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Dietary Access to B Vitamins during Pregnancy and Lactation Influences Infant Development

By: Lauren Milligan Newmark, Ph.D.
Issue #104 | Date: 09 2021

Red meat, fish, beans, and cow milk are all good dietary sources of B vitamins. But what about human milk? The answer is more complicated than a simple yes or no. Unlike cow mothers who have bacteria in their rumen that synthesize vitamin B12 during food digestion, human mothers rely on their diet to supply milk with B vitamins [1]. Because populations in many parts of the world suffer from vitamin B deficiency due to poor quality diets or dietary preferences that exclude animal products (e.g., vegetarian and vegan diets), human milk B vitamin composition varies widely across mothers.

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Creating Cows That Produce Hypoallergenic Milk

By: Sandeep Ravindran, Ph.D.
Issue #104 | Date: 09 2021

Food allergies can be a real kick in the guts, causing a range of symptoms from mild discomfort to life-threatening anaphylactic reactions. About 2–3% of babies and young infants have allergic reactions to proteins in cow’s milk, making this the most common food allergy in early childhood.

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Bitter Tastes from the Mother’s Diet Comes through in Her Milk—and That’s a Good Thing

By: Marina Wang
Issue #104 | Date: 09 2021

As the popular adage goes, you are what you eat, and a new study published in the Journal of Dairy Science (in a loose sense) seems to support that. A research team from the Netherlands has characterized the tastes and smells of human milk and discovered a correlation between the mother’s diet and the taste of her milk. In particular, the scientists were interested in teasing apart the sensory differences in fore and hind milk and focused on whether bitter tastes would show up through the mother’s milk

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From Myth to Reality: Yogurt and Dairy Foods Show Benefits to Cardiovascular Health and Type 2 Diabetes

By: Lauren Milligan Newmark, Ph.D.
Issue #104 | Date: 09 2021

Genghis Khan supposedly believed eating yogurt instilled bravery in his warriors, and in the Bible, Abraham’s longevity was attributed to his yogurt consumption. Although there isn’t scientific evidence that yogurt encourages people to storm through Mongolia or helps them live to be 175 years old, yogurt does have numerous demonstrated health benefits that could influence both vitality and life span—it has been shown to reduce inflammation and improve gut and cardiovascular health, and dairy foods, including yogurt, are associated with improvements in insulin sensitivity and a lowered risk for type 2 diabetes.

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Stinky Cheeses Have a Diverse Array of Peptides

By: Marina Wang
Issue #103 | Date: 07 2021

The thought of maggots, fungus, and mites infesting your cheese might make you feel queasy, but researchers are looking into how these unconventional cheese-making methods might actually release peptides, or amino acid sequences, that could be beneficial for your health. In a new study, scientists at the University of California, Davis, profiled the array of peptides found in four particularly pungent cheeses and discovered a huge diversity of peptides—between 2900 and 4700 per cheese.

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Milk-fed Bifidobacterium infantis EVC001 Promotes Proper Immune Development

By: Sandeep Ravindran, Ph.D.
Issue #103 | Date: 07 2021

No one likes having a sneezing fit due to seasonal allergies or struggling to breathe during an asthma attack. It turns out our propensity to such allergic and autoimmune reactions may come down to what’s in our gut—or rather, what was there when we were infants. A new study finds that whether a particular bacterium, Bifidobacterium longum subspecies infantis (B. infantis), is present in infant guts influences early immune development and could thus reduce the risk of allergic and autoimmune conditions later in life. The infant gut microbiome has been shown to play a particularly crucial role in the development of the immune system. An abnormal early gut microbiome is associated with immune

Real Milk, Plant-based Alternatives, and the Promotion of Healthy Teeth

By: Anna Petherick, Ph.D.
Issue #103 | Date: 07 2021

Dentists have plenty to do these days. During the pandemic, for weeks and months at a time, countries have put in place policies that have postponed many a dental check-up. Probably millions. Meanwhile, forced to stay home, people’s diets have shifted. One analysis of the Brisighella Heart Study cohort found that participants ate more yogurt and drank more milk than usual during Italy’s February–April 2020 lockdown. They also guzzled more sugars and sweets. While no dentist expects the extra sugar and sweets to make their job any easier, the elevated yogurt and milk intake just might, depending that is, on whether individuals consumed dairy milk products or plant-based alternatives.

