Getting the right things to grow
Digestible only by beneficial bacteria
Human milk oligosaccharides enhance health in many ways. Firstly, only very beneficial bacteria in our intestines can digest them. Our intestines contain approximately 100,000 billion bacteria (corresponding to ~750 gram of bacteria). These bacteria are necessary for human health as they digest food, produce vitamins, control bowel movements, regulate our immune system and keep pathogens under control. An imbalance of these bacteria has been linked to many gastrointestinal disorders and various diseases1.
Promote healthy microbiota
By feeding her baby human milk oligosaccharides, a mother feeds the beneficial bacteria and makes sure that they, rather than harmful bacteria, colonize the baby’s intestines. The oligosaccharides of human milk are considered to be one of the principal growth factors, for example, for bifidobacteria in the infant gut and are responsible for the composition of the gut microbiota found in breast-fed infants2.
A healthy, robust immune system
Babies have very delicate, under-developed intestines and immune systems. Problems arising during the development of the intestines and immune system can have lasting consequences. The human milk oligosaccharides in mother’s milk play key roles in the development of a good intestinal barrier and a healthy, robust immune system. They may also play a role in the development of the baby’s brain. Human milk oligosaccharides are nature’s way of giving us a healthy start in life3.
Research indicates same benefits for adults
The evidence available indicates that human milk oligosaccharides do the same for adults as they do for babies: increasing beneficial bacteria4, helping to build strong intestinal barriers5, and regulating the immune system to both protect and reduce damaging inflammation6.
1. Selber-Hnatiw, S. et al, 2017, Front Microbiol Jul 17:8:1265 'The human gut microbiota: Towards an ecology of disease'
2. Lewis, ZT el al, 2017, NNI Workshop Ser., 88:149 'Differential establishment of bifidobacterial in the breastfed infant gut'
3. Hennet, T et al, 2016, Trends Biochem Sci Jun:41(6):502 'Breast Fed at Tiffany’s'
4. Elison, E. et al, 'Oral supplementation of healthy adults with 2'-O-fucosyllactose and lacto-N-neotetraose is well tolerated and shifts the intestinal microbiota'; Br J Nutr. 2016 Oct; 116(8):1356-1368.
5. Holscher, 2014; J. Nutr 144:586
6. Kulinich, A, et al (2016), Carbohydr Res. Sep 2;432:62