A new Berkeley-based tech start-up is looking to replicate the same sugars found within human breast milk—for mass consumption.

By Hillary Eaton
Updated August 22, 2017
a teaspoon of sugar
Credit: Luis Ascui

From recent news that the sugar industry paid researchers to vilify fat over sugar in the ‘60s to the artificially-sweetened vortex of sugar-free products, there is no shortage of reasons why more and more people are looking to cut out sugar and its imitators from their diets.

But the makers of a new sugar substitute plan to interrupt not-quite-sugar industry. The source of the latest substitute that the sugar-shunning masses will scoop into their morning coffee is by far the strangest we’ve come across yet: human breast milk. Yes, let us repeat: human breast milk. This is real.

According to Fast Company, the new Berkeley-based tech start-up Sugarlogix is looking to produce the sugars that are found within human breast milk, 2′-Fucosyllactose, outside of the human body for the purpose of adding to certain foods and taking as a supplement. The sugar, which helps infants develop the good kind of gut-bacteria, Bifidobacterium, would not only replace sugar, but also promote healthier gut-health, too. So it’s really a win-win sugar solution, if you can get past the whole synthetic breast milk part of it.

While this new sugar is apparently not particularly sweet, its magic, say its makers, lies in its ability to help your gut function smoothly. “This [sugar] leads to a healthier digestive system, healthier gut, which will then help in boosting your immune system as well,” Chaeyoung Shin, one of the cofounders of Sugarlogix, told Fast Company. “If we consume them, the population of the good gut bacteria increases, out-populating the bad bacteria that could also reside in your body.”

If you don’t know how you feel about consuming foods that have come from a human breast, no matter how good for you, you can relax. While this new sugar is the same stuff found in breast milk, they aren’t using the human stuff directly, just replicating it.