NIG Nutrition Goat Milk

Public Summary

Effects of ruminant milk on nutritional value and digestive comfort in older adults

Principal Investigator: Professor Warren McNabb | Professor of Nutrition | Deputy Director Riddet Institute | Massey University | Manawatū (Turitea)

Industry Partner: NIG Nutritionals Limited

The proposed project builds on research that showed inter-species nutrient compositional differences in milk (particularly in caprine and ovine milk) leads to a diversity in structural assemblies and changes in nutrient digestion kinetics, with potential impact on digestion and metabolism longer-term. Two studies have investigated the acute (4-6 hour) postprandial digestive responses (nutrient appearance, digestive comfort) when young adults consume different ruminant milk products in amounts above habitual consumption.

This study aims to compare digestive and metabolic responses and impact on protein status of healthy older adults to the daily addition of caprine, ovine, or bovine milk to their habitual diet for 12-weeks in a home setting. Comparisons will be made between milk groups, and between milk groups and the control group (habitual diet with no additional milk). Acute digestive responses will also be evaluated at specific time points during the intervention. The proposed project is a multi-arm, randomised, controlled, parallel design with 120 healthy men and women aged 50- to 65-years.

The main objectives of the study are to:

  • Determine the longer-term impacts of ruminant milk consumption on the nutritional status and metabolism of healthy older adults, utilising nutritional markers, body composition and muscle strength.
  • Determine the acute and longer term effects of ruminant milk consumption on ease, frequency, and severity of gastrointestinal discomfort symptoms of healthy older adults, using a globally accepted symptom matrix to compare baseline readings with weekly benchmarks; and
  • Determine longer-term impacts of ruminant milk consumption on the faecal microbiota composition and function and metabolome of older adults utilising distinct HVN capabilities.

This project will be conducted with contractual support from NIG ($XX cash). NIG, Miraka and Spring Sheep Dairy will contribute in-kind caprine, bovine and ovine whole milk powder, respectively.

Several collaborations will be part of this project. The University of Otago will conduct the clinical study, standard laboratory and nutritional marker analyses, and DEXA scan. The New Zealand Milks Mean More (NZ3M) Endeavour programme will fund the intervention arm with ovine whole milk powder and associated laboratory analyses and cover 50% of the cost for the control arm. The Riddet Institute at Massey University will also undertake amino acid analyses. The HVN Digestive Health Priority Research Programme will carry out the systems nutrition analyses (microbiota composition and function, metabolome) planned for the NIG study.

The project aligns with the HVN aim of developing high-value foods with validated health benefits to drive economic growth. Consuming ruminant milk confers nutritional and digestive health benefits in infants and children. However, the longer-term impact on nutritional benefits and digestive comfort in older individuals has yet to be clarified. The outcomes may support the formulation of unique milk products with health messaging related to digestive comfort, diet quality, and measures of quality of life, sleep quality and mood while also potentially bringing increased economic benefits to New Zealand ovine and caprine producers.

This project may lead to further activity, including investigating the effects of ruminant milk in older adults with known digestive discomfort (e.g., non-lactose dairy intolerance).