Breast milk seems like a pretty simple substance. It comes out when we have babies, helps them grow, and is extremely annoying to transport on planes. But there's a lot more to the substance than just being an infant buffet. Science has revealed that, among other facts you never knew about breast milk, it fights bacteria, helps immune response, adjusts the infant body to allergies, and adapts itself to the specific needs of the baby it's being fed to. If you're looking for a natural wonder-substance, forget goji berries or baobab powder; breast milk is where it's at.
Scientific ideas about breast milk have evolved a lot since the ancient Greeks, who believed that breast milk was just another kind of menstrual blood, "purified" through the process of becoming pregnant. Even in recent years, misconceptions about nurturing babies have been challenged. Formula-fed babies have been unfairly maligned as disadvantaged compared to breastfed ones (for some kind of classist reasons); a study released in 2017, for instance, found that there's no cognitive or behavioral difference between them when they grow into children. But milk itself might provide new paths for research to help humans in other ways. Milk banks are being set up worldwide to help malnourished, premature, or ill babies who could benefit from donated milk, and scientists are using breast milk-related discoveries to reshape antibiotics, allergies, and even adult immune health. That's right — breast milk may not be just for babies anymore.