April 12, 2019
It’s no secret that breast milk is an impressive natural, life-sustaining food for babies, even toddlers.
Now, chemical companies are investing millions in one of its ingredients – an indigestible sugar – as the next big thing in adult supplements.
Companies like DowDuPont Inc. and BASF SE are seeking to boost production of a synthetic version of human milk oligosaccharide, a main ingredient in breast milk, which "escapes digestion, allowing it to reach the colon where it feeds beneficial bacteria," according to a Bloomberg report.
Among other things, HMO helps babies build strong immune systems and boosts their brain development. But more and more studies suggest the benefits of HMO might apply to adults, too. A 2016 study found that supplementing an adult diet with HMO can be a valuable strategy to shape the human gut microbiota and specifically promote the growth of “good” bacteria.
Rachael Buck, who leads HMO research at Similac formula-maker Abbott Laboratories, told Bloomberg that the prebiotic could be used in effective treatments for adult health issues such as irritable bowel syndrome, allergies and even the aging brain.