IssueM Articles

Exploring Cells in Human Milk with Single-Cell Sequencing

Milk is a complex mixture of nutrients, peptides, and immunological factors, yet very little is known about the cells within human milk that make it the ultimate nutritional source for developing infants. Now, scientists have developed a method for using RNA-sequencing to study these little-understood human milk cells. This new technique using single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNAseq) sets the stage for future experiments that will gain an unprecedented understanding of human milk-derived cells and the intricacies of human lactation.

Milk and Other Animal-sourced Foods May Be Key Components of a Low-cost Nutritious Diet

From steak and salad to milk and cereal, people enjoy a wide variety of foods from both plant and animal sources. As researchers have studied the environmental sustainability of various diets, there has been much debate about the respective roles of plant- and animal-sourced foods in such diets.

Nutritional Intervention with Dairy Foods Prevents Falls and Fractures in Older Adults

Older adults are often malnourished, which can contribute to their increased risk of falls and fractures. A new study of more than 7000 residents of 60 aged-care facilities in Australia found that a nutritional intervention that increased the amount of dairy foods reduced the risk of falls and fractures. Participants in the intervention group receiving more dairy consumed, on average, higher protein and calcium than the control group on their usual diets. The findings suggest that nutritional interventions with dairy foods could serve as a public health measure for fracture prevention in aged care settings and potentially even in the broader community.   We change in many ways as we grow old. In addition to external signs of aging such as white hair and wrinkles, our body also experiences less obvious changes, such as loss of muscle and bone mass. These changes to muscle and bone are exacerbated by the fact that older individuals who need institutionalized care are often malnourished and lack adequate protein and calcium. This can in turn contribute to their increased risk of falls and fractures [1-4]. “My work was in aged care because their falls and fracture risk are the highest and their intake is the worst,” says Dr. Sandra Iuliano of the University of Melbourne. “We wondered, can we have good clinical outcomes by just improving the food that they’re eating?” she says. When designing a nutritional intervention, Iuliano focused on dairy foods as they are a good low-cost source of protein and calcium and can be easily consumed by the elderly. “The reason we chose the dairy food group is because it’s high in calcium and high in protein, and we were looking at falls and fracture reduction, so it was a natural kind of choice for us,” she says. Previous research showed […]

COVID-19 Vaccinated Mothers Transfer Active Antibodies in Milk to Infants

Many U.S. parents breathed a sigh of relief in the fall of 2021 when the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine received emergency use authorization for anyone five years and older. Although the youngest children are still ineligible for vaccination, infants—who are particularly vulnerable because of their immature immune systems—have access to another source of immune protection: human milk.

Bring Back the Fat in Dairy

Fashion trends from the 1990s may be making a comeback, but 1990’s dietary trends should definitely stay out of style. In that decade, fat was a four-letter word and non-fat and low-fat versions of foods were promoted over their full-fat counterparts, with the hope of improving heart health and reducing waist lines. We now know that trading fat for carbohydrates did not make Americans healthier (or thinner), but old habits die hard. Thirty years later, the influence of this fat-free mania on food choices and dietary recommendations is still evident. The most recent edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends non-fat and low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese to limit saturated fat intake. But far from clogging arteries and increasing cholesterol, a growing body of scientific studies suggest dairy-derived saturated fats could be beneficial for cardiovascular health.

Dairy Farming Is Getting a Big Data Boost

Industries around the world are being swept up in a Big Data and AI revolution, and dairy is no exception. A new, multidisciplinary project called Dairy Brain is using big data analytics and AI to give the industry a technological boost. Dairy Brain, a collaborative project with the University of Madison-Wisconsin, is designing a web-based platform with a suite of smart tools informed by data analytics and AI that assists dairy farmers in management and decision-making.

New Processing of Dairy Milk Yields Drug Delivery Vehicles

Dairy could a have a surprising new role to play in biomedicine and pharmacology. Over the past few years, researchers have shown a surging interest in exosomes, tiny membrane-bound vesicles that carry molecules from cell to cell. Scientists are hopeful that these cellular bubbles could serve as the ideal drug delivery vehicle. In a new paper, researchers have described an improved method for distilling an impressive number of exosomes from a cheap and widely available product—cow’s milk.

Anti-viral Properties of Human Milk Oligosaccharides

A surge in viral infections this past summer caused more children to be hospitalized than usual, and it’s not all COVID-19. Other respiratory viruses, including respiratory syncytial virus, have been hitting kids hard, highlighting how vulnerable they can be to viral infections. So it’s a good thing that in addition to providing nutrition, human milk can help protect against these diseases. Sugars called human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) are abundant in human milk and are one of the human milk components that have been shown to have protective effects against a wide range of pathogens.

Dietary Access to B Vitamins during Pregnancy and Lactation Influences Infant Development

Red meat, fish, beans, and cow milk are all good dietary sources of B vitamins. But what about human milk? The answer is more complicated than a simple yes or no. Unlike cow mothers who have bacteria in their rumen that synthesize vitamin B12 during food digestion, human mothers rely on their diet to supply milk with B vitamins (except folate, B9). Because populations in many parts of the world suffer from vitamin B deficiency due to poor quality diets or dietary preferences that exclude animal products (e.g., vegetarian and vegan diets), human milk B vitamin composition varies widely across mothers.

Creating Cows That Produce Hypoallergenic Milk

Food allergies can be a real kick in the guts, causing a range of symptoms from mild discomfort to life-threatening anaphylactic reactions. About 2-3% of babies and young infants have allergic reactions to proteins in cow’s milk, making this the most common food allergy in early childhood.