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Breastmilk sugars for your intestinal flora

We all know that breastmilk is healthy for babies. It is the best basis you can give them. As nature intends: in terms of nutrients, immune system and intestinal flora. I had no idea, however, that specific breastmilk sugars can benefit my adult intestinal flora as well.

I was therefore a bit skeptical when Ergomax asked me whether I wanted to test their latest product; 2'-Fucosyllactose . My first reaction: "Fuco-what??". I had no idea what it was. So I decided to dive in and test it myself. My conclusion? It really works, and it can be really worth taking it! Why? I'll explain below.

Sugars for your intestinal flora

I have tackled the difference between prebiotics and probiotics elsewhere. 2'-fucosyllactose is part of the group of prebiotics. It is a sugar without sweet taste, but providing a source of nutrients for intestinal bacteria. Attention: this is no ordinary sugar and this does not feed the bacteria, fungi and yeasts that you do not want in your gut. It only feeds “good” intestinal bacteria.

This type of sugars for your intestinal flora is found in artichokes, shiitakes and seaweed. But 2'-fucosyllactose you only find in ... breastmilk.

What does 2'-fucosyllactose do?

This sugar is primarily a food for intestinal bifido-bacteria. These bacteria are found in yoghurt, for example. They convert sugars into acids and help to render the environment of the intestine more acidic. As a result, bacteria such as E. coli and other pathogens get less of a chance to do harm, as they cannot survive in an acidic environment.

Acidity

The acidity level of the intestine, at various places, has a substantive influence on the overall functioning of the digestive system. Every intestinal segment has its own optimal acidity level. Acidity ensures that the right bacteria survive in the right place and that your food is optimally broken down, which in turn benefits absorption into the body.

Which foods you eat has a ton of influence on digestion as well. If you do not eat healthy foods, the delicate balance between acidity level and intestinal bacteria can become disrupted. When the environment for the bacteria becomes too alkaline, unwanted bacteria get the upper hand—and this has consequences. Think bowel complaints, but becoming ill often can also be associated with it.

Bifidobacteria

Above you have read why it is important to maintain the right acidity level in the intestine, at the right places. Nutrition and bacteria contribute to maintaining the right balance. This can be achieved via two ways, then: eating healthier and targeted feeding of healthy bacteria. The latter strategy is vital because it is not always sufficient to merely work with nutrition when you want to improve your intestinal flora.

With 2'-fucosyllactose you mainly feed bifidobacteria. A low level of bifidobacteria is, among other effects, associated with diabetes and irritable bowel syndrome. An imbalance in the intestinal flora is in fact seen in various different clinical conditions, such as Parkinson's disease, but also anxiety disorders, depression and back pain.

In short: bifidobacteria are important. So—should you drink a daily glass of breastmilk? For obvious reasons that’s not really feasible. You probably will not digest it very well anyway at your age. That’s why it may be a useful option to take only breastmilk sugars—apart from your (homemade) coconut yoghurt, kombucha, fermented vegetables and probiotics supplement.

My experience

Before I decided to write about this, I tested the 2'-fucosyllactose supplement for about 1 month. I hold my intestinal flora in high esteem and I do a lot to keep it in good condition. Not only by eating healthy, but also by taking a probiotic and drinking a glass of home-made kombucha regularly. Yet I never stopped suspecting I could always profit more from the field of prebiotics.

You cannot restore your gut flora at one point, and expect it to remain in optimal condition ever after. This is something you always get to work on, even if only by generally taking good care of yourself and limiting stress. Your six pack, too, will abandon you when you suddenly stop exercising and start eating unhealthily.

As almost always: when you introduce a new kind, or a larger amount, of prebiotics to your diet, it does produce a reaction in the intestines. For example, you may notice gas formation, a bloated stomach, changing bowel movements, that sort of thing. Initial complaints should gradually diminish.

Does the supplement really work for me? I’m positive. Initially things rumbled a bit, but after a week I started to notice real improvement. I will definitely be using it for the time being.

Note: if you have a lactose intolerance, be careful with this supplement as it contains a form of lactose.