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Bring Back the Fat in Milk: Kids’ Edition

By: Lauren Milligan Newmark, Ph.D.
Issue #110 | Date: 09 2022

A new study found consumption of higher fat milk during early childhood was associated with a lower chance of being overweight or obese during early adolescence.

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Baby Backwash Can Trigger Immune Response in Milk

By: Lauren Milligan Newmark, Ph.D.
Issue #110 | Date: 09 2022

When a human infant suckles, some of their saliva gets pulled back into the nipple and can travel into the milk ducts. Researchers believe this could inform the mammary gland about the infant’s health

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MicroRNAs in Breastmilk Show Consistent Longitudinal Patterns during Lactation

By: Anna Petherick, Ph.D.
Issue #108 | Date: 05 2022

It is nearly thirty years since the discovery of the first microRNA. These non-protein encoding sections of RNA, typically in the region of 20 nucleotides long, are now understood to have important roles in gene regulation. And yet scientists are far from clear on how and when they work exactly, and novel assessments of which are involved in key biological tasks still breaking fresh ground. A recent sweep of the microRNAs found in breastmilk is one such study. In this case, an international team of researchers surveyed the most consistently occurring microRNAs appearing in breastmilk produced 3, 60 and 90 days after a full-term birth.

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Something to Bark About: Humans and Dogs Co-Evolved Adaptation for Lactose Digestion in Europe and the Middle East

By: Lauren Milligan Newmark, Ph.D.
Issue #108 | Date: 05 2022

Humans and dogs may be distant relatives on the tree of life, but they share very similar evolutionary stories. In high-altitude Tibet, humans and dogs have the same gene mutation that reduces physiological stress from low oxygen levels. In West Africa, both human and dog genomes show evidence of natural selection for a gene that provides protection against malaria infection. And now a new study reports European and Middle Eastern dog genomes, like those of their human companions from the same regions, are more likely to have a mutation that allows them to drink milk.

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Metabolites from Yogurt Protect against Type 2 Diabetes in Mice

By: Marina Wang
Issue #108 | Date: 05 2022

It’s no secret that type 2 diabetes is a widespread public health concern, with around 463 million people around the world suffering from the disease. Researchers have known for some time that yogurt consumption has a protective effect against the ails of type 2 diabetes, but the physiological and molecular mechanism behind this effect has been largely unknown. In a new multi-tiered study, researchers discovered that gut microbiota, as well as metabolites produced by the lactic acid bacteria in yogurt, help with type 2 diabetes in mice.

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Small but Mighty: Short-chain Fatty Acids in Human Milk Could Provide Protection from Development of Allergies

By: Lauren Milligan Newmark, Ph.D.
Issue #108 | Date: 05 2022

Short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) are small molecules with large impacts on human health. They are produced when gut bacteria in the large intestine break down indigestible dietary carbohydrates. But don’t be fooled by these humble beginnings. Once produced by beneficial gut microbes, SCFA can promote immunity by suppressing inflammatory responses in the gut, halting the growth of dangerous pathogens, and helping to maintain the integrity of the intestine’s epithelial barrier.

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Prehistoric Tartar Deposits Reveal the Earliest Dairy Consumers in Eurasia

By: Lauren Milligan Newmark, Ph.D.
Issue #107 | Date: 03 2022

Don’t tell your dentist, but tartar can sometimes be a good thing. Prehistoric tartar deposits have become instrumental in helping archaeologists understand when humans first started consuming dairy foods. This crusty mineral build-up (also called dental calculus) acts like a dietary time capsule.

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Peanut-popping Breastfeeding Moms Help Protect Their Toddlers from Peanut Allergy

By: Anna Petherick, Ph.D.
Issue #107 | Date: 03 2022

Peanut allergies are among the most common of food allergies, can be severe, and have become increasingly pervasive over time. Recently, evidence has mounted that the early introduction of peanuts into infant diets reduces the odds of affliction. A study that followed the trajectory of allergy development in a large group of Canadian children has found that moms consuming peanuts while breastfeeding further protect their child from developing an allergic response by their fifth birthday.

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Extracellular Vesicles from Cow Milk Help with Osteoarthritis

By: Marina Wang
Issue #107 | Date: 03 2022

Scientists are exploring an exciting new treatment for osteoarthritis, and the source of this new treatment stems from a surprising place: cow milk. Cow milk contains bountiful numbers of extracellular vesicles (EVs)—tiny cellular bubbles that transport lipids, proteins, and nucleotides between cells—and these vesicles are thought to contain components that influence cartilage formation and degradation. A new study exposed arthritic cartilage samples as well as chondrocytes, or cartilage cells, to EVs extracted from milk and found that growth factors and microRNAs carried within these vesicles reduced both cartilage degradation and inflammation.

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Scientists Comb Human Genome for Clues to Why Milk Sugars Vary among People

By: Cristy Gelling, Ph.D.
Issue #107 | Date: 03 2022

Human milk is loaded with complex sugars that babies can’t digest. Called human milk oligosaccharides (HMO), these indigestible sugars are one of the most abundant components of milk in humans. Rather than feeding the infant, up to 200 different types of HMO nourish helpful bacteria and protect against pathogens. But there is much that scientists still don’t understand about the oligosaccharides in human milk, says molecular geneticist Brenda Murdoch, an associate professor at the University of Idaho.

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COVID-19 Vaccinated Mothers Transfer Active Antibodies in Milk to Infants

By: Lauren Milligan Newmark, Ph.D.
Issue #106 | Date: 01 2022

Many U.S. parents breathed a sigh of relief in the fall of 2021 when the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine received emergency use authorization for anyone five years and older. Although the youngest children are still ineligible for vaccination, infants—who are particularly vulnerable because of their immature immune systems—have access to another source of immune protection: human milk.

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Nutritional Intervention with Dairy Foods Prevents Falls and Fractures in Older Adults

By: Sandeep Ravindran, Ph.D.
Issue #106 | Date: 01 2022

We change in many ways as we grow old. In addition to external signs of aging such as white hair and wrinkles, our body also experiences less obvious changes, such as loss of muscle and bone mass. In a new study, researchers found that supplementation using high calcium, high protein dairy foods reduced the risk of falls and fractures.

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Exploring Cells in Human Milk with Single-Cell Sequencing

By: Marina Wang
Issue #106 | Date: 01 2022

Milk is a complex mixture of nutrients, peptides, and immunological factors, yet very little is known about the cells within human milk that make it the ultimate nutritional source for developing infants. Now, scientists have developed a method for using RNA-sequencing to study these little-understood human milk cells.

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Milk and Other Animal-sourced Foods May Be Key Components of a Low-cost Nutritious Diet

By: Sandeep Ravindran, Ph.D.
Issue #106 | Date: 01 2022

From steak and salad to milk and cereal, people enjoy a wide variety of foods from both plant and animal sources. As researchers have studied the environmental sustainability of various diets, there has been much debate about the respective roles of plant- and animal-sourced foods in such diets. Two recent studies approach this question from an economic perspective by taking into account both the nutritional content and monetary cost of foods.

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