subject: microbes

Training Your Body to Digest Lactose

Training Your Body to Digest Lactose

The common understanding of the inability to properly digest lactose is that it’s all about genetics: either a particular gene in cells lining your upper intestine—which enables everyone to digest lactose as an infant—becomes inactive as you grow up, or it doesn’t. But the truth is less cut and dry. In fact, there is some recent and gathering evidence to suggest that those who suffer the symptoms of lactose intolerance could be better off by frequently consuming small quantities of the sugar that bothers them. Read More...

Producing Human Milk Sugars for Use in Formula

Producing Human Milk Sugars for Use in Formula

It’s well known that human milk is good for you (1-5). Sugars, called oligosaccharides, form the third largest component of human milk and have been associated with many beneficial effects. These human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) have been shown to influence the composition of the gut microbiome, modulate the immune system, and help protect against pathogens (6-11, 22) Given the various benefits of HMOs, there has been a lot of interest in figuring out how to introduce HMOs into formula. However, more than 200 human milk oligosaccharides have been discovered so far, and their variety and complexity makes them challenging to synthesize (21-23). Read More...

Kefir Consumption—a Growing Culture

Kefir Consumption—a Growing Culture

Kefir, an ancient cultured dairy drink touted as a health-promoting probiotic, is coming back into fashion in Europe and gaining popularity in the US. With its fizzy freshness and mildly acidic flavor, kefir (pronounced “keh-FEAR”) likely owes its name to a similar Turkish word meaning "good feeling." Fermented by yeast and bacteria in a unique way, kefir has been shown to promote gut health and boost the immune system, among other beneficial effects. Kefir has even been credited with beginning "a new dawn of food," while commercial producers and home brewers are experimenting with modern recipes and flavored variants. Read More...

Human Milk Sugars Can Protect Against Food Allergies in Mice

Human Milk Sugars Can Protect Against Food Allergies in Mice

Food allergies affect a substantial proportion of the population, and there are few treatments available. A new study finds that two sugars present in human milk can help protect against food allergies and reduce the severity of food allergy symptoms in mice. If the results can be replicated in humans, these milk sugars could potentially lead to new anti-allergy therapies. Read More...

Mother’s DNA Alters Baby’s Gut Microbes

Mother's DNA Alters Baby's Gut Microbes

A mother’s genes determine a lot of things about her newborn, and it turns out that their effects extend even to the bacteria that colonize the baby’s gut. The establishment of a baby’s gut microbial community is an important event in a newborn’s life. A new study, conducted by microbial ecologist Zachary Lewis, finds that the gut microbiome of breastfed infants is influenced by the types of sugars present in breast milk [1, 2]. Specifically, a particular gene in mothers that modifies sugars in breast milk influences infants’ gut microbiome. Read More...

Microbial Transfer from Mother to Offspring

Microbial Transfer from Mother to Offspring

Until recently, it was thought that the maternal reproductive system is sterile, and that a baby’s first contact with bacteria was during birth while working its way through the birth canal. This long-standing dogma has been challenged by studies demonstrating that almost all tissues in the body are full of germs. Read More...

Identifying Parasites in African Cattle

Identifying Parasites in African Cattle

When African cattle become lazy and their milk production drops, they are said to have 'nagana'-to be depressed, in Zulu. The biological cause of nagana is a parasite, of which there are several species, and which wiggle around like winding corkscrews under a microscope. To work out how to reduce the damage done by these 'trypanosome' parasites, and thus improve the lot of many poor cattle farmers, we need better diagnostics. Recently, a group of researchers in Vienna invented a means of testing for three different species of trypanosome at the same time. Read about their breakthrough here! Read More...

Milk Peptides Fight Bacteria

Milk Peptides Fight Bacteria

Milk is a wonderfully complex fluid that is not only nutritious but is also physiologically proactive. Recently, David Dallas and his colleagues from University of California at Davis used a cutting-edge approach to probe the depths of milk composition. The initial results revealed that human breast milk contains proteins which are digested into peptides, some with antibacterial properties. Read More...

Milk Protein Kills Cancer Cells and Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

Milk Protein Kills Cancer Cells and Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

Wouldn’t it be great if there were a nontoxic cancer treatment that effectively killed tumor cells without causing any harm to healthy cells in the patient’s body? Or how about a chemical that could make antibiotics effective against bacterial strains that have become antibiotic resistant, such as pneumococci or MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus)? Solving just one of these tasks would be a medical miracle, and yet a team of American and Swedish researchers has shown that both are possible. Even more amazing is that the solution to these two seemingly disparate medical issues comes from the same molecule, a protein-lipid complex found in human breast milk called HAMLET (human alpha-lactalbumin made lethal to tumor cells). And unlike its Shakespearean namesake, the actions of milk-borne HAMLET are anything but tragic. Read More...

Fermentation of the Future

Fermentation of the Future

Using populations of bacteria or yeasts to change dairy product composition doesn’t sound like a wholesome idea, but that is what lies behind the production of cheese, mango lassi and, despite its name, crème fraîche. Some fermented dairy products such as these have been shown to be healthy in ways beyond providing nutrition. Consequentially, food scientists are asking whether the processes that conjure up greater amounts of certain health-promoting ingredients in fermented dairy could be applied more widely and effectively. Read More...

Meet our Elite and Premier Sponsors