Milk: A model for nutrition in the 21st Century

J. Bruce German, Cora J. Morgan, Robert E. Ward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The agricultural and food communities are seeking to develop foods that provide enhanced health to each individual. Unfortunately, the means to achieve this goal are not apparent. Public health is largely based on reversing existing disease or preventing diseases of essential nutrient deficiencies, Scientists have not reached agreement as to what physiological targets would be used to discover foods that improve the health of already healthy individuals. Fortunately, there is a biological model that can be used to achieve such a goal mammalian milk. Milk provides myriad examples of food ingredients, designed by selective Darwinian evolutionary pressure, to provide benefits to health and that improve the competitive success of offspring. The health benefits that milk has already been recognised to provide include highly creative strategies to promote health, such as stimulating beneficial microflora, enhancing the absorption of nutrients, protecting the consumer by binding and eliminating toxins and pathogens, and educating the immune system to the presence of potential pathogens. The new tools of biotechnology make it possible to take different approaches to studying the components of milk, not only the ingested proteins and their structures, their catalytic activities and products as proteins, oligosaccharides and lipids, but determining how they are regulated, what their evolutionary history is and how they perform their specific functions. Analyses of mammalian genomes are illuminating the genes responsible for milk and how they vary in sequence and expression with species, lactation, time and physiological state. The knowledge emerging about milk's structures, functions and benefits is guiding scientists to new targets of food ingredients, new benefits from consuming specific foods and how to assemble delicious foods that deliver safety, quality, convenience, delight and improved health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-54
Number of pages6
JournalAustralian Journal of Dairy Technology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Food Science


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