What would happen if you tried to survive on just one type of food? The short answer: you would die. Of course, how you died (organ failure, muscle-wasting, rapidly spreading pustular wounds... some combination thereof) would depend entirely on which type of food you decided to ride out your last weeks/months/years of life consuming.

Unless that one food happens to be human breast milk. Lifes Little Mysteries' Natalie Wolchover gives us the details:

...There is one food that has it all: the one that keeps babies alive. "The only food that provides all the nutrients that humans need is human milk," [explains Jo Ann Hattner, a nutrition consultant at Stanford University School of Medicine and former national spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association]. "Mother's milk is a complete food. We may add some solid foods to an infant's diet in the first year of life to provide more iron and other nutrients, but there is a little bit of everything in human milk."

Technically, adults could survive on human milk, too, she said; the sticking point would be finding a woman who is willing to provide it (and enough of it). Lacking that option, the second-best choice would be mammalian milk, especially if it is fermented. "Yogurt, which is fermented milk, has a lot of bacteria that is good for the digestive tract," Hattner said.

So there you have it. The next time someone presents you with a forever-stranded-on-an-island scenario, and you're only allowed one food item for the rest of your life, you know the optimal food (beverage?) choice: an bottomless vat of breast milk.

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Read more about this bizarrely awesome thought experiment (including gut-churning details on the effects of a single-food diet) over on Life's Little Mysteries.

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