly implies that antibodies, macrophages, and other anti-microbial factors in milk are simply along for the ride with the nutritional factors that transfer from the maternal blood stream. Numerous studies have demonstrated that maternal factors such as nutrition, stress, and illness influence the concentration of immunological constituents in milk (1-3). And now, a growing body of research, including a new study by Breakey et al. (4), indicates that passive immunity may be actively influenced by the health status of the breastfeeding infant (5-7). Can a sick infant actually increase the quantity of particular immune factors in their mother’s milk to help fight off infection? Read More...

School Children Prefer Their Milk with Added Flavor

School Children Prefer Their Milk with Added Flavor

  Milk provides valuable nutrients for school children. Chocolate milk is favored by school children. Removal of chocolate milk from schools reduces total dairy consumption by children. The nutritional consequences of removing chocolate milk from schools should be studied in the context of total diet.   School lunches have been a focal point of childhood nutrition for almost a century. Many of my peers recall the school-based bottle-a-day approach to complement our dietary needs. In recent years, the composition of all foods that is offered in schools has attracted close scrutiny—especially regarding the consumption of high sugar drinks. Consideration of total caloric intake has led to a revision of available school beverages in many places around the world, and bans on the sale of drinks based on their sugar content are becoming widespread. This change includes flavored milk products, prompting a series of studies that have assessed the impact of chocolate milk withdrawal on total milk consumption by school children, and the consequence for nutrient intake. The latest to publish results on this effect is from a study conducted in Saskatoon Canada, by Henry et al [1]. Milk provides valuable nutrients to consumers, especially protein, vitamins, calcium, and other minerals [2]. Flavored milk contains these same nutrients and, despite the increased sugar, is not associated with increased weight gain in children and adolescents [2]. In efforts to reduce sugar consumption, the removal of flavored milk could be like “throwing out the baby with the bathwater.” Indeed, studies have demonstrated that removing chocolate milk from schools decreases school milk consumption and that there are additional nutritional effects that can follow [4]. When there is a fundamental change in the way milk is accessed by school children, nutritionists immediately think of the bigger picture, that is, what are the broader nutritional consequences […] Read More...