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The Rising Popularity of High Protein Snacking

In recent years, the food industry has seen a significant shift towards health and wellness, with consumers increasingly seeking nutrient-dense and functional foods. Among the fastest-growing trends in this domain is the demand for high-protein snacks, which offer convenience, satiety, and a plethora of health benefits. One of the key innovations driving this trend is the development of extruded proteins.

The Rise of Extruded Proteins

Extruded proteins are made through a process called extrusion, where protein-rich ingredients are processed under high temperature and pressure. This method not only improves the texture and palatability of proteins but also enhances their digestibility and nutritional profile. As a result, extruded proteins have become a cornerstone for creating a variety of high-protein snacks, including bars, crisps, and puffed products.

Consumers today are more informed and discerning about their dietary choices. They look for snacks that not only satisfy their hunger but also contribute positively to their overall health. High-protein snacks fit this bill perfectly by providing essential amino acids that support muscle repair, growth, and overall metabolic function. This makes them particularly appealing to fitness enthusiasts, athletes, and those leading an active lifestyle.

The Consumer Shift Towards High-Protein Snacks

The popularity of high-protein snacks is evident from the burgeoning market growth. According to recent market analyses, the global high-protein snacks market is expected to witness a significant compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in the coming years. This surge is driven by several factors:

  1. Health and Wellness Trends: As more people prioritize health, protein-rich snacks are perceived as a healthier alternative to traditional, carb-heavy snacks.
  2. Convenience: Busy lifestyles necessitate convenient, on-the-go nutrition. High-protein snacks are portable, easy to consume, and often come in a variety of flavors and formats to suit diverse preferences.
  3. Weight Management: Protein is known to promote satiety and help in weight management. Snacks rich in protein can help control appetite and reduce overall calorie intake.
  4. Fitness and Sports Nutrition: High-protein snacks are a staple in the diets of athletes and fitness enthusiasts who need to meet their higher protein requirements for muscle maintenance and recovery.

Introducing PROtext™: A Game Changer in High-Protein Snacks

At Milk Specialties Global, we recognize the burgeoning demand for high-protein snacks and the pivotal role that extruded proteins play in this market. Our PROtext™ line of extruded proteins offers a unique opportunity for companies to expand into this growing category with products that stand out in terms of quality, taste, and nutritional benefits.

Key Benefits of PROtext™ Extruded Proteins

  1. Superior Texture and Taste: PROtext™ proteins are designed to deliver a superior mouthfeel and flavor profile, making them an ideal ingredient for high-protein snacks that consumers love.
  2. Nutritional Excellence: Rich in essential amino acids, our extruded proteins support muscle health and provide the nutrition consumers are looking for in their snacks.
  3. Versatility: PROtext™ can be incorporated into a wide range of snack formats, from bars and bites to crisps and puffs, offering limitless possibilities for innovation.
  4. Clean Label: In line with consumer demand for transparency and clean labels, PROtext™ proteins are made with minimal processing and high-quality ingredients.

Expanding Your Product Line with PROtext™

By incorporating PROtext™ into your product line, you can tap into the high-protein snack trend and meet the needs of health-conscious consumers. Whether you’re looking to create a new product or enhance an existing one, our team at Milk Specialties Global is here to support you with technical expertise, market insights, and top-tier ingredients.

In conclusion, the rising popularity of extruded proteins and high-protein snacks presents a golden opportunity for companies to innovate and grow. With PROtext™, you can deliver products that not only meet market demand but also exceed consumer expectations. Partner with us and take the first step towards leading the high-protein snack revolution.

Exploring the Potential of Whey Protein

Young woman and man drinking protein shake after workout

In the realm of fitness and nutrition, whey protein has long been hailed as the golden standard for muscle recovery and growth. Its popularity among athletes and fitness enthusiasts is undeniable, serving as a cornerstone in the world of sports nutrition. However, in recent years, we’ve witnessed a fascinating evolution in the utilization of whey protein. No longer confined to the gym bag of bodybuilders, whey protein is making its mark in a variety of categories, showcasing its versatility and potential beyond the realm of sports nutrition.

Whey Protein 101: Understanding the Powerhouse

Before delving into its expanding horizons, let’s revisit what makes whey protein a nutritional powerhouse. Whey protein is derived from milk during the cheese-making process and is loaded with essential amino acids, making it an ideal supplement for muscle repair and growth. Its rapid digestion and absorption rate also make it a favorite among athletes for post-workout recovery.

Beyond the Gym: Whey Protein’s Diversification

While whey protein continues to dominate the sports nutrition market, its reach has extended far beyond the confines of gym culture. Here are some intriguing areas where whey protein is making waves:

1. Functional Foods and Beverages:

Whey protein is increasingly finding its way into everyday food and beverage products, capitalizing on its nutritional profile and versatility. From protein-fortified snacks like bars and cookies to protein-enhanced beverages such as smoothies and shakes, consumers are embracing whey protein as a convenient and delicious way to boost their protein intake throughout the day.

