Meat can be an important source of much-needed protein in an infant’s diet during the transition to solid foods, according to the study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
The researchers found the pureed meats promoted a greater rate of growth — with length of nearly one inch greater compared to the dairy-fed group at 12 months of age, with no increase in risk of being overweight at the completion of the seven-month study.
“Meat, such as pork, provides important micronutrients, is an excellent source of protein and can be an important complementary food for infants who are ready for solid foods,” said lead study author Minghua Tang, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at University of Colorado Denver-Anschutz, in the US.
In the study, a small group of healthy, formula-fed infants ate meat-based complementary foods, such as pureed ham and beef, or dairy-based complementary foods from ages five to 12 months old, increasing their protein intake from two grams of protein per kg each day before the study up to three grams per kg each day during the study period.
“Our research suggests introducing higher amounts of protein and introducing meat, such as pork, into the diet at five months could be potentially beneficial for linear growth (length gain),” Tang said.
While the protein increased, both calories and fat intakes stayed the same between the meat and dairy groups, regardless of protein source.
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Vitamin D can help tackle diabetes
Boosting vitamin D — often referred to as the sunshine vitamin because it is created in our skin in response to direct sunlight — can help tackle diabetes, according to a study from the Salk Institute.
The condition is caused by faulty beta cells in the pancreas. These cells manufacture and release insulin, the hormone essential for controlling glucose levels in the blood.
If beta cells produce too little insulin, or none at all, glucose can accumulate in the blood at levels that are toxic to cells and tissues.
Researchers from the Salk Institute have reported a potential new approach for treating diabetes by protecting beta cells.
Previous studies have found a connection between low vitamin D levels and a higher risk of diabetes, but the mechanisms involved have been challenging to unravel.
The researchers found that a particular compound — called iBRD9 — boosted the activity of vitamin D receptors when they were bound to vitamin D molecules. This had a protective effect on the beta cells.
They demonstrated that, in a mouse model of diabetes, iBRD9 brought glucose levels back down into the normal range.
When beta cells become dysfunctional, the body can’t make insulin to control blood sugar (glucose) and levels of glucose can rise to dangerous, even fatal, levels.
“We know that diabetes is a disease caused by inflammation,” explained senior author Ronald Evans adding, “In this study, we identified the vitamin D receptor as an important modulator of both inflammation and beta cell survival.”
The team accomplished this by conducting a screening test to look for compounds that improved the survival of beta cells in a dish. They then tested the combination in a mouse model of diabetes and showed that it could bring glucose back to normal levels in the animals.
“This study started out by looking at the role of vitamin D in beta cells,” said first author Zong Wei. “Epidemiological studies in patients have suggested a correlation between high vitamin D concentrations in the blood and a lower risk of diabetes, but the underlying mechanism was not well understood. It’s been hard to protect beta cells with the vitamin alone. We now have some ideas about how we might be able to take advantage of this connection.”
The underlying process has to do with transcription the way that genes are translated into proteins. Combining the new compound with vitamin D allowed certain protective genes to be expressed at much higher levels than they are in diseased cells.
The discovery’s implications can have far-reaching implications: It identifies a basic mechanism that can be translated into drugging many different targets in the clinic.
The findings appeared in the journal Cell.
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