Milk and Lactation
Milk is the complete food for infants, thanks to millions of years of natural selection on mammalian lactation. Through the process bioreactor that is lactation, milk provides complete nourishment and protection for infants’ health. This principle of a complete food delivered as a complex mixture of molecules is used throughout the Milk and Lactation projects at the FFHI.
Evolution has selected for energy intensive, high diversity class of molecules - oligosaccharides and glycans.These are largely indigestible to the human infant and this raised the question, what is their functional purpose? Researchers have discovered that these oligosaccharides instead act as a food source for the intestinal microbiota that colonizes the gastrointestinal tract. Investigations in human milk have revealed the specific composition and structures of these compounds and established their function as a selective food source for specific beneficial bacterial species, including Bifidobacteria. These oligosaccharides and glycans work to feed the intestinal microbiome of the infant and now we are able to identify that there is such a thing as a Milk-Oriented Microbiome (MOM) that results from exclusive breastfeeding. We believe this is what is an important component of the multiple studies that say breastfeeding is important.
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