A lady at my breastfeeding group asked me a really intriguing question today:
" I've heard that the reason cake is so appealing is because it has similar levels of fats and sugars to breast milk, is that true? "
" No idea! ", said I, laughing, " I'll look into it for you! "
And this is what I found...
Yeah, totally different! What a silly question!
Except... wait... my brain is catching up... that should have been a really obvious result with milk being, you know, liquid and chocolate cake erm... a solid. Not really surprising that their composition is so different.
But breastmilk is around 87% water, so what happens if we ignore that part and just look at the non-water constituents?
Ooooo! Not so different now! I was surprised at how similar it was. But maybe that’s just pretty standard with food?
Getting into the swing of it, I looked at a couple of other options...
Human milk certainly seems to have a balance of constituents more similar to cake than spaghetti bolognese! Very amusing.
But does that mean that human milk is as bad for us as cake?
Firstly, remember your audience! Rapidly growing and developing infants have much different nutritional needs to mature adults. Secondly, there are many different types of building blocks which are metabolised in very different ways.
Fat is the most variable component of human milk, being different from woman to woman, in different stages of lactation, and different points in any feed. The types of fats in human milk (predominately (98%) triglycerides) are essential for infant brain development which is extremely rapid. The role of fat in an adult’s diet is less clear but it is generally agreed that limiting saturated fat is a good idea!
The carbohydrates in human milk are mostly in the form of lactose. Lactose supplies a growing brain with lots of energy as well as aiding calcium absorption and being a probiotic. Our cake is very high in sucrose which is made up of glucose and fructose. The body prefers glucose as an energy source and the fructose has a different metabolic pathway and behaves more like a fat. Not good!
This is in no way a scientific analysis, more tongue in cheek, and the numbers used are very rough guides. Unfortunately nothing serious can be concluded from this investigation but it has amused me, and hopefully you.