2. Medical Nutrition:

The therapeutic potential of whey protein is gaining recognition in the field of medical nutrition. Studies have shown that whey protein may have beneficial effects in various medical conditions, including muscle wasting diseases, wound healing, and malnutrition. As a result, healthcare professionals are incorporating whey protein supplements into patient care plans to support recovery and overall well-being.

3. Weight Management:

In the quest for healthy weight management, whey protein has emerged as a valuable ally. Its high protein content helps promote satiety and preserve lean muscle mass, making it an effective tool for those looking to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. As consumers become increasingly health-conscious, whey protein is becoming a staple in meal replacement shakes, smoothie bowls, and other weight management products.

4. Beauty and Personal Care:

The beauty industry is no stranger to innovation, and whey protein is now making its mark in skincare and haircare products. Recognized for its nourishing properties, whey protein is being incorporated into beauty formulations to promote skin elasticity, collagen production, and hair strength. From moisturizers to hair masks, whey protein is adding a healthy dose of nutrition to our daily beauty routines.

Embracing the Future of Whey Protein

As whey protein continues to diversify and expand into new categories, the future looks promising for this nutritional powerhouse. Its versatility, efficacy, and wide-ranging benefits make it a valuable ingredient across various industries, catering to the evolving needs and preferences of consumers worldwide. Whether you’re an athlete striving for peak performance, a health-conscious individual seeking balance, or a beauty enthusiast embracing self-care, whey protein offers something for everyone.

At Milk Specialties Global, we’re committed to pushing the boundaries of whey protein innovation and unlocking its full potential across diverse applications. From sports nutrition to medical nutrition and beyond, we’re dedicated to harnessing the power of whey protein to enhance lives and inspire healthier futures. Join us on this journey as we continue to explore the endless possibilities of whey protein, shaping a world where nutrition knows no bounds.

Harnessing the Power of Lactoferrin: Functional Nutrition Formulation

In the ever-evolving landscape of functional nutrition, formulators are constantly seeking innovative ingredients that offer unique benefits. One such ingredient that has been gaining significant attention in recent years is lactoferrin. Widely recognized for its multifaceted health benefits, lactoferrin is proving to be a valuable addition to a variety of functional nutrition applications.

So, what exactly is lactoferrin?

Lactoferrin is a multifunctional glycoprotein that is naturally present in various bodily fluids, including milk, saliva, tears, and nasal secretions. However, it is most abundant in colostrum and milk, where it serves as an essential component of the innate immune system, providing defense against microbial infections.

But lactoferrin’s role extends far beyond immunity. Emerging research has unveiled its diverse array of health-promoting properties, making it an attractive ingredient for formulators of functional nutrition products.

Here are some key reasons why lactoferrin is gaining traction in the world of functional nutrition:

  1. Immune Support: Lactoferrin is renowned for its immunomodulatory effects. It helps regulate the immune response by enhancing the activity of immune cells such as lymphocytes and macrophages, thus bolstering the body’s defense mechanisms against pathogens. Additionally, lactoferrin possesses antimicrobial properties, inhibiting the growth of bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
  2. Gut Health: The gastrointestinal tract plays a crucial role in overall health, and lactoferrin contributes to gut homeostasis in multiple ways. Peptides released during lactoferrin digestion have been reported to have prebiotic benefits, promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, while inhibiting the proliferation of harmful pathogens, thereby helping maintain a healthy microbial balance.
  3. Antioxidant Activity: Oxidative stress is implicated in various chronic diseases and aging processes. Lactoferrin acts as a potent antioxidant, scavenging free radicals and mitigating oxidative damage to cells and tissues. By neutralizing reactive oxygen species, lactoferrin can help protect against oxidative stress-related ailments, including cardiovascular diseases and neurodegenerative disorders.
  4. Anti-inflammatory Properties: Chronic inflammation is a hallmark of many health conditions, ranging from autoimmune disorders to metabolic syndrome. Lactoferrin exerts anti-inflammatory effects by modulating cytokine production and inhibiting inflammatory pathways. Its ability to dampen excessive inflammation can contribute to the management of inflammatory conditions and promotes overall well-being.

As the body of scientific evidence supporting the health benefits of lactoferrin continues to grow, so does its utilization in functional nutrition formulations. Whether incorporated into dietary supplements, functional foods, or medical nutrition products, lactoferrin offers formulators a versatile ingredient with a broad spectrum of therapeutic effects.

Moreover, advancements in extraction and purification techniques have made it easier to obtain highly concentrated and bioavailable lactoferrin supplements, further enhancing its utility in functional nutrition applications.

In conclusion, lactoferrin represents a promising ingredient for formulators seeking to develop functional nutrition products that promote immune health, gut integrity, antioxidant defense, and overall well-being. With its multifaceted properties and expanding research base, lactoferrin is poised to remain a cornerstone of the functional nutrition industry, offering consumers effective solutions for optimizing their health and vitality.

