What Does "Easy to Digest" Mean?

"Easy to digest" is a factual statement characterizing the evidence of more rapid digestion of whey-dominant formula, like Bloom & Blossom Ultra Gentle Infant Formula, relative to those formulas that are based on whole cow's milk

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Easy to Digest Infant Formula Claim

The basis of the "easy to digest" infant formula claim centers on the fact that infant formulas have been developed to have a predominance of whey protein relative to casein, as is the case with human milk. Typical whey dominant infant formulas have 60% whey and 40% casein. Before the development of these formulations, infant formulas were made with intact cow's milk protein containing more than 80% caseins and less than 20% whey protein.

When exposed to stomach acids, caseins form curds that are believed to empty the stomach slowly. Confirmation of slower gastric emptying of casein-dominant infant formulas was demonstrated in infants fed casein-based or whey-based formulas via gastrostomy tubes (Fried et al, 1992). Additionally, casein and its hydrolysates (beta-casomorphins) were shown to slow gastrointestinal motility in animals (Daniel et al, 1990).

Evidence of more rapid human digestion and absorption of whey proteins than caseins was proved in 1997 when labeled caseins and labeled whey proteins were fed to adults (Boirie et al, 1997). Amino acids from labeled whey proteins appeared much more rapidly in the blood than amino acids from labeled caseins.

These types of studies have been extended to demonstrate that peptides derived from the intact labeled whey proteins also appear faster in the jejunum than peptides derived from caseins (Boutrou et al, 2013). This evidence supports the previous observations on differential gastric emptying; faster absorption of amino acids from whey protein results in a short-term increase in muscle protein synthesis and protein accretion (Pennings et al, 2011).

Models of digestive systems suggest differences in the rates of digestion of whey and casein is even greater among infants than among adults (Dupont et al, 2010a). In addition, the processing of milk proteins using heat (as used in manufacture of infant formula) produces some casein fragments that are resistant to digestion (Dupont et al, 2010b).

In conclusion, "easy to digest" is a factual statement characterizing the evidence of more rapid digestion of whey-dominant formula, like Bloom & Blossom Ultra Gentle Infant Formula, relative to those formulas that are based on whole cow's milk. In countries where it is required that all formula be whey dominant, such claims may not be appropriate.

References

Boirie Y, Dangin M, Gachon P, Vasson MP, Maubois JL, Beaufrère B. 1997 Slow and fast dietary proteins differently modulate postprandial protein accretion. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 94:14930-5.

Boutrou R, Gaudichon C, Dupont D, Jardin J, Airinei G, Marsset-Baglieri A, Benamouzig R, Tomé D, Leonil J. 2013 Sequential release of milk protein-derived bioactive peptides in the jejunum in healthy humans. Am J Clin Nutr 97:1314-23.

Daniel H, Vohwinkel M, Rehner G. 1990 Effect of casein and beta-casomorphins on gastrointestinal motility in rats. J Nutr. 120:252-7.

Dupont D, Mandalari G, Molle D, Jardin J, Léonil J, Faulks RM, Wickham MS, Mills EN, Mackie AR. 2010a Comparative resistance of food proteins to adult and infant in vitro digestion models. Mol Nutr Food Res. 54:767-80.

Dupont D, Mandalari G, Mollé D, Jardin J, Rolet-Répécaud O, Duboz G, Léonil J, Mills CE, Mackie AR. 2010b Food processing increases casein resistance to simulated infant digestion. Mol Nutr Food Res. 54:1677-89.

Fried MD, Khoshoo V, Secker DJ, Gilday DL, Ash JM, Pencharz PB. 1992 Decrease in gastric emptying time and episodes of regurgitation in children with spastic quadriplegia fed a whey-based formula. J Pediatr. 120:569-72.

Pennings B, Boirie Y, Senden JM, Gijsen AP, Kuipers H, van Loon LJ. 2011 Whey protein stimulates postprandial muscle protein accretion more effectively than do casein and casein hydrolysate in older men. Am J Clin Nutr. 93:997-1005.