subject: milk

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...

Does Human Milk Composition Make the Infant Body Clock Tick?

Does Human Milk Composition Make the Infant Body Clock Tick?

Human beings have internal clocks. Locked in a room with no source of daylight nor regularly scheduled stimulation, our bodies cycle automatically through periods of slightly longer than 24 hours, sleeping and waking more or less as if the sun were rising and falling over a horizon that we could see. But we are not born this way. Instead, infants develop body clocks gradually. Researchers investigating this aspect of development have recently wondered how much human milk contributes to the process, in the knowledge that its levels of nutrients and hormones vary over the course of the day. Read More...

Milk Components Offer Safe Options for Targeted Drug Delivery

Milk Components Offer Safe Options for Targeted Drug Delivery

Milk has evolved through mammalian history as a soup of complex molecules that provide nutrients, as well as developmental and immunological support to infants. Some of these complex molecules have been naturally selected for their abilities to deliver bioactive compounds in such a way that the infant body can make use of them. This involves, for example, the ability to bind ions with positive and negative charges, such as iron and calcium ions, respectively—and protecting delicate compounds from stomach acids so they can be absorbed through the intestinal wall. In short, some of the soup of complex molecules in milk are ready-made nano-scale delivery units that could be harnessed by science to carry modern medicines into the body to precise locations. 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...

The Fifteen Lives of Mammary Cells

The Fifteen Lives of Mammary Cells

How do mammary cells change and gain the ability to make milk at each birth? Scientists, at present, only have fragmentary information and little detail about the hierarchy of mammary cells contributing to the lactation cycle beginning at each pregnancy. A cellular hierarchy is like a family tree. It shows the relationships between different types of cells i.e., who begat whom. Knowledge of cellular hierarchies in mammary tissue could help answer many difficult questions. Which cells (progenitor cells) give rise to the cells that make milk or cells that form part of the mammary tissue structure supporting lactation? How do mammary epithelial cells cease producing milk after weaning? Which mammary cells develop into breast cancer and why? Recently, a group of investigators produced a massive molecular resource that may help answer these and many other questions relating to mammary tissue function. Importantly, the investigators made the resource available to all scientists to maximize its potential for additional discoveries. Read More...

High-Fat Dairy Linked to Lower Diabetes Rates in Native Americans

High-Fat Dairy Linked to Lower Diabetes Rates in Native Americans

Native Americans are about twice as likely as white people in the United States to develop diabetes, and more likely to do so than any other ethnic group in the country. The reasons for this are complex, but post-reservation lifestyles and diets packed with processed sugar and saturated fats are big contributors. Given the extent of the problem, any research that identifies cheap interventions to which many people are likely to be amenable has the potential to reap substantial public health benefits. In a recent issue of the Journal of Nutrition, Kim Kummer of the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues report that encouraging the consumption of full-fat dairy products, such as full-fat milk and cheese, could be a useful tool in efforts to cut the disease burden. 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...

A Jumping Spider That Provides Milk and Maternal Care

A Jumping Spider That Provides Milk and Maternal Care

High school science classes the world over teach that mammals are unique because females furnish their young with milk. The reality is somewhat more nuanced, and depends on your definition of milk. Indeed, there are various specialized food sources that a few non-mammals provide their offspring, among these the antibody-containing epidermal mucus found in some fish and trophic eggs in amphibians (as well as other classes of animal). In a recent issue of the journal Science, a group of researchers associated mainly with the Chinese Academy of Sciences report on the curious life of an ant-mimicking jumping spider, Toxeus magnus. They find that females of this species produce protein-rich droplets for their offspring to consume that are essential for the youngest spiders’ survival. Curiously, female offspring continue to drink this milk even after they have become sexually mature. 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...

The Magic of Milk in the Morning

The Magic of Milk in the Morning

Odds are, your mother told you “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” And, as is usually the case, your mother was right. Scientific studies continually support this folk wisdom—people that eat breakfast weigh less, are less likely to gain lost weight back, and have more stable blood sugar levels throughout the day compared with those who skip the first meal of the day. Not all breakfast foods offer these health benefits, however. Sorry bagels and donuts, but studies consistently show that protein-packed breakfast foods may make the biggest impact when it comes to jump-starting your metabolism and limiting spikes in blood sugar and overall daily food intake. But a new study shows that you may be able to have your breakfast carbohydrates and eat them too—as long as you eat them with milk. Read More...

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