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Milk Fat: Seven Mammals, Over 400 Lipid Classes

By: Lauren Milligan Newmark, Ph.D.
Issue #103 | Date: 07 2021

Low-fat, reduced-fat, whole-fat—we talk about milk fat as if it were a singular ingredient, when milk fat is actually made up of several thousand different fats. Mammalian milk fat is, in fact, the most complex lipid in nature. A new research field, called lipidomics, allows researchers to quantify this complexity, by identifying and measuring all the thousands of fats at once.

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Recent Studies Link Milk and Yogurt Consumption to Lower Bladder Cancer Rates

By: Anna Petherick, Ph.D.
Issue #102 | Date: 05 2021

Bladder cancer is a difficult condition to treat. It can hit anyone at any age but is more likely to afflict men than women, and smokers more than non-smokers. It is certainly costly for individuals. For health-system managers, tasked with trying to save as many years of life as possible with finite resources, it has the notorious title of the most expensive malignancy to treat from diagnosis to death. Identifying preventative measures, especially cheap ones, can therefore bring benefits beyond reducing bladder cancer rates, as they may free up resources for treatments of other diseases. Over the years, whether dairy products are preventative for bladder cancer has been debated.

Breastfeeding May Offer Long-term Advantages to Children’s Neurodevelopment Compared with Feeding Expressed Milk

By: Sandeep Ravindran, Ph.D.
Issue #102 | Date: 05 2021

Could how you eat something matter as much as what you eat? At least when it comes to human milk, the answer is still unclear. Human milk is known to provide several benefits to children. Studies have shown that exclusive breastfeeding and breastfeeding for a longer duration are associated with enhanced cognitive development of children, improved behavioral outcomes related to attention and hyperactivity, and benefits to food-related behaviors such as less food fussiness. But researchers still don’t know whether feeding at the breast might confer some advantages over feeding expressed milk.

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New Dietary Guidelines for Americans Include Birth to 24 Months for the First Time

By: Marina Wang
Issue #102 | Date: 05 2021

The U.S. government recently released its 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), designed to help policymakers and health professionals advise everyday Americans on how to consume a balanced and nutritious diet. New to this edition are recommendations for the tiniest Americans, from Birth to 24 months. This latest edition is also organized by age group for the first time, as well as includes recommendations for pregnant and lactating women. As ever, dairy remains a key food group to consume for all age groups, as it is a unique source of quality proteins, vitamins, and minerals.

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Vaccinating While Lactating: COVID-19 Vaccines Are Safe and Provide Immune Benefits to Mother and Infant

By: Lauren Milligan Newmark, Ph.D.
Issue #102 | Date: 05 2021

Less than a year from the first recorded SARS-CoV-2 infection in the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the emergency use of three COVID-19 vaccines. Usually a decade long endeavor, the global pandemic that has claimed over three million lives necessitated a rapid and all-hands-on-deck approach to vaccine development and delivery. Even with the accelerated pace, the vaccine trials made sure to include a diverse group of adults across multiple races, ethnicities, and age groups to ensure vaccine safety and efficacy for all recipients. What this diverse group did not include, however, were breastfeeding mothers. Without any clinical data to guide their vaccination

Success of African Cattle Linked to Admixture Event 1,000 Years Ago

By: Lauren Milligan Newmark, Ph.D.
Issue #101 | Date: 03 2021

Bladder cancer is a difficult condition to treat. It can hit anyone at any age but is more likely to afflict men than women, and smokers more than non-smokers. It is certainly costly for individuals. For health-system managers, tasked with trying to save as many years of life as possible with finite resources, it has the notorious title of the most expensive malignancy to treat from diagnosis to death. Identifying preventative measures, especially cheap ones, can therefore bring benefits beyond reducing bladder cancer rates, as they may free up resources for treatments of other diseases. Over the years, whether dairy products are preventative of bladder cancer has been debated.

The Early Influence of Breastfeeding on the Infant Immune Response

By: Sandeep Ravindran, Ph.D.
Issue #101 | Date: 03 2021

Breastfeeding is known to have several long-term impacts on health and immunity, including a lower incidence of allergy, asthma, diabetes, and multiple sclerosis. But researchers still know relatively little about the development of the immune system within the first few weeks of life, and about the effect of breastfeeding on this early immune development.

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Dental Time Machines: Tartar Provides Direct Evidence of Dairy Consumption in Africa

By: Lauren Milligan Newmark, Ph.D.
Issue #101 | Date: 03 2021

Six-thousand-year-old tartar is a dental hygienist’s nightmare but an archaeologist’s dream. That’s because the same yellow, cement-like deposits that have to be manually scraped off during a dental visit are also dietary time capsules. Like an insect preserved in amber, food particles from a lifetime of meals get trapped in tartar’s mineral matrix and become part of the fossil record. Rather than infer what past populations might have eaten, researchers can analyze ancient plaque and say what one particular individual actually ate.

