The next big food craze could be (but hopefully not) breast milk for adults.
Breast milk has something in it called human milk oligo-saccha-rides - HMO for short; a synthetic version of it could help us with our brains, immune system, food allergies, diarrhea, and irritable bowel system.
Of maybe this is just a creepy way to sell a bizarre product.
HMOs may explain why breast-fed babies tend to fare better than formula-fed children, said Dr Rachael Buck, who leads HMO research at Similac formula-maker Abbott Laboratories.
According to early research, HMOs strengthen the developing immune system in babies, helping fight infection and inflammation while aiding brain development.
New studies show those benefits may extend to people of all ages, fitting neatly into consumers' growing fascination with probiotics - the "good" bacteria that can help keep a human body healthy.
Synthetic HMOs come from the formula industry's quest to manufacture a breast-milk substitute as close to the real thing as possible.
HMOs could lead to treatments for adult ailments such as irritable bowel syndrome, allergies and even the ageing brain, said Dr Buck.
Commercial production is typically accomplished through a fermentation process using giant vats filled with microbes genetically engineered to produce specific HMO varieties, such as 2'FL.
DuPont plans to spend US$40 million building its HMO production capacity this year.
After two decades of research, Abbott was first to bring HMOs to the US baby nutrition market in 2016. It has now expanded to 15 countries.
Nestle last year rolled out HMO formula in Gerber and other brands across 40 countries. The health claims propelled about US$600 million in sales of HMO formula last year each for Abbott and Nestle.
DuPont and BASF are focusing on making the most common version of HMO which consists of the 2'FL sugar. BASF began scaling up production of 2'FL earlier this year.
Yeah, I think I'm gonna pass on the adult breast milk. Thanks, but no thanks. I'll stick to beer
Photo by Getty Images