species: humans

The Early Influence of Breastfeeding on the Infant Immune Response

The Early Influence of Breastfeeding on the Infant Immune Response

Breastfeeding is known to have several long-term impacts on health and immunity, including a lower incidence of allergy, asthma, diabetes, and multiple sclerosis. But researchers still know relatively little about the development of the immune system within the first few weeks of life, and about the effect of breastfeeding on this early immune development. Read More...

Immune System-stimulating Proteins Influence the Development of the Neonatal Microbiome and Immune System

Immune System-stimulating Proteins Influence the Development of the Neonatal Microbiome and Immune System

In a new study, Dr. Viemann Dorothee of Hannover Medical School and her colleagues investigated the role of certain proteins found at high levels in breast milk, S100A8 and S100A9, in the development of the microbiome and early immune responses. Breast milk contains extremely high levels of S100A8 and S100A9, and these proteins are also found at high levels in healthy breast-fed infants. Physiologically, these proteins form a complex (S100A8-A9) known as calprotectin. Read More...

Dental Time Machines: Tartar Provides Direct Evidence of Dairy Consumption in Africa

Dental Time Machines: Tartar Provides Direct Evidence of Dairy Consumption in Africa

Six-thousand-year-old tartar is a dental hygienist’s nightmare but an archaeologist’s dream. That’s because the same yellow, cement-like deposits that have to be manually scraped off during a dental visit are also dietary time capsules. Like an insect preserved in amber, food particles from a lifetime of meals get trapped in tartar’s mineral matrix and become part of the fossil record. Rather than infer what past populations might have eaten, researchers can analyze ancient plaque and say what one particular individual actually ate. Read More...

Primate Milk Microbiome Reveals Shared and Unique Features

Primate Milk Microbiome Reveals Shared and Unique Features

Mammalian milk was once thought to be free of bacteria, but it is now well understood that milk has its own microbiome, or community of bacteria. Although only recently “discovered,” microbes were likely one of milk’s original ingredients and have an evolutionarily ancient relationship with their mammal hosts. Many bacterial species are likely common to all. But because some bacterial strains could potentially benefit infant health by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut or enhancing infant immunity, there may have been numerous opportunities for the evolution of species-specific milk bacterial communities. Does each mammal, including humans, pass on its own unique mix of bacterial strains in milk or is there a more general milk microbiome shared across mammals? Read More...

The Environmental and Nutritional Impact of Removing Dairy Cattle

The Environmental and Nutritional Impact of Removing Dairy Cattle

The United States dairy industry is a major contributor to the US food and nutrient supply. Dairy products are a major source of protein, calcium, and many essential vitamins not just in the US but all over the world. The US dairy industry also accounts for 16 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions from all of US agriculture, and contributes roughly 1.58 percent of the total US greenhouse gas emissions. Read More...

Replacing Red Meat with Dairy Could Lower the Risk for Type 2 Diabetes

Replacing Red Meat with Dairy Could Lower the Risk for Type 2 Diabetes

From eating clean to eating like a caveman, there is no shortage of fad diets promising weight loss and improved health. But what is trendy might not always be effective. Although dietary regimes that eschew carbohydrates and focus on proteins seem ideal for keeping blood sugars in check, not all proteins have the same effect on insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism, and some can even increase the risk for developing type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). For people wanting to maintain a high protein diet, a new study offers some helpful guidance—replacing red meat consumption with other protein sources, including dairy, lowers the risk of developing T2DM. Read More...

COVID-19-positive Mothers Pass on SARS-CoV-2 Antibodies, but Not Virus, to Infants

COVID-19-positive Mothers Pass on SARS-CoV-2 Antibodies, but  Not Virus, to Infants

The pace of scientific research is usually quite slow; the time frame between applying for financial support to publishing results in scientific journals is measured in years, not months. But that was before SARS-CoV-2. The urgency to understand the who, what, why, when, and how of this novel coronavirus has accelerated the way grant money is distributed, increased scientific collaboration, and loosened requirements on when scientific papers are published online. This change of pace can clearly be seen in human milk research, resulting in a “liquid gold rush” of studies focused on human milk composition and SARS-CoV-2. Read More...

Turkish Mothers Show Fermented Food Products Protect against Mastitis

Turkish Mothers Show Fermented Food Products Protect against Mastitis

The idea of using probiotics in place of antibiotics was born in the dairy industry. In recent years, however, as multidrug resistance has become more commonplace among strains of bacteria that cause mastitis in breastfeeding women, probiotics have become known as a potential treatment alternative. Evidence that they work has been gathering. But until recently no study had evaluated one easily available source of probiotics—fermented foods such as kefir—alongside mastitis’ common risk factors. Based on interviews about fermented food-product consumption with more than 600 Turkish women, a new study finds that both the frequency with which mothers consume these foodstuffs, and the diversity of the products that they consume, are associated with lower odds of developing mastitis. Read More...

How Breastfeeding Influences Viral Colonization of the Infant Gut

How Breastfeeding Influences Viral Colonization of the Infant Gut

The human gut microbiome is known to contain a large number of both bacteria and viruses. Viruses are absent from the infant gut at birth but colonize shortly after and can sometimes lead to gastrointestinal disorder. By one month of age, infants can have about a billion viruses per gram of stool, which is similar to the number of viruses present in older children and adults. But there is still a lot researchers don’t know about how viruses colonize the early infant gut to form the virus microbiome, known as the virome. Read More...

SARS-CoV-2 Research Highlights the Importance of Human Milk Immunobiology

SARS-CoV-2 Research Highlights the Importance of Human Milk Immunobiology

Over the last six months, scientists all over the world have put their planned research programs on hold and pivoted to study SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2). Milk researchers are no exception. Milk from mothers that have COVID-19, the illness caused by SARS-CoV-2, could be a source of antibodies directed against the virus. Like convalescent plasma (i.e., blood from recovered COVID-19 patients), these maternally-derived antibodies offer potential as a therapeutic to help severely ill patients. But human milk could also contain RNA from SARS-CoV-2, and possibly even infectious viral material. Telling infected mothers to stop nursing “just in case” is not an option, particularly in populations without access to human milk alternatives. There is urgency in identifying both therapeutics to help those with the most severe infections and to establish informed public health policy for nursing mothers that are COVID-19 positive. The vast number of investigators tackling these questions across institutions and countries offers promise that answers will soon be available. Read More...

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