Monday, March 14, 2016

Raw Milk + Honey Accelerates DOMS Recovery of Trained Athletes Compared to Chocolate Milk, But There's a Catch...

While many US officials still believe that raw milk was a threat to public health. The internet is full of (often hilarious) health claims related to raw milk and the ill effects of pasturization. Could the study at hand provide evidence this is not complete bogus?
Maybe you remember that I have been talking with my friend Carl Lanore about raw milk, pasteurization and (even worse) homogenization several times when I still had the time to do the weekly SuppVersity Science Round-Ups on SuperHumanRadio. Until now, the evidence for the often proclaimed benefits of raw milk are skinny. With the publication of a recent study by Andrew Hatchett and colleagues from the Franklin Pierce University this evidence the number of relevant studies has therefore increased significantly.

What makes the study so relevant? Well, it was a randomized human trial in twenty healthy male collegiate sprint football (mean age 20y; height ~175cm, weight ~80kg; 1RM back squat of ~125kg; 80% RM back squat of ~100kg), not any old rodent study.
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There's one thing that reduces the relevance of the data, though. Instead of objective markers of recovery, such as post-recovery strength tests or at least CK and LDH levels, the scientists gave their subjects a questionnaires, prior to completing a lower extremity DOMS protocol, to determine the level of discomfort and functional limitations at baseline.

Upon a second visit to the lab, the subjects were then randomly assigned to consume 240 mL of raw milk (RMS sweetened with honey to make up for the sugar in the chocolate milk) or a chocolate milk "placebo" (CMS) before completing the same set of exercise and filling the same set of questionnaires immediately post, 24-, 48- and 72-h post DOMS protocol. Additionally, the scientists contacted the subjects 10 days after the test to learn if any negative effects were experienced as a result of ingesting either solution.
Figure 1: Changes in reported visual acuity scale (VAS) score regarding lower extremity muscle soreness pre-exercise induced muscle soreness (EIMS) protocol, directly post EIMS, 24 h, 48 h and 72 h post-EIMS for both the Raw Milk Solution (RMS) group and the Chocolate Milk Solution (CMS | Hatchett. 2016).
As you can see in Figure 1, both groups reported an increase in lower extremity discomfort at each data collection interval post-DOMS protocol (post, 24-, 48- and 72-h). In that, the participants who received the raw milk saw an initially higher increase in DOMS which then dropped to a slightly lower levels than in the chocolate milk group after 72h.
Milk and diabetes? Scientists get to the bottom of anti-diabetic effects of milk: It's the mix that makes all the difference: While individual components may not be present in sufficient concentration to produce a physiological effect such an effect may be obtained by several components acting in concert.  PPAR-α, -β and -γ agonists as well milk fat bioactive compounds that induce uncoupling protein-1 expression in brown adipose tissue may explain the suppression of diet-induced obesity and improvement in insulin sensitivity, review concludes (Parodi. 2016).
The scientists' statistical analysis of the difference, revealed that the relevance of the differences at baseline and 24h post is unclear, while the advantage of the raw milk at 48h and 72h was likely relevant. The 10-day follow-up did, as you probably already expected, not reveal any negative side effects. Overall, the results were thus in line with previous studies suggesting that the consumption of a milk-based solution with an elevated carbohydrate level reduces the DOMS (Cockburn. 2012).

As the scientists point out, though, it "has not been reported prior to this study is the difference between a raw milk solution and a commercially available milk solution with elevated carbohydrate levels" (Hatchett. 2016). So, does raw milk actually work the magic that its advocates say is lost due to the pasteurization process which is supposed to denature the macronutrients and many of the micronutrients present in the milk? Maybe...
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Maybe? Yes, maybe! Firstly, the difference between the groups is small and only "likely" relevant. Secondly, the measures are subjective and (at least for a physicist like myself) not really reliable. And thirdly and most importantly, the honey the scientists added to the milk could have made all the difference. After all, honey contains a number of antioxidants from a variety of sources, including polyphenolics; and polyphenols, albeit from other sources, have previously been shown to reduce lipid peroxidation by inhibiting peroxyl radical activation and stabilize cell membranes ... and yes, these are putative mechanisms for reducing DOMS by the means of polyphenol supplements (Radak. 2012) | Comment on Facebook!.
  • Cockburn, Emma, et al. "Effect of volume of milk consumed on the attenuation of exercise-induced muscle damage." European journal of applied physiology 112.9 (2012): 3187-3194.
  • Hatchett, Andrew, et al. "A Comparison between Chocolate Milk and a Raw Milk Honey Solution’s Influence on Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness." Sports 4.1 (2016): 18.
  • Parodi PW. "Cooperative action of bioactive components in milk fat with PPARs may explain its anti-diabetogenic properties." Med Hypotheses 89 (2016):1-7.
  • Radak, Zsolt, et al. "Nitric oxide: Is it the cause of muscle soreness?." Nitric Oxide 26.2 (2012): 89-94.