SPLASH! milk science update: September 2016

This month’s issue features the link between human milk consumption and longer telomeres, a milk-like substance made by cockroaches, the slower digestion of dairy proteins, and the association of higher-fat yogurt with lower obesity.

Consuming Human Milk in Infancy Linked to Longer Telomeres

Consuming Human Milk in Infancy Linked to Longer Telomeres

Telomeres can be thought of as tags on the ends of chromosomes that, in protecting those ends, are also guides to cellular aging and, consequently, to lifespan. Telomere length decreases as we age, dropping off most rapidly in the first four years of life. Now a team at the University of California, San Francisco reports that feeding an infant human milk appears to lower the rate of telomere shortening until at least the age of five. Read More...

Cockroach Mothers Produce Nutrient-Dense Milk Crystals

Cockroach Mothers Produce Nutrient-Dense Milk Crystals

A new study on cockroach milk attracted a lot of attention from popular news outlets last month. And who can blame them? The idea of a milk-like substance coming from an insect is a pretty remarkable finding. But a cockroach making milk is, surprisingly, not news; scientists have known about cockroach milk for more than 40 years. The recent study from Banerjee and colleagues generated so much “buzz” because they found that cockroach mothers, despite their diminutive size, produce a complete nutrient for their offspring that is higher in energy than milks from most mammals. Using cutting edge X-ray diffraction techniques to take the closest look to date at the crystal structure of cockroach milk, the international team of researchers reported that cockroach embryos dine on a wide variety of amino acids, essential long-chain fatty acids, and carbohydrates. Cockroach milk, it seems, is more than just a drink; it is a highly nutritious meal. But if the thought of adding cockroach milk crystals to your smoothie is completely unappealing, don’t fret. Thankfully, many of the features that make cockroach milk proteins so remarkable are also found in the milk of other mammals, including those sold in your grocery store dairy case. Read More...

Dairy Protein Digestion: Life in the Slow Lane

Dairy Protein Digestion: Life in the Slow Lane

Foods traveling from the mouth to the intestines are a bit like drivers off to work on a four-lane interstate. Some foods get in the fast lane and are quickly digested, whereas others stay in the slow lane, taking longer to reach their final destination. Why some foods are speed demons and others Sunday drivers depends on the particular properties of the nutrients in the foods. For example, proteins take longer to break down in the stomach than do carbohydrates, and milk contains some of the slowest digesting proteins of all. What makes milk proteins such slow pokes? Read More...

Eating Whole-fat Yogurt Is Associated with Lower Obesity in an Elderly Population

Eating Whole-fat Yogurt Is Associated with Lower Obesity in an Elderly Population

For those on a diet, it might be natural to reach for low-fat rather than whole-fat yogurt. But the results of a new study might make that decision a little more complicated, at least in some populations. In the study, Carmen Sayón-Orea and her colleagues at the University of Navarra found that eating whole-fat yogurt was associated with a decrease in waist circumference and a greater probability of reducing abdominal obesity in an elderly population at high cardiovascular risk. The researchers didn’t find a similar association with low-fat or total yogurt consumption. Read More...