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Title: Protein source and quality in therapeutic foods affect the immune response and outcome in severe acute malnutrition

item MANARY, MARK - Children'S Nutrition Research Center (CNRC)

Submitted to: Food and Nutrition Bulletin
Publication Type: Review Article
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/1/2013
Publication Date: 6/1/2013
Citation: Manary, M.J. 2013. Protein source and quality in therapeutic foods affect the immune response and outcome in severe acute malnutrition. Food and Nutrition Bulletin. 34(2):256-258.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Protein is a vital component of therapeutic foods designed to treat severe acute malnutrition (SAM) in children; however there are still unknowns about the quality and quantity of the proteins to use in these foods. This review examines two recent studies investigating several different qualities and quantities of protein in ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF). Two studies examining RUTF's for treating SAM in Malawi were compared. One study compared three RUTF's: one with 1.2 g egg white-tryptophan protein compared to one with 1.8 to one with milk protein. The second study compared a food made with 25% milk powder to one with 10% milk and 15% soy. In both, the quality of the protein was found to have a greater impact on the recovery of children rather than the quantity consumed. Patients diagnosed with SAM might benefit from RUTF's created with an amino acid profile with more aromatic amino acids (AA) like tryptophan, these compounds are known to be more bioavailable then non-aromatic AA's. The findings also concluded that milk is superior to soy protein for reasons still unknown. The findings from both of these studies indicate the protein quality is significant to recovery of SAM. Specifically, developing RUTF with aromatic AA's could help to benefit children diagnosed with MAM and practitioners should account for the types of proteins being used when developing RUTF. More research should be conducted into why children treated with animal proteins do better than those treated with equal quantities of soy.