Milk vs. formula… under the microscope

September 8, 2011. Posted in: Blog Posts,Milk

We just got a digital camera attachment for our microscope, so what do you think I photographed first?

All three photos were taken with the exact same magnification, lighting, and all other microscope/camera settings. The color shows more detail than black & white, so I left it alone (even though all the colors may seem unusual coming from three white drops of milk).

 

 

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Clare Kirkpatrick September 9, 2011 at 3:32 am

Wow! That’s so cool to see such a difference! Do you know what all the different bits are?

Jen Fuller September 9, 2011 at 1:27 pm

That’s awesome!  Wow…isn’t it insane how much better human milk is?  It really blows my mind, and no matter how difficult breastfeeding has been for me, it’s worth sticking it out for!

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Peterclark September 9, 2011 at 9:12 pm

Explain to the rest of us the results you have photographed.

Peterclark September 9, 2011 at 5:12 pm

Explain to the rest of us the results you have photographed.

Jane September 9, 2011 at 10:35 pm

I’d like to see raw goats and cows milk too.

Jane September 9, 2011 at 6:35 pm

I’d like to see raw goats and cows milk too.

SweetStartLPN September 10, 2011 at 1:16 pm

Cool photos, but I think they mostly illustrate the structural impact of milk processing more than the make-up of the different milks.  Of course the raw breastmilk will look more intact than the pasteurized homogenized cow milk. And of course the powdered and reconstituted formula will look even less “whole” than that. Powerful in and of itself.  I agree with others that another impressive comparison of the differences would be to look at stained slides under higher magnification. 

SweetStartLPN September 10, 2011 at 9:16 am

Cool photos, but I think they mostly illustrate the structural impact of milk processing more than the make-up of the different milks.  Of course the raw breastmilk will look more intact than the pasteurized homogenized cow milk. And of course the powdered and reconstituted formula will look even less “whole” than that. Powerful in and of itself.  I agree with others that another impressive comparison of the differences would be to look at stained slides under higher magnification. 

Erika Gebhardt September 10, 2011 at 2:02 pm

I’d really like to see raw cow’s milk and goat’s milk as well!  

Erika Gebhardt September 10, 2011 at 10:02 am

I’d really like to see raw cow’s milk and goat’s milk as well!  

analogkib September 11, 2011 at 1:03 am

I’d like to see what milk looks like from different women too… I’m curious how different it is from person to person :)

analogkib September 10, 2011 at 9:03 pm

I’d like to see what milk looks like from different women too… I’m curious how different it is from person to person :)

MARKULFAPOWER September 11, 2011 at 6:01 pm

come on WHY do you want explanations of this pictures? seems like you’re jelaous.. haha.. no more words than formula milk NEVER will be the same as human milk like some doctors and TV commercial says…. 

MARKULFAPOWER September 11, 2011 at 2:01 pm

come on WHY do you want explanations of this pictures? seems like you’re jelaous.. haha.. no more words than formula milk NEVER will be the same as human milk like some doctors and TV commercial says…. 

crystalmommy September 12, 2011 at 2:31 am

That is awesome!!

crystalmommy September 11, 2011 at 10:31 pm

That is awesome!!

Aimster770 September 22, 2011 at 8:40 pm

WOW! Cool!  Human milk looks better than formula for sure!
 

Aimster770 September 22, 2011 at 4:40 pm

WOW! Cool!  Human milk looks better than formula for sure!
 

Beautifulchaos700 October 16, 2011 at 2:49 am

I think the reason why the cows milk isn’t raw is because we don’t feed our kids or our selves raw cow milk. Just the difference between nursing and formula/ cows milk. I’m going on 6 weeks pumping and nursing… I just hope I can keep it up. And I wish it were less painful.

Beautifulchaos700 October 15, 2011 at 10:49 pm

I think the reason why the cows milk isn’t raw is because we don’t feed our kids or our selves raw cow milk. Just the difference between nursing and formula/ cows milk. I’m going on 6 weeks pumping and nursing… I just hope I can keep it up. And I wish it were less painful.

rawmilkdrinker January 24, 2012 at 7:20 pm

Some of us feed ourselves and our children raw cows milk. 

Kim Spicer November 6, 2011 at 11:06 pm

I’m so glad I EBF my 11 wk old daughter. I plan to go at least one year. Seeing this I may go further.

