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MicroRNAs in Breastmilk Show Consistent Longitudinal Patterns during Lactation
By: Anna Petherick, Ph.D.
Issue #108 | Date: 05 2022

A new study found more than 2,000 microRNAs in breast milk with some common over the course of lactation and some showing dynamic longitudinal patterns.

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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.   Read more >


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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Dairy Farming Is Getting a Big Data Boost
By: Marina Wang
Issue #105 | Date: 11 2021

Industries around the world are being swept up in a Big Data and AI revolution, and dairy is no exception. A new, multidisciplinary project called Dairy Brain is using big data analytics and AI to give the industry a technological boost. Dairy Brain, a collaborative project with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is designing a web-based platform with a suite of smart tools informed by data analytics and AI that assists dairy farmers in management and decision-making.

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Anti-viral Properties of Human Milk Oligosaccharides
By: Sandeep Ravindran, Ph.D.
Issue #105 | Date: 11 2021

A surge in viral infections this past summer caused more children to be hospitalized than usual, and it’s not all COVID-19 [1,2]. Other respiratory viruses, including respiratory syncytial virus, have been hitting kids hard, highlighting how vulnerable they can be to viral infections. So it’s a good thing that in addition to providing nutrition, human milk can help protect against these diseases. Sugars called human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) are abundant in human milk and are one of the human milk components that have been shown to have protective effects against a wide range of pathogens.

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New Processing of Dairy Milk Yields Drug Delivery Vehicles
By: Marina Wang
Issue #105 | Date: 11 2021

Dairy could a have a surprising new role to play in biomedicine and pharmacology. Over the past few years, researchers have shown a surging interest in exosomes, tiny membrane-bound vesicles that carry molecules from cell to cell. Scientists are hopeful that these cellular bubbles could serve as the ideal drug delivery vehicle. In a new paper, researchers have described an improved method for distilling an impressive number of exosomes from a cheap and widely available product—cow’s milk.

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Bring Back the Fat in Dairy
By: Lauren Milligan Newmark, Ph.D.
Issue #105 | Date: 11 2021

Fashion trends from the 1990s may be making a comeback, but 1990’s dietary trends should definitely stay out of style. In that decade, fat was a four-letter word and non-fat and low-fat versions of foods were promoted over their full-fat counterparts, with the hope of improving heart health and reducing waist lines. We now know that trading fat for carbohydrates did not make Americans healthier (or thinner), but old habits die hard. Thirty years later, the influence of this fat-free mania on food choices and dietary recommendations is still evident. The most recent edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends non-fat and low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese to limit saturated fat intake. But far from clogging arteries and increasing cholesterol, a growing body of scientific studies suggests dairy-derived saturated fats could be beneficial for cardiovascular health.

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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 dysregulation, which can lead to several disorders including colic, asthma, allergies, type-1 diabetes, and Crohn’s disease.

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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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