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The evolution of human milk and why it remains vital

The evolution of human milk and why it remains vital

At Trulacta, we create a supplement that’s 6 million years in the making. Our product is derived from 100% human milkwhich has evolved naturally in humans since our species diverged from our closest relatives: the chimpanzees and bonobos. 

But why do humans breastfeed? And why is human milk so significant to human health and evolution?

Since that split from our ancient ancestors, human milk has evolved specifically to optimize human health. Research shows it provides a myriad of vital benefits from helping to regulate sleep to preventing allergies and increasing gut health.

Human milk may also be directly linked to Homo sapiens’ evolution of a larger brain. A 2019 study by a team of scientists at the University of Bristol found that not only did the first humans breastfeed their young, but they did so for longer periods of time than most women do today – up to four years of age. The study also suggests that this prolonged period of breastfeeding played a significant role in the development of traits that are specific to the human lineage. Most notably: brain development.

The early origins of breast milk 

It’s a little more difficult to discern what nutrients, exactly, were in breast milk all those years ago since breast milk does not preserve well in the fossils of our ancient ancestors. However, we can get some clues about its nutrient density. 

According to Medela, there is a striking diversity of mother’s milk components found when comparing milk produced from various animals. Each mammal is uniquely suited to providing the right nutrients and nourishment that will best serve the health and wellness of its particular species. Human milk, not surprisingly, is the most complex. It contains thousands of bionutrients where cow’s milk or mouse’s milk, for example, only contain between 30-50. And the bionutrients in human milk each serve an important purpose that helps our complex anatomy achieve optimal wellness. 

Breast milk in the modern era

It wasn’t until recent centuries that breast milk went “out of style.” In the 1600s, more than 50% of women utilized wet nurses, rather than breastfeeding themselves.

With the creation of artificial milk alternatives, like formula, in the 1800s, breastfeeding saw an even greater decline.

In the early 1900s, it was seen as a sign of status if families could afford formula, and it was often thought of as a superior option thanks to marketing efforts from formula manufacturers.

By the early 1970s, only 22% of babies were breastfed with most babies starting solids at just 3-4 weeks of age.

Human milk in the 21st century

In 2003, research allowed us to really dissect the benefits and nutrients within breastmilk as never before. We now know it contains a myriad of complex sugars that are vital to building a baby’s immune system and gut health. This discovery led the World Health Organization to recommend breast milk until babies are at least six months old and up to two years of age to ensure optimal development. 

As we continue into the 21st century, more and more of the benefits of human milk are coming to light, making it clear human milk contains essential nutrients for adult human wellness as well. Research is ongoing into the benefits of human milk to support the treatment of conditions like obesity, Crohn’s disease, cardiovascular disease, and even some outbreaks of bacterial infections.

Trulacta is disrupting prebiotic and probiotic nutraceuticals with a revolutionary supplement that contains Human Milk Bionutrients (HMBs™). Our HMBs undergo a proprietary biomanufacturing process. Unlike pasteurization, this technology means we can retain all of the goodness human milk has to offer while eliminating many of its potential risks. It also means human milk – the original, and ultimate, formula for human health – can be ingested in supplement form. Learn more about Trulacta’s benefits to support overall wellness and gut health.

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