Kim Spicer November 6, 2011 at 11:06 pm

I’m so glad I EBF my 11 wk old daughter. I plan to go at least one year. Seeing this I may go further.

Melcey November 17, 2011 at 10:44 am

Amazing! Thank you!

Melcey November 17, 2011 at 10:44 am

Amazing! Thank you!

Anonymous December 12, 2011 at 9:57 pm

I’ve been interested why scientists haven’t been able to duplicate breast milk.  Is it really that difficult?  

Jakewwa December 12, 2011 at 9:57 pm

I’ve been interested why scientists haven’t been able to duplicate breast milk.  Is it really that difficult?  

Tiggs0209 February 6, 2012 at 2:07 pm

Some of us have no choice but to feed formula…..not all of us were able to have children naturally but I wouldn’t swap our gorgeous adopted son for all the tea in China,…..or all the milk in, errr, wherever there is lots of milk ;-)

galacia February 6, 2012 at 9:11 pm

This reminds me of something I read, that homogenization splits the fat molecules into smaller pieces that then more easily pass through the intestinal wall and cause inflammatory conditions. It would be interesting to look at raw cow’s milk for a comparison. 

Yulia February 22, 2012 at 7:10 pm

Love it! Thank you for posting

Marie Antoinette March 19, 2012 at 10:22 pm

Wow, I’m SO glad I breastfed for 7 and a half months.  I would have done more but he just wasn’t into it towards the end.

Sandra McRitchie December 27, 2012 at 9:58 pm

Marie, can you elaborate? Did he have a big appetite for solids?
Cheers,
Sandra

Nathanielsmama March 24, 2012 at 6:22 am

What does this mean? I can visually see the difference in the size of the bubbles.. But I don’t know what the bubbles are

Reallyninja April 10, 2012 at 9:05 am

So what does this tell us? More (or just bigger) fat bubbles?

Jenna April 17, 2012 at 2:03 pm

I would be interested in seeing cows milk not homogenized or pasturized!

Paulporsche July 5, 2012 at 2:16 am

What is the point? please clarify.  Ithink many ones want to know more about it.  This is useful information.

Bonnie Carroll July 10, 2012 at 3:30 pm

I’d love to know what those bubbles are as well. Also I’d love to see Raw Cow’s Milk from Grass Fed cows compared. Or infant formula made from Raw Milk, so that mom’s who medically can’t breastfeed and have no access to human milk can know there is a better option, second by far to Human Milk, but still far, far better than Standard Infant Formula

Guest July 22, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Its almost a year without an explanation, why? It damages your website!

Operalibra August 3, 2012 at 8:10 am

I think the point of this is to illustrate how different in composition formula and cow’s milk are from the food nature intended to be given to human newborns.

Bec August 7, 2012 at 5:57 pm

I too wonder what it means…but im guessing it illistrates 2 things-first-we cannot duplicate breast milk. and the ohter…maybe it just shows how much fatter (and therefor more nutritious) human breast milk actually is!  It also probably takes less to fill a child preventing obesity and saving money!

Nicole August 16, 2012 at 3:26 am

I’m not a Microbiologist, so I don’t know what the big bubbles are, but if you look at what’s in Breast milk compared to Formula milk, then there is a huge diffrence in Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids etc.  Go to http://bcbabyfriendly.ca/whatsinbreastmilkposter.pdf for a full list of ingredients and see the diffrence! 

Cudeb22 September 23, 2012 at 6:52 pm

That’s cool! You should try looking at breast milk after 5 days in the fridge. I wonder if it would look closer to the cows milk. The cows milk has probably broken down because it is not fresh. Just curious. Obviously fresh milk is better!! What kind of cows milk? whole or low fat?

Rwasilewski October 7, 2012 at 4:50 pm

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out, just trust your eyes and intuition…which looks healthier…

Max McKenzie October 22, 2012 at 11:29 pm

If the samples were reversed you would have said the same thing, because your inherent bias leads you to see one or the other as normal. I happen to agree that breastfeeding is better, but I don’t agree that the above pictures prove anything at all without some kind of scientific assessment. For example if the science has shown that larger molecules in human milk make it easier for the human infant stomachs to digest, then the visual implication of the pictures would be clear. I’m just speculating about the size of particles being easier to digest btw, because there is no commentary to go with these pictures to tell us WHY the last picture represents milk that is better for babies (other than our trust that image is labelled correctly and our intuition that breast milk is better).