A Great Whey to Enhance Health for Women 

With March being Women’s History Month and March 8th International Women’s Day, it’s a pertinent time to look at how one of our hero ingredients, whey protein, can support heath in women. When looking at certain areas of nutrition research, it’s been regularly reported that women are significantly less represented in studies than men. In 2021, an analysis of 6 top sport and exercise science journals found that out of over 5200 publications, only 6% included females only, compared to 31% for males and 63% for both male and female. However, this is starting to change, and more investments are being made in nutrition research focused on women. Here, we highlight some studies that demonstrate how whey protein can support several health benefits in women.  

Women show greater muscle building response to 25g whey protein than men.  

Muscle mass maintenance is mainly controlled by the increase in muscle protein synthesis following nutrient intake. While this has been extensively studied in men, it has been unclear if there is a difference in this response between women and men. This was tackled in a study which recruited 12 healthy men middle-aged men and 12 healthy middle-aged women to looked at their response to ingestion of 25g whey protein. Using isotopic tracers, muscle biopsies and blood markers, researchers assessed dietary protein digestion and amino acid absorption kinetics, as well as muscle protein synthesis rates both at rest and after feeding. Plasma amino acid levels rapidly increased after protein ingestion, with no differences between middle-aged women and men, and also no difference between men and women in the absorption level of the protein. Interestingly, women showed a higher muscle protein synthesis rate both in the initial two hours and full 5 hour-period after consuming the whey shake compared to men.  

Horstman et al. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2019 Apr 1;104(4):994-1004.  

Whey protein supplement increases satiety hormone levels and decreases central fat more than collagen supplement in women. 

Protein supplements are usually used to control body weight, however, the impact of protein quality on body fat reduction is unknown. A study investigating the effects of supplementation of either whey protein (WG) or hydrolysed collagen supplementation (CG) on dietary intake, adiposity and biochemical markers in overweight women set out to shed some light on this topic. In this randomized double-blind study, 37 women with a mean BMI >30 consumed sachets containing 40 g/day of concentrated whey protein (25 g total protein, 2.4 leucine, 1.0 valine, 1.5 isoleucine, n = 17) or 38 g/day of hydrolysed collagen (26 g total protein, 1.02 leucine, 0.91 valine, 0.53 isoleucine, n = 20) as an afternoon snack. Their dietary intake was then evaluated by a 6-day food record questionnaire. At the beginning and after eight weeks of follow-up, body composition and a number of blood markers were assessed, including metabolic markers and satiety hormones. Supplements provided the same amount of protein and calories. Intake of calories, protein, carbohydrate and fats were the same in both groups; however, intake of branched chain amino acids and leucine were significantly higher in the whey group compared to the collagen group. BMI increased in the collagen group, but not in the whey group. The whey group also found a decrease in android (central) fat and increase in nesfatain concentrations compared to the collagen group. Nestafin is a neuropeptide produced by the body that reduces appetite. Whey protein supplementation in overweight women increased nesfatin concentrations and could promote increase of resting metabolic rate as part of body composition improvement programs compared to collagen supplementation for 8 weeks. Additionally, our findings suggest that collagen may not be an effective supplement for overweight women who are attempting to alter body composition. 

Giglio et al. Nutrients. 2019 Sep 2;11(9):2051 

α-lactalbumin-rich whey protein improves sleep and recovery in female athletes. 

​​Strenuous exercise, particularly in the evening, can negatively impact sleep quality which can affect subsequent exercise performance. Researchers in Australia investigated whether supplementing with 40g alpha-lactalbumin (95% purity) vs standard WPI vs placebo after an evening exercise session impacted sleep quality in trained female athletes. They also looked at whether there was an effect on physical and cognitive performance the following day. They found that alpha-lac led to improvements in sleep characteristics compared to the WPI and placebo and prevented reductions in physical performance the following day. Furthermore, alpha-lac ​reduced ratings of mental effort and mental demand during cognitive tasks compared to whey protein isolate placebo and water.  

Miles et al. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2021 Dec 1;53(12):2618-2627.  

Whey protein improves blood glucose control and alleviates stress in gestational diabetes.  

Gestational diabetes is a condition in which women develop diabetes (high blood sugar) during pregnancy and affects up to 10% of pregnancies in the US. If unmanaged, it can increase the risk of high birth weight, early labor and type 2 diabetes in later life. Whey protein has previously been shown in adults to lower the glycaemic response to a meal, when consumed prior to the meal (“pre-load”), and this was recently investigated in women with gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM). Sixty women with gestational diabetes mellitus were recruited to a study in which half received a preload drink containing 20 g whey protein (GDM-W), and the other half received a control flavored drink (GDM), prior to a meal. The trial lasted for 14 days. Changes in stress hormones, oxidative stress and insulin resistance (IR) were measured. In the GDM-W group, postprandial blood glucose significantly decreased across various time points over the 14days, with an increase in plasma 2 h insulin, and significant decrease in insulin resistance on day 14. Markers of oxidative stress significantly decreased on day 14, along with a reduction in stress hormones and cortisol. This study demonstrated whey protein supplementation could be a useful strategy to improve hyperglycemia by alleviating stress disorder and oxidative stress injury in GDM women.  

