subject: dairy

Chew on This: Softer Diets of Preindustrial Dairy Farmers Influenced the Shape of Their Skull

Chew on This: Softer Diets of Preindustrial Dairy Farmers Influenced the Shape of Their Skull

The human family tree has an extinct genus that is remarkable for their massive jawbones, molars, and cranial crests (picture a bony mohawk). All of these anatomical features are proposed adaptations to the tough, fibrous diet of genus Paranthropus; hard and chewy diets require large chewing muscles, which in turn require larger jaw and cranial bones (and crests!) for points of attachment. Read More...

Cheese May Be Good for Blood Circulation

Cheese May Be Good for Blood Circulation

Cheese is much more than just food. It is a part of the compelling story of ancient and modern human civilization. The huge range of cheeses today reflects the diversity of human taste and history. Cheese types also became a metaphor for public opinion. As Charles de Gaulle frustratingly said, “How can you govern a country (France), which has 246 varieties of cheese.” Adding to this impressive résumé of achievements, investigators recently demonstrated that hard cheese may also be good for blood circulation in older adults. Read More...

Cows May Go Green

Cows May Go Green

It’s a tough gig being a cow. Productivity expectations for meat and milk are high, and at the same time, the cow gets a bad rap for belching a potent greenhouse gas, methane, which is a by-product of its digestion. Some people say it’s like driving a car very hard on a winding mountain road and then complaining about the car’s increased exhaust gas emissions. Reducing emissions and fuel consumption while maintaining performance is the golden ambition of car manufacturers. A similar goal is also true for the cow. People in many government agricultural agencies and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) want the beef and dairy industries to use more productive cattle emitting less methane and using less feed i.e., increasing industry production efficiency while decreasing its environmental footprint. It’s a tall order seemingly resisted by the realities of cow biology, however recent ground-breaking research may have opened new opportunities to meet these ambitious aims. Read More...

MicroRNAs May Play a Key Role in Heat Stress Responses in Mammary Glands of Lactating Cows

MicroRNAs May Play a Key Role in Heat Stress Responses in Mammary Glands of Lactating Cows

A concern facing dairy farmers as the long, hot days of summer approach is the threat of heat stress in their cows. Experienced at temperatures above 80°F, heat stress affects growth and development as well as milk composition and volume. Heat stress is a major cause of low fertility in dairy cattle. It also increases susceptibility to metabolic disorders, mammary gland pathogens and mastitis. Compared with other livestock, cattle are unable to dissipate their heat load efficiently. Additional heat generated by the fermentation of food in the rumen compounds this problem. Cows’ sweating response is not highly effective, and the animals rely on respiration to cool themselves. Because of their inefficient response, cattle accumulate a heat load during the day that must be dissipated in cooler nighttime temperatures. In extreme weather conditions with overnight temperatures above 70°F, however, this doesn’t happen. Cattle experiencing increasing heat stress will stop feeding and become restless. They will then begin drooling and breathing more rapidly and with increased effort. They will also begin to group together, further exacerbating the problem. If not controlled, severe cases of heat stress will result in death. Economically, decreased milk yield and reproductive losses through hot summer months seriously affect the dairy industry. Increased occurrences of extreme weather conditions caused by ongoing global warming will only worsen these losses. Read More...

Comprehensive Cow Milk Metabolite Database Now Online

Comprehensive Cow Milk Metabolite Database Now Online

    Some recipes are meant to be top secret—Colonel Sanders’ fried chicken; Big Mac’s special sauce; your great aunt Ingrid’s sherry cake. But the ingredients in cow milk shouldn’t be private and confidential. The advent of targeted metabolomics approaches, which characterize large numbers of small molecules in milk, offers the opportunity to produce a detailed and comprehensive picture of cow milk’s chemical composition. And yet, many studies employing these new techniques have not publicly reported their findings, or report the components they have found but not their concentrations. Rather than having scientists continuing to re-invent the analytical milk wheel, a team of Canadian researchers has just published a “centralized, comprehensive, and electronically accessible database” of all detectable metabolites in cow milk. We may never know what Colonel Sanders uses to season his fried chicken batter, but the (detectable) chemicals that make up cow milk—all 2,355 of them—are now on the record. Read More...

