Carbohydrates in breast milk

Carbohydrates in breast milk are quantitatively the largest component of dry matter. The average value of carbohydrates in mostly milk sugar lactose, which contains mature breast milk, ranges from 6.7 to 7.8 g per 100 g.

Carbohydrates are divided primarily into digestible and indigestible.

Digestible carbohydrates are the most important as a source of energy, and only after that come their roles as building blocks or modulators of metabolic processes. The reason for this is the quick and easy digestion of the most abundant carbohydrates and their ability to be transmitted through the bloodstream through parts of the body. In breast milk, carbohydrates make up a smaller part of the energy value (about 40%) compared to fat, which is a difference compared to later periods of life when carbohydrates make up the largest share of the energy content of food.

Indigestible carbohydrates are not actually completely indigestible, although the human body as well the organism of most animals, does not have its own breakdown mechanisms (e.g. plant cellulose). Some of them are broken down in the digestive system by the action of bacteria or intestinal microflora into digestible ingredients. Indigestible carbohydrates play the most important role as food for the intestinal microflora and through it play a significant role in the immune system, its development and modulation as well as many other metabolic processes in the body. Digestible carbohydrates are also found in breast milk. They are labeled as HMO (human milk Oligosaccharides) or translated as breast milk oligosaccharides. They attracted attention only twenty years ago and have been one of the focuses of research ever since. Carbohydrates in addition to digestibility according to chemical composition are divided into the following groups:

  • monosaccharides
  • disaccharides
  • oligosaccharides
  • polysaccharides

Monosaccharides and disaccharides are commonly referred to as sugars.

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