Feng et al. Gynecol Endocrinol. 2021 Aug;37(8):753-757.  

Unveiling Consumer Flavor Trends in Sports Nutrition

In the dynamic landscape of sports nutrition, staying attuned to real-time consumer flavor trends is paramount for maintaining a competitive edge and driving product innovation. As pioneers in the field, it is imperative to leverage market insights and statistical data to decipher evolving consumer preferences and anticipate flavor trends that resonate. Let us delve into the latest statistics shaping the realm of sports nutrition flavors, offering valuable insights to inform your research and development endeavors.

Emerging Flavor Profiles

According to recent market research data, there has been a notable surge in demand for innovative and unconventional flavor profiles within the sports nutrition sector. Statistics reveal a significant uptick in consumer interest towards exotic fruit flavors such as dragonfruit, lychee, and passionfruit, reflecting a growing appetite for adventurous taste experiences among fitness enthusiasts. Furthermore, data indicates a rising preference for indulgent dessert-inspired flavors, with statistics showcasing a surge in demand for decadent options like salted caramel, cookies and cream, and peanut butter chocolate. By capitalizing on these emerging flavor trends, sports nutrition companies can captivate consumer interest and foster brand loyalty through product offerings that cater to evolving taste preferences.

Functional Ingredients: Flavor Fusion for Performance Enhancement

In addition to flavor innovation, the integration of functional ingredients into sports nutrition formulations presents an opportunity to enhance both flavor profiles and performance benefits. Statistics reveal a growing consumer interest in products infused with adaptogenic herbs and botanical extracts, with data indicating a notable increase in demand for flavors complemented by ingredients such as ashwagandha, rhodiola, and ginseng. Moreover, statistical insights underscore a rising demand for refreshing and invigorating flavor combinations infused with electrolytes and hydration-enhancing ingredients, catering to the needs of active individuals seeking optimal performance and recovery support. By aligning flavor innovation with the functional benefits of key ingredients, research and development teams can create synergistic formulations that elevate the sports nutrition experience and meet the diverse needs of consumers striving for peak performance.

Personalization and Customization: Navigating Flavor Diversity

As consumer preferences diversify and evolve, the demand for personalized and customizable flavor options within the sports nutrition space continues to gain momentum. Statistical data highlights a growing interest in modular flavor systems that empower consumers to tailor their nutritional supplements according to individual taste preferences and dietary requirements. Furthermore, insights reveal a burgeoning demand for clean label flavor solutions, with statistics indicating a preference for natural and organic flavorings derived from botanical sources such as vanilla, cinnamon, and citrus. By leveraging statistical insights to develop customizable flavor platforms and clean label solutions, research and development teams can empower consumers to personalize their sports nutrition experience while upholding transparency and integrity in product formulations.

In conclusion, real-time consumer flavor trends serve as invaluable guideposts for research and development efforts within the sports nutrition industry, offering a window into evolving taste preferences and market dynamics. By leveraging statistical data to inform flavor innovation, integrate functional ingredients, and embrace customization, research and development workers can spearhead the creation of innovative products that resonate with fitness enthusiasts worldwide, driving growth and differentiation in a competitive marketplace.

Harnessing the Potential of Dairy Proteins: Exploring Functional Applications

Young woman and man drinking protein shake after workout

In the realm of functional foods, dairy proteins hold immense potential. Unlock the opportunities by harnessing the unique functional properties of ingredients like Lactoferrin, Milk Fat Globule Membrane (MFGM), and alpha-lactalbumin. These remarkable components not only enrich the nutritional profile of products but also offer a plethora of functional benefits that cater to the diverse needs and preferences of consumers worldwide.

Diverse Applications for Enhanced Wellness

The versatility of dairy proteins opens up a world of possibilities. Lactoferrin, with its powerful antimicrobial and immune-enhancing properties, holds immense potential for applications in products targeting immune support and gut health. Similarly, MFGM, rich in bioactive lipids and proteins, has garnered attention for its role in cognitive development and mental well-being, making it a coveted ingredient in functional foods aimed at promoting brain health across all life stages. Meanwhile, alpha-lactalbumin, renowned for its high nutritional value and bioavailability, emerges as a frontrunner in formulations targeting muscle recovery, weight management, and sports nutrition. By leveraging these ingredients, dairy protein companies can create a diverse portfolio of functional foods that address a wide spectrum of health concerns, from bolstering immunity to optimizing cognitive function, and beyond.

