subject: microbiome

Feeding Method Affects Human Milk Microbes

Feeding Method Affects Human Milk Microbes

It seems counterintuitive that breastmilk would be anything but sterile—human infants have a naïve and immature immune system and their first food should be free of potential pathogenic organisms, right? But study after study demonstrates that milk indeed contains microbes. Precisely where these microbes originate and how they make their way into human milk, however, is still being worked out. There are two, non-mutually exclusive hypotheses to explain their origins: one argues that milk microbes originate from the mother’s gut and are passed to the mammary gland (entero-mammary translocation) and the other that bacteria from the infant’s oral cavity move back into the mammary gland and influence the types and quantities of bacteria passed via milk (retrograde inoculation). Because not all milk microbes are equally beneficial for the infant, finding support for one or both of these hypotheses offers the potential of modifying the milk microbiome in ways that could improve infant outcomes. Read More...

How to Breed Climate-Friendly Dairy Herds

How to Breed Climate-Friendly Dairy Herds

When methane emissions that contribute to global warming are blamed on cows, they should, more precisely, be blamed on the microorganisms that live inside them. It stands to reason, therefore, that in seeking ways to reduce methane emissions from the dairy and beef industries, researchers’ primary target should be cows’ microbiomes. In line with this perspective, a group of researchers with teams in four countries recently carried out a detailed analysis of the microorganisms living in the rumens of different herds and breeds of cattle. These researchers have identified a population of bacteria, protozoa, anaerobic fungi and archaea that consistently form the core population of the rumen microbiome. By linking microbiome components to phenotypes such as methane emissions, they propose the establishment of microbiome-led breeding programs as a means to make livestock farming more climate-friendly. Read More...

Healthy Human Infant Gut Microbes Block Cow Milk Allergy in Mice

Healthy Human Infant Gut Microbes Block Cow Milk Allergy in Mice

Proteins in food often suffer from mistaken identity. Instead of being seen as the innocuous food items they are, immune systems instead take these proteins for harmful invaders and mount a response. To understand why some immune systems are sensitized to cow milk protein whereas others have an inappropriate reaction, researchers are turning to gut bacteria. In animal models and in humans, food allergies have been associated with a lack of diversity in gut bacteria species. And specific research on cow’s milk allergy (CMA) suggests that there might be particular species of gut bacteria that can prevent the development of allergy or allow for complete resolution of CMA in late infancy or early childhood. 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...

Milk Fat Globule Membrane Reduces Weight Gain in Mice

Milk Fat Globule Membrane Reduces Weight Gain in Mice

The fat component of milk is not sludgy and unstructured, as most people imagine. Rather, it is a complex mixture of different kinds of lipid molecules organized into membrane-bound bubbles called milk fat globules. Common fats, or triglycerols, occur in the middle of these globules. Fats that are known to have various regulatory functions, such as sphingolipids, phospholipids and glycolipids, are found in the surrounding membrane. Because these membranes have been found to have positive effects on human physiology beyond raw energy provision, scientists have gathered evidence that consuming milk fats—that is, whole globules, core and membrane combined—can be on-balance health promoting. Now researchers based mainly in Lyon, France, led by Marie-Caroline Michalski, have shown that when healthy mice consume butter serum, which is rich in milk fat globule membrane, on top of a high-fat diet, the mice gain less weight than when they ate a high-fat diet lacking this addition. Surprisingly, the high-butter serum diet also led the mice to gain less weight than when they consumed less energy in the form of a low-fat diet. Read More...

Human Milk and Saliva Synergize to Shape the Infant Oral Microbiome

Human Milk and Saliva Synergize to Shape the Infant Oral Microbiome

Parents of infants spend a good deal of time wiping up their baby’s drool but probably don’t give a second thought to the important ingredients that drool may contain. Lucky for them, a team of researchers from Australia happily collected and analyzed baby saliva in an effort to identify compounds that may influence the growth of bacterial communities in the infant’s mouth and, subsequently, the rest of their gastrointestinal tract. Read More...

Breastfeeding May Help Protect Babies from Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

Breastfeeding May Help Protect Babies from Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria

Bacterial resistance to antibiotics poses a major challenge to global public health. Babies lack a fully developed immune system and gut microbiome, and are particularly susceptible to infections by resistant bacteria. More than 200,000 infants are estimated to die every year due to septic infections caused by antibiotic-resistant pathogens. Read More...

Looks Can Be Deceiving: Similar Gut Bacteria Have Different Functions in Breast-Fed and Formula-Fed Infants

Looks Can Be Deceiving: Similar Gut Bacteria Have Different Functions in Breast-Fed and Formula-Fed Infants

Infant formula manufacturers are faced with an extremely difficult task: they must transform cow or plant-based milks into a liquid that mimics human milk. This mimicry involves more than just copying human milk’s ingredient list, however. Formula must also match human milk in performance, an especially difficult endeavor when considering many components are highly complex and specific to human milk. Read More...

A Human Milk Oligosaccharide Protects Against Intestinal Infection and Inflammation

A Human Milk Oligosaccharide Protects Against Intestinal Infection and Inflammation

Sugars found in human milk, called human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs), have various protective effects against intestinal infections. A new study finds that the HMO 2'-fucosyllactose (2'-FL) protects against infection and inflammation caused by the pathogen Campylobacter jejuni. Read More...

Eating High-Fat Yogurt is Associated with a Lower Risk of Depression in Women

Eating High-Fat Yogurt is Associated with a Lower Risk of Depression in Women

Over the past few years, researchers have found several intriguing links between diet and mental health. For example, unhealthy diets have been associated with a higher risk of developing depression, while healthy diets may instead have a protective effect. These effects are thought to be at least partly mediated by the gut microbiome and may be influenced by both prebiotics and probiotics. Read More...

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