SPLASH! milk science update: September 2015

This month’s issue features how probiotics may work better with milk, helping pre-term babies fight fungal infection with milk sugars, kefir consumption, and breastfeeding rates among African American women.

Probiotics May Work Better with Milk

Probiotics May Work Better with Milk

We respond differently to different environments; we might put on a thick coat when it’s cold, or open an umbrella when it’s raining. It turns out that probiotic bacteria also react differently depending on their environment, and this could have important implications for how we consume probiotics. Two new studies led by Maria Marco from the University of California, Davis, found that probiotic bacteria showed improved survival and efficacy when delivered through milk rather than in another medium. Read More...

Milk Sugars May Help Pre-term Babies Fight Fungal Infection

Milk Sugars May Help Pre-term Babies Fight Fungal Infection

The human body is a host for billions of microbes, including the very common fungus, Candida albicans. Harmless most of the time, these yeast cells may suddenly transform into many cells, chained together as long and branching filaments that invade body tissues. This has been reported in many vulnerable individuals, including pre-term babies. A recent study by Gonia et al. found that, in the laboratory, human milk oligosaccharides protect cells, similar to intestinal cells from pre-term babies, against infection with Candida albicans. Read More...

Kefir Consumption—a Growing Culture

Kefir Consumption—a Growing Culture

Kefir, an ancient cultured dairy drink touted as a health-promoting probiotic, is coming back into fashion in Europe and gaining popularity in the US. With its fizzy freshness and mildly acidic flavor, kefir (pronounced “keh-FEAR”) likely owes its name to a similar Turkish word meaning "good feeling." Fermented by yeast and bacteria in a unique way, kefir has been shown to promote gut health and boost the immune system, among other beneficial effects. Kefir has even been credited with beginning "a new dawn of food," while commercial producers and home brewers are experimenting with modern recipes and flavored variants. Read More...

Success Stories

Success Stories

Anyone involved in healthcare in the United States has probably heard that breastfeeding rates among African American mothers are much lower than those of any other racial grouping. As it happens, breastfeeding initiation rose by 8% in the African American community between 2000 and 2008, but the aforementioned gap still didn’t narrow. Research into the topic tends to focus on why these women aren’t breastfeeding, with studies often emphasizing statistical results, sometimes based on narrowly worded questionnaires. Recently, however, a nurse named Becky Spencer turned this perspective on its head: she has sought to understand African American breastfeeding successes. Read More...