Innovative Formulations for Consumer Delight

The duality of science and innovation unlocks endless possibilities for crafting functional foods that not only nourish the body but align with consumer tastes and preferences. Whether it’s formulating a RTM fortified with Lactoferrin for post-workout recovery or developing a decadent snack bar enriched with MFGM for cognitive support, the potential for creative product development is limitless. By combining the functional benefits of dairy proteins with innovative formulations and flavor profiles, companies can captivate consumers and carve out a niche in an increasingly competitive market landscape. Moreover, the integration of these ingredients into everyday staples such as yogurt, milk, and cheese presents an opportunity to enhance the nutritional value of traditional dairy products while meeting the evolving demands of health-conscious consumers.

Relaxed young sportswoman doing yoga and meditating in studio.

Pairing Lactoferrin, Milk Fat Globule membrane (MFGM), and alpha-lactalbumin with complementary functional ingredients amplifies their individual efficacy, unlocking synergistic health benefits and enhancing consumer appeal. Let’s explore potential pairings for each:

Lactoferrin:

  • Probiotics: Combining Lactoferrin with probiotics enhances gut health by promoting a balanced microbiome and reinforcing immune function.
  • Prebiotic Fibers: Pairing Lactoferrin with prebiotic fibers such as inulin or chicory root fiber nourishes beneficial gut bacteria, fostering gut health and overall well-being.
  • Vitamin C: The synergistic interaction between Lactoferrin and vitamin C strengthens immune function, offering robust defense against pathogens and oxidative stress.

Milk Fat Globule membrane (MFGM):

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Incorporating MFGM with omega-3 fatty acids, sourced from fish oil or algae, supports cognitive health and brain function, offering comprehensive cognitive support.
  • Choline: Pairing MFGM with choline-rich sources such as lecithin enhances neuronal signaling and neurotransmitter synthesis, promoting cognitive clarity and mental acuity.
  • Antioxidants: Combining MFGM with antioxidants like vitamin E or polyphenols fortifies cellular defense mechanisms, shielding brain cells from oxidative damage and preserving cognitive function.

Alpha-lactalbumin:

  • Branched-chain Amino Acids (BCAAs): Pairing alpha-lactalbumin with BCAAs, such as leucine, isoleucine, and valine, promotes muscle protein synthesis, enhances muscle recovery, and supports athletic performance.
  • Digestive Enzymes: Combining alpha-lactalbumin with digestive enzymes like proteases and lipases improves protein absorption and utilization, optimizing nutrient delivery to muscles and tissues.
  • Magnesium: Pairing alpha-lactalbumin with magnesium enhances muscle relaxation and recovery, mitigates exercise-induced muscle cramps, and supports overall muscle function and performance.

By strategically pairing Lactoferrin, MFGM, and alpha-lactalbumin with complementary functional ingredients, dairy protein companies can develop innovative formulations that offer holistic health benefits, catering to diverse consumer needs and preferences.

Protein: Back to Basics

How important is dietary protein?

Protein has been a mainstay in the diet of bodybuilders, sport and fitness fanatics for years, but the last couple of decades have seen huge growth in appreciation of this key macronutrient in the diet of all ages, stages, needs and health goals. Often referred to as the “mainstreaming of the sports nutrition market”, high protein products appear to be everywhere and consumers can meet their protein needs in a variety of ways; from Greek yogurt and ultra-filtered milk to protein cookies and bread, to protein shakes, sparkling protein water, and bars. But what are the benefits of higher protein diets, to which demographic, and does it matter where it comes from?

Benefits of Protein

Everyone needs protein in their diet for basic physiological functioning. About 16% of a lean adult’s body mass is protein, while skeletal muscle tissue in general is closer to 90%. Although it has a critical structural role in the body through muscle and connective tissue, such as ligaments and tendons, it also plays a huge functional role in components such as antibodies for immune responses, transporters, hormones, enzymes and many more. When it comes to muscle mass and staying active, evidence shows that optimizing protein intake can help to maintain muscle mass, manage weight by enhancing satiety, improve longevity, enhance recovery from injury, illness, and bedrest, improve endurance performance, and even support a good night’s sleep (with certain types of protein).

How much is recommended and when?

The recommended daily allowance (RDA), set at 0.8g/kg body weight, is the level required to avoid deficiencies and for basic functioning. However, general scientific opinion and evidence demonstrates that optimal intakes are greater than this and are linked to age, activity level and health goal. As highlighted in table 1, intakes between 1.1 and 2.2g/kg body weight can help support physical demands on the body and optimize body composition and health outcomes.

Table 1. Protein Intake Recommendations (iPG, 2018 https://www.internationalproteinboard.org/protein-matters/protein-requirements.htm)

The western diet tends to have protein intake skewed to the evening but spreading protein intake throughout the day can mean taking advantage of protein’s ability to help maintain muscle mass and may even enhance satiety throughout the day. Aim for at least 20-30g at each meal and even at snacks, to reach your daily optimal intake.

Does the type of protein matter?

