subject: digestive system

Milk Casein Proteins: Ancient, Diverse, and Essential

Milk Casein Proteins: Ancient, Diverse, and Essential

Grab your nearest carton of milk. Find the nutrition label. Under total fat, you’ll likely find information about how much of that fat is saturated, unsaturated, and even trans fatty acids. Under carbohydrates, you’ll learn how much fiber and sugar your milk contains. But there is just one row of information when it comes to protein, giving the false impression that milk protein is not nearly as complex as milk fat or sugar. However, cow milk is made up of two different types of proteins, whey and casein, the majority of which is are caseins. There are four different subtypes of casein proteins, and for each of the four subtypes, there are dozens of different genetic variants. How’s that for complex? Read More...

What’s in the Dairy Case? A2 Milk

What’s in the Dairy Case? A2 Milk

It used to be that the only decision you needed to make at the dairy case was full-fat or low-fat milk. Today, consumers are faced with dozens of alternatives to conventional cow’s milk, including milks free of lactose and “milks” made from soy beans, nuts, rice, and even peas (more about that in future articles). One of the newest alternatives to hit the shelves is A2 milk. It is marketed as an easier-to-digest version of conventional cow’s milk, differing by only one amino acid in one protein chain. But does the change in one protein really change the way A2 milk is digested? Read More...

Dairy Foods Promote Calcium Absorption and Bone Mineralization

Dairy Foods Promote Calcium Absorption and Bone Mineralization

Nutrition pop quiz: Which food provides the most calcium for an adult human body, 10 cups of spinach (containing 300 mg of calcium) or 1 cup of milk (also containing 300 mg of calcium)? Whereas spinach contains an acid that binds calcium and renders it almost completely indigestible, the ingredients in milk—and other dairy products—work synergistically to enhance calcium absorption and its subsequent deposition into bones in a manner not seen in any other dietary source of calcium. Read More...

The Beneficial Effects of Dairy Fats on Post-Meal Inflammation

The Beneficial Effects of Dairy Fats on Post-Meal Inflammation

Fatty foods are known to have adverse effects on health, and saturated fats in particular have been linked to an increased risk for cardiovascular disease. However, studies suggest that not all saturated fats are created equal, and the source of the fat may play a major role in determining its health risks or benefits. 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...

De-stressing with Dairy

De-stressing with Dairy

When, a few years ago, researchers analyzed fecal samples from volunteer undergraduates at Swinburne University of Technology, in Victoria, Australia, they didn’t necessarily expect to find evidence of the students’ examination stress. Yet the fecal lactic acid levels—reflecting the amount of “good bacteria” of the genus Lactobacillus in the students’ guts—took a dive during the exam period. In other words, exam stress had caused the volunteers’ intestines to become more favorable environments to pathogenic organisms. As the exams went on, things only got worse: the researchers observed day-by-day reductions in the undergraduates’ fecal lactic acid levels. This couldn’t have been because exam-period diets were messing with the students’ health—the only significant dietary change was an increase in coffee consumption. Read More...

Milk Vesicles Offer New Hope for Arthritis

Milk Vesicles Offer New Hope for Arthritis

Tiny, bubble-like structures found in cow’s milk appear to slow the development of arthritis in mice. The structures, called vesicles, were originally thought to be little more than the waste products of cellular processes. But in recent years, such vesicles have been shown to contain molecules called microRNAs, which in some contexts perform important biological functions. Although not fully demonstrated, the working hypothesis of lead investigator Fons van de Loo—is that the RNA molecules in milk vesicles are absorbed in the intestines—and modulate local mucosa l activity, thereby influencing the body’s innate immune system. Read More...