Milk has a proven legacy of providing health and wellness benefits through its 13 essential nutrients that solidifies its place in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and has earned endorsements from leading health organizations.
But what if that glass of milk had more to give and provided qualities that meet what today’s consumers — particularly the younger generation — are seeking?
We know through the expertise of the Dairy Management Inc. (DMI) Product Research Team that there is exciting potential through milk’s bioactive components and their unique functionality.
Our ongoing work, done in partnership with the checkoff-founded Dairy Foods Research Centers network, can help put milk into a new realm with benefits related to immunity, calm, energy, and digestive health. We are following a whole-food approach and recognizing milk is much more than the sum of its essential nutrients, referred to as the food matrix.
So, we are studying lesser-known components of milk proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates. These include bioactive peptides, α-lactalbumin, immunoglobulins, lactoferrin, growth factors, glycomacropeptide, milk fat globule membrane, and milk oligosaccharides that we seek to bring to market and meet consumer demand.
We know, for example, some studies have shown lactoferrin’s connection to immune health. We also know tryptophan can support sleep benefits and research shows the membrane around milk fat helps cognition.
Challenges for the application of these bioactive components in food and pharmaceutical formulations revolve around their isolation and purification on a commercial production scale and with their physical and chemical stability during processing, storage, and digestion.
DMI’s product research scientists and those across the research center network are working to overcome these challenges so we can reach a point where we can harvest, purify and concentrate them on a commercial scale, leading to new products and marketing claims about these benefits. The good news is we are finding these challenges can be overcome through advanced separation techniques and sophisticated technologies.
We are entering a “food as medicine” era where advances in technology around milk’s qualities will create growth platforms across the industry, benefiting those who produce the milk at their farms to those who process it. Ultimately, this is how we will meet consumers’ health needs in a modern and relevant way for dairy.