Compared to infant milk formulas, fat droplets in human milk are bigger and surrounded by a phospholipid membrane.
Danone, which funded the research, has developed an infant milk formula (IMF) mimicking the structure of human milk lipid to see how the structure of fat droplets might impact digestion and post meal metabolism.
The study marks the latest attempt to make IMF as similar to human breast milk as possible.
Manufacturers often add new ingredients to infant formulas in an attempt to mimic the composition or performance of human milk, which is widely viewed as the best nutrition choice for infants.
The study was a randomised, double-blind study involving 29 fasted health males aged between 18 and 25 with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of between 18 and 25 kg/m squared)
It compared the responses five hours after eating of those who consumed the experimental IMF with a current IMF treatment.
The results of the proof-of-concept study suggest that fats and carbohydrates from the experimental IMF with larger and phospholipid-coated fat droplets are more rapidly absorbed than those who consumed the current IMF treatment.
This could be due to the gastric emptying rate, the authors said.
But the authors cautioned that the “exact underlying mechanism” remains to be determined.
Further research needed
Furthermore, the authors said it was unknown to what extent the study findings can be extrapolated to infants and if these postprandial changes translate into longer-term health effects.
Speaking to NutraIngredients, doctor Sabine Baumgartner, one of the paper’s authors, said: “This is very important study for because it is the proof of concept to see what happened with postprandial responses. I would assume the next step is to look at longer term situations.”
"Clearly we do see some differences in the postprandial phase. That makes it interesting to look in more detail what happens in the longer term and ultimately what it would mean if infants would consume this milk.”
Source: European Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Authors: S Baumgartner, B J M van de Heijning, D Acton and R P Mensink