Contribution of Milk and Milk Products in Developing Immunity


Suman Chaudharya, Neha Thakurb and Vandana Chaudharyc*

The last two years of struggle with corona pandemic made all of us to realize the importance of sound proof health and immunity. It reminds me of a well said hindi phrase, “Pehla Sukh Nirogi Kaya” which means, our first asset is healthy sound body. As we saw, everything whether its education, transport, economy; got affected due to COVID-19 all over the world. Thus the situation of last two years is well enough to prove that everything comes after health and different patterns of proliferation and post effect of disease among people also clearly showed if we have good immunity power, no disease can harm us; how much lethal it is. A good immune system can’t be developed in one day, it’s a continuous process of combination of good food intake and exercises.

While no foods or dietary supplements can prevent COVID-19 or any other infection, evidence shows that a healthy diet and good nutrition play a significant role in building a strong and healthy immune system. It has been known for a long time that under-nutrition and malnutrition can have major impacts on immune system and increase the risk of infections. It is also known that the activation of immune system increases the demand for energy and certain nutrients, affecting nutritional status. Dairy is an important component of a healthy dietary pattern and associated with positive health outcomes.

Milk is important component of our diet, especially in north and central India. Milk and dairy products provide richness in nutrient and essential amino acids that boosts our immunity system. These multiple nutrients found in milk and dairy products (such as milk, cheese, yoghurt) are important for optimal immune function. Different components found in milk are - high quality protein, Selenium, Zinc, Vitamin A, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D- present in fortified milks, Vitamin B2,Vitamin B3, calcium, phosphorus, potassium. Milk is said to be a complete food. It is having almost all components of food except Vitamin C and Iron.

Milk is wholesome source of protein. In fact high biological value protein comes from dairy products such as milk, curd, paneer. Milk and milk products are also main sources of the sleep-inducing amino acid tryptophan which, is involved in the regulation of caloric intake via serotonin thus lowering carbohydrate and fat intake thus inhibiting the most powerful hypothalamic orexigen peptides.  Sleeping effect helps in augmenting healing process in case of infections. Milk products like yoghurt also improves natural killer cell activity and lowers the risk of respiratory infections.

Many fermented dairy products contain active bacterial cultures such as probiotics, which may support healthy gut microbiota. The gut microbiome plays an essential role in building and maintaining the immune system, both at the intestinal barrier and systemically. The intestinal barrier regulates immune homeostasis and secretes factors such as immunoglobulins, macrophages and natural killer cells, into the intestinal lumen to stop pathogens attaching to or invading the mucosal tissues.

Immunoglobins present in regular bovine cheese whey or colostrum from non-immunised cows provides protection and therapeutic effects against range of microbial infections including diarrhoeal or gastrointestinal infections of new-born farm animals and humans. There are also reports of treatment of patients with autoimmune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) with 10 g/d of normal bovine colostral Ig concentrate for 10 days. Immunoglobins are those antibodies, which are secreted by mammals in response to microbial infections. Among different immunoglobins present in Bovine colostrum, IgG comprises 80-90% of total, while IgM & IgA are found in lesser amount. These are having multiple functions including fixation of complement system, opsonisation, inhibition of binding of pathogenic microbes to endothelial lining, blockage of bacterial enzymes & metabolism, agglutination of microbes and removal of toxins and viruses.

All the nine essential amino acids present in the milk are necessary for principal functioning of body. Milk from grass fed cow is known to have higher omega three fatty acid content (particularly linolenic acid), conjugated linolenic acid content, Vitamin E and Beta Carotene. Vitamin A present in milk products support gut and respiratory system’s tissues, Vitamin D helps in keeping our gut system intact and also protects our  body against lung infections, Zinc maintains skin integrity while protein helps in quick healing and gets our body to recover faster. These are also rich in potassium which may help keep blood pressure in check; thereby diminishing the possibility of Cardio-Vascular disease in the future.

Therefore it is high time to think about strengthening our own immune system and health particularly as self-care is mandatory not an option. With introduction of Western culture, milk is losing its importance from traditional Indian diet, which earlier used to be. With this pattern we are also observing high incidence of Lactose intolerance and other complications. We should include milk and other healthier and more digestible form of milk products in our diet by considering its immense benefits.

Author’s Bio 
a Department of VPB, Lala Lajpat Rai University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Hisar, Haryana 125001
b Department of Livestock Products Technology, Lala Lajpat Rai University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Hisar, Haryana 125001
c College of Dairy Science and Technology, Lala Lajpat Rai University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Hisar, Haryana 125001
* Corresponding author

•Korhonen H, Marnila P and Gill HS. (2000) Bovine milk antibodies for health. British Journal of Nutrition 84(1):S135-S146.
•Mehra R, Marnila P, Korhonen H. (2006) Milk immunoglobulins for health promotion. International Dairy Journal 16:1262-1271.
•Muscogiuri G, Barrea L, Savastano S and Colao A. (2020) Nutritional recommendations for CoVID-19 quarantine. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 74:850-851.
•Park, Young W and George F.W. Haenlein. (2021). A2 Bovine Milk and Caprine Milk as a Means of Remedy for Milk Protein Allergy. Dairy 2(2):191-201.
•Peuhkuri K, Sihvola N and Korpela R. (2012) Diet promotes sleep duration and quality. Nutrition Research 32:309-19.
•Rump JA, Arndt R and Arnold A. (1992) Treatment of diarrhoea in human immunodeficiency virus infected patients with immunoglobulins from bovine colostrum. Clinical Investigator 70:588-594.