Should adults drink breast milk? Dr Zac Turner on protein, sugar content, dangers

Welcome to Ask Doctor Zac, a weekly column from This week, Dr Zac Turner talks about whether breast milk is good for adults.

Question: Hi Dr Zac, last week you spoke about the fitness influencer who abused steroids, but I want to ask you about a fitness influencer I follow who drinks his wife’s breast milk!

He claims all these health benefits from drinking it. (I think I might throw up.) According to this person, breast milk is the ultimate source of nutrients, and provides the best gains.

Is this true? Should humans be swapping from cow’s milk to human breast milk?

Sandie, 27, Sydney.

Answer: Great question Sandie. I think nearly everyone has once thought: “What does breast milk taste like?” It’s perfectly human to be curious.

I seriously believe that Instagram should vet all influencers who spout health advice to their followers.

If you don’t see proof of a medical degree, then please show some proper caution.

So let me answer it simply: Breast milk is designed for babies. It contains complex sugars which build the foundations of the baby’s immune systems, growth hormones to support growth, and beneficial bacteria to support gut health.

Nutritionally, human breast milk has less protein than cow’s milk. Human milk contains 0.9g per litre as the human infant is the mammal with the slowest growth rate. You won’t get any noticeable muscle gains from drinking it, plus its high sugar content doesn’t make this dish nutritious.

Benefits of breastmilk

This may contradict what I’ve said above, but as with everything, there is a time and place to experiment.

Some immunologists have done studies on whether breast milk can be used as a treatment in very specific circumstances.

This includes treating caesarean-born infants or even some post chemotherapy patients in need of bacteria that has been wiped out. Under the right conditions, this food source that for most of us wouldn’t be healthy can be designed to help people, children and adults with a number of issues. These benefits are extremely limited, and do not include muscle building or vitality.

One study in particular has found breast milk can help ease eczema and dermatitis if applied topically. It also claimed the sugar molecules, also known as oligosaccharides (HMOs), found in breast milk can help prevent B streptococcus infections in humans.

I must stress once again that while some treatments may provide relief from some conditions they are often not the best ones and can result in you sacrificing future health for selfish, immediate results.

This research should be taken with a grain of salt until other research is published to support it. Drinking human breast milk is risky, and an extremely easy way to pass on infectious diseases such as cytomegalovirus, hepatitis B and C, human immunodeficiency virus, or syphilis.

I do not recommend you ever buy human breast milk off someone, or the internet. It sounds ridiculous, I know, but this is becoming an alarming trend. If your curiosity is getting the better of you, you can taste a small amount from your pregnant partner. That is if they have recently tested negative for infectious diseases.

Got a question: [email protected]

Dr Zac Turner has a bachelor of medicine and bachelor of surgery from the University of Sydney. He is both a medical practitioner and a co-owner of telehealth service, Concierge Doctors. He was also a registered nurse and is also a qualified and experienced biomedical scientist along with being a PhD candidate in biomedical engineering

Originally published as ‘Should I drink breast milk to bulk up and get fitter?’

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