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Unformatted text preview: 10/2/08 10:51 AM Chemical & Engineering News: Cover Story - Unraveling Breast Milk Page 1 of 6 http://pubs.acs.org/cen/coverstory/86/8639cover.html ACS Journals C&EN CAS Chemical & Engineering News Cover Story September 29, 2008 Volume 86, Number 39 pp. 13-17 Unraveling Breast Milk Analytical scrutiny reveals how complex fluid nourishes infants and protects them from disease Jyllian Kemsley WHEN IT COMES to feeding infants, the mantra is "breast is best." A diet of breast milk for babies is correlated with benefits including less diarrhea as well as lower incidence of diabetes or asthma when compared to formula-fed babies. But precisely how breast milk confers those advantages is unclear. Scientists know the basic ingredients of breast milk but don't fully understand how exactly they work to provide optimum nutrition for infants and protect against disease. Neil Michel/Axiom Photo Milk UC Davis graduate student Richard Seipert pipettes a milk sample as Lebrilla (far right) and coworkers observe. A better understanding of the components of human breast milk—especially its lipids and oligosaccharides—and their role in ensuring infant health could lead to improved foods and better ways to treat gastrointestinal diseases, not just for infants but perhaps also for adults. "The one thing that has evolved with humans, to nourish humans, is breast milk," says J. Bruce German , a food science professor at the University of California, Davis . "It is the ideal evolutionary model for what nourishment should be." Human breast milk is made up of several solid components. The most abundant of those is lactose, a disaccharide that provides energy for the infant. After lactose comes lipids, which are thought to primarily 10/2/08 10:51 AM Chemical & Engineering News: Cover Story - Unraveling Breast Milk Page 2 of 6 http://pubs.acs.org/cen/coverstory/86/8639cover.html deliver nutrient fat. Milk fat typically exists in globules of varying sizes that have a triacylglycerol core surrounded by a phospholipid membrane. Beyond the basic structure, however, scientists don't know much. "For lipids and membranes the science is approximately where proteins were in the 1920s, back before researchers really had any clear understanding of the sequence and structure of individual proteins," German says. His group is working to understand the composition and function of milk globules of varying sizes. Using laser "tweezers" to isolate single globules, they have used Raman spectroscopy to elucidate the composition of the particles ( J. Agric. Food Chem. 2008 , 56 , 7446 ). The UC Davis team found that larger particles with a diameter of 5 to 10 µ m do indeed have spectra consistent with triglycerides and cholesterol surrounded by phospholipids....
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This note was uploaded on 11/29/2010 for the course BME 104 taught by Professor Kasko during the Fall '10 term at UCLA.
- Fall '10