Protein can be found in many foods and our daily protein intake comes from a variety of sources. The scientific evidence around the benefits that different protein sources can provide continues to improve and it is the topic of much debate, particularly with new, more sophisticated techniques to measure protein quality, and the increased marketing and availability of plant proteins. The newest protein quality assessment method, DIAAS (digestible indispensable amino acids score), gives us the most accurate insight into how well a protein is absorbed by the gut, and thus the extent to which it can satisfy human physiological needs. As shown in table 2, animal source proteins, such as whey protein and milk protein, have a significantly higher protein quality compared to plant source proteins, such as soy, pea and whole-grain wheat. Utilizing higher quality proteins can be particularly beneficial at certain times or for certain groups, such as recovery from exercise, enhanced satiety for weight management or weight loss, aging population who require a higher leucine intake (whey protein is the highest dietary source of this key amino acid), or intense metabolic demands like post-operative recovery and bedrest.

Where can you get protein from?

The table below provides some good examples of dietary protein sources, including the amount of essential amino acids (EAAs) and the all-important branched-chain amino acid, leucine.

Resources

International Protein Board (2018). Protein Matters: The Need to Re-evaluate the Adequacy and Application of Protein Requirements. www.internationalproteinboard.org

USDEC (2018). A New Era for Protein: Why U.S. Dairy Delivers in the Crowded Protein Marketplace www.thinkusadairy.org

BASES (2022). The BASES Expert Statement on protein recommendations for athletes: amount, type and timing. www.bases.org.uk

Nutrition Challenges For Aging: The Impact of Protein on Satiety and Energy Intake

Road running, fitness and senior couple training together on a exercise and workout run. Sports and health motivation of elderly man and woman runner in retirement living a healthy lifestyle.

The process of aging causes multiple physiological, psychological and social changes that affect food choice and consumption. Advancing age alters food reward signals, reduces food craving behavior, and suppresses appetite and energy intake, all of which contribute to a condition termed the “anorexia of ageing”. Compared with younger adults, older adults are reported to consume approximately 30% less energy per day. Dietary diversity (the number of different foods or food groups consumed over a given reference period) is also attenuated with ageing, with lower consumption of protein reported in older populations. Inadequate regulation of food and protein intake increases the risk of developing conditions such as sarcopenia and osteoporosis. Therefore, protein-energy homeostasis is considered a fundamental dietary-related determinant of healthy aging.

Dietary protein requirements increase with age, attributed partly to an increase in anabolic resistance to muscle protein synthesis (MPS), which accelerates loss of skeletal muscle mass and function. Maintaining muscle mass is essential to protect against falls, which are a leading cause of injury-related mortality in older people and a consequence of anorexia of ageing.

Despite the highly satiating effects of protein, interestingly, evidence suggests that older adults exhibit a blunted satiety response to protein consumption compared with younger adults. In fact, whey protein drinks have been shown to increase short-term total daily energy and protein intake in older people, even when the protein content of the drinks is very high. Another promising strategy for promoting energy and protein consumption in later life is the fortification of foods with protein. Increasing food volume to meet energy requirements is often unachievable in older groups, therefore, increasing energy and protein density while not affecting or reducing portion size, would be beneficial. As it is frequently reported that older adults consume inadequate amounts of protein, supplementing a healthy diet with additional high-quality protein may sufficiently stimulate MPS, without adversely affecting habitual appetite and food intake. However, further studies investigating compliance with long-term protein supplementation and the effects on satiety and energy intake are warranted.    

With the global population ageing (current UN projections expect 1.5 billion people over the age of 65 by 2050), innovative strategies to support protein-energy homeostasis are essential. Adopting a co-production approach involving academia, industry, practitioners and members of the public may stimulate the design of effective nutritional interventions, which consider age-related changes in physiology, cognition and lifestyle that affect appetite and dietary needs and preferences.

Further references and reading:

Bauer, J., Biolo, G., Cederholm, T., Cesari, M., Cruz-Jentoft, A.J., Morley, J.E., Phillips, S., Sieber, C., Stehle, P., Teta, D. and Visvanathan, R., 2013. Evidence-based recommendations for optimal dietary protein intake in older people: a position paper from the PROT-AGE Study Group. Journal of the American Medical Directors association14(8), pp.542-559.

Dent, E., Hoogendijk, E.O. and Wright, O.R., 2019. New insights into the anorexia of ageing: from prevention to treatment. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care22(1), pp.44-51. 

Lonnie, M., Hooker, E., Brunstrom, J.M., Corfe, B.M., Green, M.A., Watson, A.W., Williams, E.A., Stevenson, E.J., Penson, S. and Johnstone, A.M., 2018. Protein for life: Review of optimal protein intake, sustainable dietary sources and the effect on appetite in ageing adults. Nutrients10(3), p.360.

Morley, J.E., 1997. Anorexia of aging: physiologic and pathologic. The American journal of clinical nutrition66(4), pp.760-773.