Duh October 23, 2012 at 2:35 am

This shows the cellular formation and how the actual cells of breast milk are. Whole and pure.

Katherine Warsager March 26, 2013 at 11:09 am

Any further explantion would be really great!

Ali March 31, 2013 at 12:58 am

What species of mammals encourages its young to ingest the milk of another mammal over its own kind? NONE. Human milk is designed to properly nourish humans, their superior intelligence over animals, bodies etc; for their human life. A cow, whether grass fed or not, is not of high intelligence. Cow’s milk is designed for bulk, since cows don’t have to be intelligent. It’s a no brainer. Cow’s milk doesn’t fight cancer cells in the stomach or prostate. Human milk does. Formula & Cow’s milk aren’t abundant in choline, needed for cognitive function. Magnesium and calcium have to be equally balanced for absorption. Cows milk has 11% magnesium and 35% calcium. Common Sense. You were trained to drink cows milk; untrain yourselves…

A discerning thought April 2, 2013 at 9:22 am

Also obviously cows as a species have no desire at all to protect its own children from anything. Animals, we all know so well, are completely useless.

Cherene Kisko May 3, 2013 at 2:40 pm

That’s not actually true. There are many documented cases of one species adopting and feeding babies of another species. It goes to show that even mammals will use alternative solutions to give babies the best chance.

Listening is an art May 10, 2013 at 9:30 am

(I think ‘A discerning thought’ was being a wee bit sarcastic.)

Ali March 31, 2013 at 1:10 am

This picture is obviously showing the lack of -; in formula, the altered of -; in pasteurized & homogenized cows milk, and the healthy abundant of -; in human breast milk. In knowing the benefits of human milk over formula and cows milk, what purpose is it serving to know exactly what these bubbles are? What ever they are, they are bigger, more radiant, and extremely abundant in human milk over formula and cows milk. To me; with a bit of perception, discernment, intelligence and common sense, I would conclude, whatever these bubbles are, they look a lot better in human milk than in the other two. Formula is lacking, and cows milk looks altered with rings around the bubbles resembling a virus. Not visible in the human milk magnification. Again, no brainer….

Julia May 7, 2013 at 11:33 am

I think what we are seeing here are the “bubbles” of fat. Milk is a colloid meaning that there are particles in it that are not fully “dissolved” leaving it cloudy. Since human breast milk is non-homogenized the fat globs are large. If give it time the fat globs will rise to the top of the milk. The cows milk is homogenized. The process breaks up the fat globs so that they don’t form a layer at the top. Formula is made from powdered milk which breaks up the fat globs even smaller than for homogenization. I’m pretty sure that is all we are looking at here.
That said I do believe that homogenization and drying of milk harms certain properties but it is not something that you would observe via microscopy.

Listening is an art May 10, 2013 at 9:28 am

Dear Julia,
You are trying to be reasonable in a discussion that has little to do with reason: breastfeeding activists will typically not be convinced of anything that at least does not directly ‘prove’ that they are right about breastmilk. I have tried, and failed, and given up. It doesn’t usually matter if you do not directly contradict either: you should agree or be damned. I am sorry to be harsh but I though maybe I could save you some time in the future. Don’t even try, there is hardly a point because there is no will to listen.

Brittany May 11, 2013 at 10:35 am

“Prove that they are right about breastmilk” ? PP, they *are* right though. Breast milk is infinitely healthier than formula. You can’t dispute that fact. It’s unfortunate when some women can’t breast feed for one reason or another, but let’s not pretend as if formula is just as good. You’ve tried and failed to do what? Prove that formula and breast milk are equally healthy for babies? Because if you do believe that then you should be damned. And with that having been said, there’s nothing wrong with supplementing with formula when need be.

Listening is INDEED an art May 11, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Please read my comment before making your own. I tried to have a reasonable conversation, and failed that, repeatedly. Too much convinced of their own right, most breastfeeding activist certainly are. Thank you for proving my point though.
Hope you have a good day, without having to damn too many people along your path. That can be so tiresome, wouldn’t you agree?