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Primate Milk Microbiome Reveals Shared and Unique Features

By: Lauren Milligan Newmark, Ph.D.
Issue #100 | Date: 01 2021

Mammalian milk was once thought to be free of bacteria, but it is now well understood that milk has its own microbiome, or community of bacteria. Although only recently “discovered,” microbes were likely one of milk’s original ingredients and have an evolutionarily ancient relationship with their mammal hosts. Many bacterial species are likely common to all. But because some bacterial strains could potentially benefit infant health by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut or enhancing infant immunity, there may have been numerous opportunities for the evolution of species-specific milk bacterial communities. Does each mammal, including humans, pass on its own unique mix of bacterial strains in milk or is

The Environmental and Nutritional Impact of Removing Dairy Cattle

By: Sandeep Ravindran, Ph.D.
Issue #100 | Date: 01 2021

The United States dairy industry is a major contributor to the US food and nutrient supply. Dairy products are a major source of protein, calcium, and many essential vitamins not just in the US but all over the world. The US dairy industry also accounts for 16 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions from all of US agriculture, and contributes roughly 1.58 percent of the total US greenhouse gas emissions.

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The Promise and Challenges of Producing Human Milk in the Lab

By: Sandeep Ravindran, Ph.D.
Issue #100 | Date: 01 2021

Breastfeeding is known to be both nutritious and beneficial to the health of infants, including improving their immunity and helping to protect them from infections. However, not everyone is able to breastfeed, and many mothers have to rely on donor milk or formula instead.

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Replacing Red Meat with Dairy Could Lower the Risk for Type 2 Diabetes

By: Lauren Milligan Newmark, Ph.D.
Issue #100 | Date: 01 2021

From eating clean to eating like a caveman, there is no shortage of fad diets promising weight loss and improved health. But what is trendy might not always be effective. Although dietary regimes that eschew carbohydrates and focus on proteins seem ideal for keeping blood sugars in check, not all proteins have the same effect on insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism, and some can even increase the risk for developing type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). For people wanting to maintain a high protein diet, a new study offers some helpful guidance—replacing red meat consumption with other protein sources, including dairy, lowers the risk of developing T2DM.

The Effects of Dairy on Metabolic Risk Depend on the Type of Dairy Product Consumed

By: Sandeep Ravindran, Ph.D.
Issue #99 | Date: 11 2020

Researchers have long been interested in understanding the effects of different types of dairy products on cardiometabolic health. Studies have looked at the effects of consuming different types of dairy on metabolic markers such as body weight, body fat, lean mass, or cholesterol. Although some studies have found that dairy products are associated with lower cardiometabolic disease incidence, other study results have been mixed or inconclusive. As a result, there’s still a lot researchers don’t know about the effects of long-term habitual dairy consumption on cardiometabolic risk, or the potential pathways linking the two.

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3D Printing Milk-based Products while Maintaining Their Nutrients

By: Sandeep Ravindran, Ph.D.
Issue #99 | Date: 11 2020

As 3D printers have become more affordable and accessible over the past 10 years, their potential applications have also increased. One emerging application of 3D printing is food printing, which could enable the creation of aesthetically pleasing food products with customized nutrients and internal structures.

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COVID-19-positive Mothers Pass on SARS-CoV-2 Antibodies, but Not Virus, to Infants

By: Lauren Milligan Newmark, Ph.D.
Issue #99 | Date: 11 2020

The pace of scientific research is usually quite slow; the time frame between applying for financial support to publishing results in scientific journals is measured in years, not months. But that was before SARS-CoV-2. The urgency to understand the who, what, why, when, and how of this novel coronavirus has accelerated the way grant money is distributed, increased scientific collaboration, and loosened requirements on when scientific papers are published online. This change of pace can clearly be seen in human milk research, resulting in a “liquid gold rush” of studies focused on human milk composition and SARS-CoV-2.

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Reflections on the IMGC Virtual Symposium 2020 and a Look to the Future

By: Katie Rodger, Ph.D.
Issue #99 | Date: 11 2020

This year’s IMGC Symposium was held virtually from October 13-16. Like many academic and professional conferences in this year of global pandemic, “IMGC Virtual Symposium 2020” sought to bring its content to as many people as possible via Zoom and digital platforms. Yet unlike many conferences, it created a true virtual space for networking and collaboration via a robust and dynamic virtual portal.

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