Nishimura, Y., Højfeldt, G., Breen, L., Tetens, I. and Holm, L., 2021. Dietary protein requirements and recommendations for healthy older adults–A critical narrative review of the scientific evidence. Nutrition research reviews, pp.1-48.

Highlights From the International Lactoferrin Conference

Every second year for the past 30 years, the top lactoferrin researchers gather to present, disseminate, and discuss the most recent research on this incredible ingredient for health, growth and development in infants and adults. With almost 11,000 published scientific papers on the topic, much is already known about its benefits; however, the presentations and wide-ranging research that is ongoing highlighted that many benefits and mechanisms are only just being discovered.   

Lactoferrin is a whey protein fraction that occurs naturally in both bovine and human milk. First isolated in 1939 and used in infant formula since the ‘80s, it’s an iron-binding glycoprotein that’s also found in supplements, gummies and even dental products. Its most researched benefits are highlighted in figure 1.  

Figure 1. Lactoferrin Benefits

Presenters from across the globe presented the influence of lactoferrin on many areas of health, including: 

  • Cystic fibrosis 
  • Inhibition of SARS-CoV2 virus 
  • Antifungal properties 
  • Hyper-ferritinemia (excess levels of the iron-binding protein, ferritin) 
  • Lowering iron levels in infant formula without negatively impacting growth or iron status 
  • Hair greying abstract. 
  • Cancer treatment and reduced tumor growth  
  • Cognitive function and protection 
  • Parkinsons Disease  
  • Reduced recurrence of bacterial vaginosis 

With so many potential benefits, it can sometimes seem too good to be true. But when digging into the mechanisms behind it, lactoferrin’s ability to bind iron is key in its function across many conditions of health and disease.  

Lactoferrin has a greater iron-binding capacity than the more commonly recognized protein, transferrin, which is renowned for transporting iron throughout the body. This iron-binding capacity helps enhance the iron status in adults and infants. This was highlighted in a couple of presentations; 1. Where the addition of lactoferrin to an infant formula meant the level of additional iron in the formula could be reduced, and still had the same benefit on overall infant growth and iron status. 2. Hyper-ferritinemia, a condition in which the body has too much iron, was also improved with lactoferrin supplementation.  

When it comes to its anti-microbial properties, there is no doubt of this protein’s benefits. In vitro work highlighted its ability to favorably impact the response to rotavirus infection, RSV and SARS-CoV2. It was a similar story when looking at the influence of bovine lactoferrin on fungal strains like Candida albicans, with an inhibition of growth with lactoferrin compared to control.  

An emerging area is the impact lactoferrin can have on bacterial vaginosis, BV, a persistent, recurring condition who’s treatment is mainly antibiotics that do not help mitigate recurrence.

Alpha-lactalbumin: Enabling Higher Quality Infant Formula

Care, woman feeding her baby with bottle and in living room on the sofa at their home. Family love, drinking or nutrition and black mother feed her newborn child on couch of their house with formula.

Breastfeeding is recommended by the World Health Organization as the best option for the developing infant1. Where breastfeeding is not possible, infant formulas provide a nutritious substitute, with advances in technology enabling more sophisticated formulas to be produced.

Both human and bovine milk are complex matrices of nutrients and bioactive compounds, developed by nature to support growth and development. The protein in both human and bovine milk is composed of two main types: whey and casein, although the ratio of these varies between species; from 60:40 whey:casein in mature human milk, to 20:80 in cows’ milk. Both types of proteins are high quality, meaning they have an excellent essential amino acid profile that is well digested and absorbed by the body.

Whey and casein themselves are composed of different protein fractions and figure 1 shows the differences in whey protein fractions between these milk sources2.

Figure 1. Whey protein profiles of breastmilk and cows’ milk (from sweet whey)2

Whey proteins in general and their constituent fractions have shown many nutritional and physiological benefits across the lifespan, not least, supporting infant growth and development. During digestion in the small intestine, whey proteins are broken down to amino acids and peptides, with the latter being suggested to exert physiological effects beyond just amino acid absorption.

BENEFITS OF ALPHA-LACTALBUMIN

Sleep-wake cycle

Sleep is critical for infant growth and development, particularly brain development3. Serotonin and melatonin are known to be key regulators of sleep across the lifespan; however, serotonin cannot cross the blood-brain barrier, thus it must be synthesized within the brain. The amino acid tryptophan is a precursor for serotonin and an amino acid able to cross the blood-brain barrier, hence it plays an important role in serotonin production.

Figure 2. Transport of TRP across blood-brain-barrier and subsequent serotonin synthesis.

The mean concentration of tryptophan in breast milk is around 2.5%, whereas standard formulas are only around 1-1.5%2. As discussed later, utilizing bovine alpha-lactalbumin in infant formulas can close this gap, as alpha-lactalbumin rich ingredients are higher in tryptophan than standard whey protein powders.

