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Up to now, genetic selection in cattle has been directed in favour of muscle growth, which changes muscle characteristics, and hence meat quality. One key concern, that now needs examination, is to understand the relationships between muscle growth and muscle characteristics related to meat quality. To achieve such a goal, muscles of divergently selected animals were analysed by three complementary approaches: (i) determination of muscle biochemical characteristics, (ii) identification of differentially expressed genes using transcriptomic and proteomic tools, (iii) identification of Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNP) within candidate genes.
The gut is an obvious target for the development of functional foods, acting as it does as the interface between diet and the metabolic events which sustain life. The key processes in digestive physiology which can be regulated by modifying diet are satiety, the rate and extent of macronutrient breakdown and absorption from the small bowel, sterol metabolism, the colonic microflora, fermentation, mucosal function and bowel habit, and the gut immune system. The intestinal microflora is the main focus of many current functional foods. Probiotics are foods which contain live bacteria which are beneficial to health whilst prebiotics, such as certain non-digestible oligosaccharides which selectively stimulate the growth of bifidobacteria in the colon, are already on the market. Their claimed benefits are to alleviate lactose maldigestion, increase resistance to invasion by pathogenic species of bacteria in the gut, stimulate the immune system and possibly protect against cancer. There are very few reports of well-designed human intervention studies with prebiotics as yet. Certain probiotic species have been shown to shorten the duration of rotavirus diarrhoea in children but much more work is needed on the mechanism of immunomodulation and of competitive exclusion and microflora modification. The develop-ment of functional foods for the gut is in its infancy and will be successful only if more fundamental research is done on digestive physiology, the gut microflora, immune system and mucosal function.
True fractional Ca absorption from six foods was measured in twelve normal healthy women, aged 20–29 years. The tested foods were commercially available fresh cheese, fresh cheese prepared by new technology and rich in Ca, similar cheese with added Fe, enteral food, mineral water alone and combined with a spaghetti meal. The aim of the study was to investigate: (1) Ca absorption from a new Ca-rich fresh cheese and to compare it with that from the traditional commercial type of fresh cheese; (2) the effect of Fe enrichment of the new cheese on Ca absorption; (3) Ca absorption from the mineral water and the enteral product and to compare it with that from the dairy products; (4) the effect of a meal combined with the mineral water on Ca absorption. All test foods were consumed by all subjects according to a design with two Latin squares. Each treatment of 2 d was followed by a wash-out period of 2 weeks. Ca absorption was measured using a double stable-isotope (44Ca and 48Ca) extrinsic labelling technique. Mean fractional Ca absorption from the new fresh cheese was not significantly different from that from the traditional type (37·7 (SD 10·2)% v. 42·2 (SD 11·6)%). The addition of Fe to the new cheese did not significantly influence Ca absorption. Ca-absorption values from the mineral water (37·0 (SD 98) %) and from the enterd product (42·6 (SD 11·4)%) were not significantly different from those from the dairy products (37·7–42·2%, SD 10·2–11·6%). The co-ingestion of a spaghetti meal with the mineral water significantly enhanced Ca absorption from 37 (SD 9·8)% to 46·1 (SD 11·7)%. It is concluded that a new process leading to a fresh cheese with a higher Ca concentration does not alter Ca bioavailability compared with the standard technology and for a constant Ca supply. Thus this new fresh cheese would probably provide more Ca than the standard one. The fractional Ca-absorption values for mineral water and the enteral product indicate that these products can make an interesting contribution to Ca supply for populations with a low Ca intake and patients with specilic diseases respectively.
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