subject: diet

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...

The Bitterness of the Maternal Diet Influences the Bitterness of Human Milk

The Bitterness of the Maternal Diet Influences the Bitterness of Human Milk

Human milk is known to provide a variety of nutrients that aid infants’ growth and development and are beneficial to their health. But as children grow a little older, they often don’t meet recommended dietary guidelines, particularly when it comes to eating enough fruits and vegetables. Read More...

Dairy-Containing Supplement Reduces Rates of Stunting in Babies Born in Resource-Poor Communities

Dairy-Containing Supplement Reduces Rates of Stunting in Babies Born in Resource-Poor Communities

Babies born in resource-poor rural and semi-rural communities have a high risk of stunting, that is, being born short for their gestational age. Rates as high as 60% have been documented in one indigenous population in Guatemala. Stunting at birth predicts increased infant and child mortality as well as ongoing growth retardation. Growth retardation in turn carries a higher risk for impaired brain function and loss of economic productivity. In female infants, growth failure presents a greater reproductive risk for themselves and their eventual children due to intrauterine growth restriction. The issue is primarily a consequence of inadequate nutrition, and is considered to be a major public health challenge in developing nations. However, nutrition interventions carried out during the infant and toddler stages have had only limited success in either treating or preventing growth failure. Those aimed at maternal nutrition during pregnancy, primarily focusing on micronutrients, have produced positive, albeit modest, effects on newborn size. Interventions prior to conception have not been well studied in humans, but animal studies have shown promise. 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...

Almond “Milk”: A Case of Identify Theft?

Almond “Milk”: A Case of Identify Theft?

Juliet Capulet famously asked, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Juliet was able to look past “Montague” and love Romeo in spite of his surname. But when it comes to food and nutrition, names matter. Case in point—plant-based “milks.” Their placement in grocery stores in the dairy case and the use of “milk” on their packaging can give the false impression that they are nutritionally equivalent to cow milk. Although plant-based milk alternatives offer many nutritional benefits and are produced to have the same texture and appearance as milk, they are not a suitable nutritional substitute for cow milk, particularly for children and adolescents. Read More...

Human Milk’s Lutein Content Adds to the Evidence for Breastfeeding

Human Milk’s Lutein Content Adds to the Evidence for Breastfeeding

Everyone knows that fruit and vegetables are crucial components of a healthy diet, but few have heard of lutein, a substance that is structurally similar to vitamin A and found in spinach and kale. Because the human body cannot make lutein, the amount that one swallows determines how much is available to protect the skin from ultraviolet light, lower the risk of some cancers, and—if relevant—moderate the progression of atherosclerosis. There is also mounting evidence that lutein is important in fetal and infant development. Fetuses and infants receive lutein directly from their mother—via blood that passes through the placenta, and by consuming human milk. Read More...

Food and Medicine: Dairy Reduces Markers of Chronic Inflammation

Food and Medicine: Dairy Reduces Markers of Chronic Inflammation

Cow milk evolved to best meet the needs of baby cows, but lucky for human consumers of milk and dairy products, many of those needs cut across species’ boundaries. Take, for example, the numerous anti-inflammatory agents found in cows milk. Although slightly different in degree and type from those found in human milk, several studies demonstrate that these factors, including calcium and the amino acid leucine, influence human markers of inflammation, particularly those related to obesity and the metabolic syndrome. And unlike baby cows, humans need not consume a milk-only diet to reap these benefits—even adding just two servings of dairy a day can have positive effects on inflammation and, by extension, human health. Read More...

Drinking More Milk Associated With a Lower Risk of Cognitive Disorders

Drinking More Milk Associated With a Lower Risk of Cognitive Disorders

Increased age brings with it a greater risk of cognitive decline and disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The lack of effective treatments for these cognitive disorders has spurred the search for factors that can prevent or slow cognitive decline. One of the factors that has attracted a lot of interest is nutrition, and it turns out many of the things we eat or drink could play a role in preventing cognitive decline. Read More...

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