Ask the majority of adults in the Western world if they’d be willing to try breastmilk, and the answer is generally a resounding no.
That’s gross, we all believe. Breastmilk isn’t designed for adult humans – we’re better off drinking nice, wholesome cow’s milk for some reason.
In spite of the inherent ick-factor present in most people’s minds surrounding the horrifying idea that a human might drink milk made by another human, a startup company called Sugarlogix is trying to isolate a key sugar from mommy milk in order to help all of us live more healthily.
Within breastmilk are sugars known as human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs), which aren’t consumed by our bodies, but rather, feed healthy bacteria within our stomachs. These bacteria, which you may have heard of under their common name of prebiotics, have a wealth of health benefits that help small babies grow stronger as they multiply.
Essentially, HMOs are a sugary version of Yakult probiotic yoghurt, feeding the friendly bacteria in our tummies, and reducing our risk of cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and other illnesses.
Sugarlogix is making headway into isolating and manufacturing stores of one sugar found in breastmilk, in order to sell it as a supplement, as well as adding it to health food.
All the company then needs to do is convince people to consume breastmilk sugar, which might be a bit of a stretch considering how opposed most grown ups are to idea of drinking human milk.
Who knows? Perhaps the health benefits of these HMOs will win over skeptics, and the future will be a world where we’re all happy to drink milk produced by human breasts, and take supplements containing some of their useful sugars. If Sugarlogix can convince people of the health benefits, we might end up all just sticking to milk for our own species.
It’s worth assuming that the cows would be very grateful if we did!