Friday, February 1, 2019

Dairy: a Proven Protein. It’s time to call it out!

New Ensure Max Protein (pictured right) is described as containing 30 grams of high-quality protein to support muscles. The ingredient statement indicates this protein comes from milk protein concentrate and calcium caseinate. Sure wish the front label called out “dairy protein.” All of the new products featured in today’s blog contain dairy proteins. It’s time to call them out!

In Chicago—which I proudly call home—and throughout most of the Midwest, Monday was a stock-up-with-essentials day in preparation for the polar vortex. It’s true! Milk is the first food to be sold out. It was a beautiful site to see the empty coolers or near-empty coolers in multiple stores. (I was intrigued at the first location and had to see if it was everywhere. I visited an Aldi, Jewel, Marianos, Target and Whole Foods. They all were bare.)

It’s survival instinct. Milk, meat and eggs, they are proven proteins. We know they contain all the essential amino acids in the proportions the body needs. They nourish. They satiate. They prevent illness. They even cause allergic responses. There’s science to support their inclusion—and exclusion--in the diet. There’s science.

The polar vortex allowed me to catch up on reading, as well as the opportunity to have some very dynamic conversations with others experiencing cabin fever. Here’s some food for thought.

The food, beverage and supplement industry is in unchartered territory with cannabis. I do not understand how olestra---some of you remember this fat substitute best known for its unpleasant side effect—took many years of clinical trials to receive approval as a food ingredient, and yet, just because weed has been smoked forever, is now being treated like an everyday spice or extract. (OK, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I’m trying to make a point about the need for science.)

What about soy? Remember when it was the star of new product innovation? It still is a very popular ingredient, and rightfully so, as it has been consumed forever and is an affordable nutrition powerhouse. However, it’s a controversial food because of its isoflavone--a class of phytoestrogens—content. Certain population segments are often advised to not consume large quantities.

This brings me to other plant proteins. While all types of foods and beverages made with plant proteins are trending—and are becoming an important part of many dairy processors’ product lines—there is minimal science showing the impact of daily consumption over a long period of time. It might be very positive, or in a few years there might be another soy scenario out there.

We need science. Dairy protein consumption is backed by science.

As part of its ongoing efforts to showcase the benefits of dairy proteins across life stages, the U.S. Dairy Export Council recently shared new updates on how whey proteins from dairy can assist individuals with meeting health goals in their everyday lives.

“While research has established dairy proteins’ unique ability to help improve body composition during weight loss, increase muscle mass when combined with resistance training and aid in muscle recovery after endurance exercise, people often envision these benefits as being reserved for young, competitive athletes,” said Matt Pikosky, vice president, Nutrition Science & Partnerships at the National Dairy Council. “New research has shown dairy proteins have great benefits for women—without adding the bulk—as well as older individuals.”

The beneficial effects of whey protein supplementation are well-demonstrated in men, but less studied in women. A new study published in Nutrition Reviews suggests whey protein also produces positive results in females. In this systematic review and meta-analysis of 13 randomized controlled trials, totaling nearly 500 adult women, researchers found adding whey protein to a daily diet improved body composition by modest increases in lean mass without influencing changes in fat mass. Additionally, body composition improvements were even greater during reduced calorie diets, which suggests whey protein may be especially helpful in preserving lean muscle mass during periods of weight loss.
Another newly published review in Advances in Nutrition supports the role of protein, namely the amino acid leucine, in preventing age-related muscle loss. Available evidence supports leucine, when consumed as part of a higher protein diet, may be especially beneficial to preserving muscle mass, as it plays a key role in stimulating muscle protein synthesis. Thus, a special emphasis should be placed on consuming this amino acid. One of the best sources of leucine is whey protein from dairy. Based on their findings, the authors recommend older individuals consume a minimum of 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight—an amount which is 50% higher than the current Dietary Reference Intakes for healthy adults. Additional recommendations suggest spacing protein intake evenly throughout the day to maximize muscle protein synthesis.

These are just two of a growing number of studies supporting the benefits of incorporating whey from dairy into daily eating plans. Dairy proteins are versatile ingredients that can be added to all types of foods, including ice cream, milk beverages and yogurt. They are clean-label nutrition powerhouses that also provide functional properties.

Idaho Milk Products has developed a new functional milk protein product enriched in soluble caseins through the partial removal of calcium phosphate. As a result, superior emulsification and foaming properties have been demonstrated. The company worked with ice cream expert Dr. H. Douglas Goff and is offering the industry a white paper he prepared that discusses the potential application of this ingredient in ice cream formulations.  You can download the paper HERE.

Remember, dairy proteins are unique in both nutrition and functionality. Dairy is a proven protein. We need to call it out.

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