Illustration for article titled The next time youre stranded on an island with only one food source, make sure its breast milk

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.

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.

Top image via Shutterstock

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