We all know breast milk is essentially liquid gold for babies. It helps them develop antibodies, helps them grow and bond with their mothers. Babies are just wild about that breast milk. Now maybe it's time we find out whether or not adults would be wild about it, too. Well, we might not have to wait much longer, because this company is creating breast milk pills for adults, which should be interesting, I guess.
To be more specific, Sugarlogix, a Berkeley biotech company, is looking into finding a way to isolate the natural sugars found in breast milk to sell. The company believes the sugars in breast milk will become the next big health craze for adults and infants alike because these sugars have been proven to have medicinal properties.
Kulika Chomvong, CEO of Sugarlogix, explained to Gizmodo that the start-up company was trying to find the best naturally-occuring sugars, and that those came from a mother's breast milk. "We were interested in prebiotics and we realized that the best type of prebiotics exist in nature, and that’s in human breast milk," she told the site.
Prebiotics are similar to probiotics in that they cannot be digested by the body. Prebiotics are different, however, in that they cultivate and feed the bacteria in the body.
There are more than 200 sugars to be found in breast milk, while there are only 50 sugars found in the milk of other mammals. Sugar is the third largest ingredient in breast milk after lactose and fats, as Science Daily explains. But the role of these sugars remains "a scientific puzzle," according to Science Daily. Researcher Thierry Hennet, from the Institute of Physiology at the University of Zurich explained to Science Daily the complex role sugar in breast milk plays in a baby's development:
The first impact breast milk has is favoring the colonization of the gut by specific bacterial groups that can digest these sugar molecules. Infants don't have the machinery to digest these sugars so they are literally for the bacteria — it's like a seeding ground, and breast milk is the fertilizer.
If Sugarlogix manages to isolate those sugars, what does the company plan to do with them? Chomvong told Gizmodo that the plan is to take powder-form sugars and turn them into pills, essentially giving adults the opportunity to add prebiotics from breast milk to their daily dose of multivitamins.
"This is the very first time adults can really harness the power of breast milk," Chomvong told the outlet. "We wanted to find the very first food for the gut that we ever received as babies, and that’s breastmilk."
According to Chomvong, the company has already looked into adding this so-called "superfood" to a baby's formula, and has begun discussions with one company that has shown interest. Sugarlogix would also like to expand to offer these pills to food producers; but at this point, perhaps the real question is whether or not this superfood would actually benefit adults?
According to Michael Miller, a microbiologist who studies human breast milk at the University of Illinois, the science of breast milk is still too new to offer any conclusive answer. He told Gizmodo:
Different mom’s milks will have different compositions. It’s too complex to fully replicate. Some of the more simple sugars that are most common in mom’s milks we can now make somewhat economically. But it’s not yet clear whether these more simple sugars will give you some of the benefit of breast milk sugars, or whether the real benefit is having the full complexity that exists in a mom’s milk.
The reality is, breast milk has helped millions of babies to grow up strong and smart and healthy throughout the years. But whether or not breast milk sugar will offer any health benefits to adults remains to be seen.
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