Treating Lactose Intolerance and Malabsorption

Treating Lactose Intolerance and Malabsorption

The ability to digest lactose is essential for very young humans, for whom the sugar provides approximately one-third of their daily calories. But upon weaning and growing up, to varying extents, human bodies become less proficient at this task. For many people, the change is so evident that they are diagnosed as lactose intolerant, and, as a result, cut dairy completely out of their diets in an effort to avert unpleasant symptoms. Yet the medical consensus advises against this. Several strategies to manage the symptoms of lactose intolerance and malabsorption are instead proposed: careful dietary management, supplementing the missing lactase enzyme, and, most recently, consuming pre-biotics. Read More...

Dairy Pastoralism in Mongolia Began at Least 3,300 Years Ago

Dairy Pastoralism in Mongolia Began at Least 3,300 Years Ago

People have been migrating since the dawn of human existence. It’s in our nature to survive and that drove generations of ancient humans to walk to nearly all corners of the world. The history of human migration is inscribed in detail within the DNA code of modern-day people. It is a fantastic book to read, full of drama and intrigue. One chapter contains descriptions of an ancient population migration into Europe that resulted in major cultural changes. Scientists recently concluded that the Eurasian steppe was the ancient cradle for today’s European populations and it was also one of the primary origins of dairy pastoralism. How and why ancient Eurasian populations migrated into Europe are being revealed by scientists using new technologies that trace massive ancient population migrations, changes in diets, and the movement of dairy pastoralism beginning about 4,500 years ago. The scientists along the way have answered one of the most debated questions of history. How did new ideas, especially knowledge of dairying, spread in ancient populations? Was it due to population migration and then replacement of indigenous populations or the adoption of new ideas taken from neighbors? The answer is both, but in different places. Read More...

More Dairy Means Lower Cardiovascular Disease Globally

More Dairy Means Lower Cardiovascular Disease Globally

For many years, researchers have been gathering and analyzing different sources of data to try to figure out definitively whether consuming dairy products has a net positive or net negative influence on cardiovascular health. Naively, the fact that dairy contains saturated fat suggests the proposition that it might raise the odds of having a heart attack or a stroke. However, the diversity of dairy fats, alongside a host of other health-promoting molecules found in milk, cheese and yogurts, has led many researchers to suspect the opposite might be true. A consensus has been forming that dairy products either have no noticeable effects or have protective effects on the cardiovascular system, though this has rested upon data drawn heavily from a few wealthy countries. A new study known as “PURE”— “The Prospective Urban Rural Epidemiology” study—has just filled in this gap. Taking in data from five continents, it reports that higher dairy consumption is linked to lower cardiovascular disease the world over. Read More...

Large Study Finds Consuming Milk Cuts the Odds of Crohn’s Disease

Large Study Finds Consuming Milk Cuts the Odds of Crohn’s Disease

For years it has not been clear how consuming dairy products affects one’s chances of developing the two main forms of inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. On the one hand, saturated fats are thought to contribute to the risk, and dairy products contain these. But on the other hand, various unique components of milk, yogurt and cheese, such as certain anti-inflammatory factors and, depending on the product, even particular bacteria, are thought to be protective. Now, by far the largest epidemiological study of dairy consumption and the development of these diseases has been published. It reports that people who consume milk are significantly less likely to develop Crohn’s disease than those who do not. The data for ulcerative colitis were less conclusive. Read More...

Dairy Fat Is Not Associated with Heart Disease

Dairy Fat Is Not Associated with Heart Disease

The defense attorney summed up. “The prosecution’s case against dairy fat’s alleged health misdeeds is flawed and circumstantial. The flimsy forensic evidence does not stand up to repeated scientific inspection. The accused just looked like one of the suspect crowd and became wrongly branded with their guilt.” Now, a clinical trial following an elderly population for a remarkable 21 years, as well as mounting independent evidence, reports on dairy fat’s innocence. Dairy fat is not associated with risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Four past articles in SPLASH! have also summarized related aspects of the growing body of scientific evidence supporting this conclusion. Read More...

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