The influence of tryptophan-rich infant formula on sleep has been demonstrated in clinical trials. In one study, researchers looked at the influence of either tryptophan-rich infant formula during the day with standard formula at night (INV), vs tryptophan-rich formula at night with standard formula during the day (EXP), vs a standard formula control4. The standard formula contained 1.5% tryptophan, whereas the experimental formula contained 3.4% tryptophan. The researchers found that the EXP group had a greater total sleep time, better sleep efficiency (total time in the crib/total sleep time), more immobility time, and fewer night movements and waking episodes than the other groups (see figure 3).

Gastrointestinal and Immune Function

The infant gut is immature, and a number of factors influence its development, most notably the nutrients and bioactive compounds found in milk. With protein being a main component of mammalian milk, it’s no surprise this key nutrient influences gut and immune function.

Specifically, alpha-lactalbumin likely exerts some of its beneficial impact on gut development and immune health through the release of bioactive peptides in the small intestine. For example, it has been reported that three of the bioactive peptides released from alpha-lactalbumin, rather than alpha itself, demonstrate anti-microbial properties5.

In addition to serotonin’s influence on the sleep/wake cycle and central nervous system, it has also been reported to play a key role in gut motility and immune capability, while tryptophan itself has regulatory roles within the gut2.

Differences in the microbiome of breastfed and formula fed infants have been observed, with breastfed infants predominantly showing Lactobacillus and a diverse population of Bifidobacterium, while formula fed infants microbiome is more reflective of adults with more diversity6. Meanwhile, peptides from alpha-lactalbumin digestion have been reported to exert prebiotic benefits7.

One study investigated the incidence of E-coli induced diarrhea incidents in rhesus monkeys fed either standard formula, alpha-enriched formula or breastmilk8. Researchers found that not only were there fewer incidents in the alpha-fed monkeys than those fed standard formula, but this group also did not differ from the breastfed group, highlighting a closer match to the gold-standard recommendation.

A CLOSER MATCH TO MOTHER’S MILK

o ensure sufficient intake of amino acids in standard formulas, the overall protein level has traditionally been higher than that of breastmilk. However, this has been suggested as a cause of some of the longer term metabolic and health differences observed between breastfed and formula fed infants9. It is also thought to be a factor in the growth differences observed between breastfed and formula fed infants2.

By better matching the protein profile of breastmilk through ingredients such as alpha-lactalbumin, the overall protein content of infant formulas can be lowered, while still meeting infant’s amino acid needs and without compromising growth, development and long term 

health10.

Although standard bovine whey protein does contain some alpha-lactalbumin (~15-20% of total whey protein), utilization of advanced membrane and processing technologies enables manufacturers to increase the level of alpha-lactalbumin in whey protein ingredients, thus allowing infant formula producers to bring formulations closer to the composition of breastmilk.

This closer matching to breastmilk is supported by the similar amino acid composition of bovine and human alpha-lactalbumin, as shown figure 2.11.

Figure 4. Amino acid composition of alpha-lactalbumin from both cows’ milk and human milk11

CONCLUSION

Whey protein is composed of several protein fractions, with alpha-lactalbumin being the largest fraction in human milk. Bovine alpha has a very similar amino acid profile to human alpha and utilizing it as an ingredient in infant formula enables growth, development and nutritional support closer to breastfed infants. Alpha has been shown to have a number of benefits, including supporting the sleep-wake cycle, immune system and gut development. Breastfeeding is recommended as the optimal choice for infant growth and development. When this is not possible, sophisticated formulas – such as those containing alpha-lactalbumin – provide a valuable substitute.


NutriPRO™ Alpha-lac Offerings

At Milk Specialties Global, our scientists and engineers work relentlessly to create high-quality ingredients designed to optimize health and nutrition. With this in mind, our NutriPRO™ Alpha-Enriched range was developed to enable infant formula manufacturers to provide more sophisticated products that better support infant growth and development. Within this range are both whey protein concentrates and isolates, with 2 to 3 times the level of alpha in standard whey protein.

REFERENCES 

  1. Victoria et al (2016). The Lancet, 387:475-490
  2. Layman et al (2018). Nutr Rev 76(6):444-460
  3. Nieuwenhuizen et al (2008). Br J Nutr 101(12):1859-1866
  4. Aparicio et al (2007). Nutritional Neuroscience, 10:3-4, 137-143
  5. Pellegrini et al (1999). Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA), 1426(3)
  6. Harmsen et al (2003). J Paed Gast Nutr, 30:61-67
  7. Kee et al, 1998. Korean J Dairy Sci, 20:61-68
  8. Bruck et al (2003). J Ped Gastr Nutr, 37:273-280
  9. Sandström et al (2008). Am J Clin Nut, 87 (4):921-8
  10. Oropeza-Cej et al (2018). Nutrients, 10:886
  11. Lönnerdal and Lien (2003). Nutr Rev, 61(9):295-305