100 Questions About Human Milk Oligosaccharide Prebiotics (HMOs)

June 07, 2022 22 min read

100 Questions About Human Milk Oligosaccharide Prebiotics (HMOs) | Layer Origin Nutrition

100 Questions About Human Milk Oligosaccharide Prebiotics (HMOs) 

HMO Basics

1. What are human milk oligosaccharides (HMO)?

HMO stands for human milk oligosaccharides — a type of sugar abundant in human breast milk. HMOs are non-digestible carbohydrates that travel to the large intestine and can benefit gut, immune, and cognitive health. Although HMOs are only naturally present in breast milk, they can also be created through a scientific process involving enzymes and fermentation so that adults can enjoy the benefits, too.

2. What are oligosaccharides?

Oligosaccharides are carbohydrates called glycans made of between three and ten simple sugars. These chain-linked sugars are larger than monosaccharides (simple sugars) and smaller than polysaccharides, which contain ten or more linked sugars. Oligosaccharides cannot be digested or broken down in the gut, so they are considered prebiotics because they act as food for our healthy gut bacteria to consume. Oligosaccharides are the third most abundant component within human milk.

 3. Are HMOs prebiotics?

Yes, HMOs are prebiotics because they are non-digestible oligosaccharides that the bacteria in our colons rely on to survive and thrive.

Gut Health Basics

4. What is the gut microbiome?

The gut microbiome is a collection of trillions of microorganisms and their genetic material in our gastrointestinal tracts, which consists of the small intestine and large intestine, or colon. While most microorganisms in the gut microbiome are bacteria, they can also be fungi, archaea, yeast, and viruses.

5. What are prebiotics?

Prebiotics are considered fuel for probiotic bacteria (“good bugs”). Because prebiotics are not digested or absorbed in the gut, they are fermented by the various microflora in the colon instead. Prebiotics can be defined as “nondigestible food ingredients that beneficially affect the host by selectively stimulating the growth and activity of bacteria in the colon, thus improving host health.”

6. What are short-chain fatty acids?

Short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) are beneficial compounds produced when our gut bacteria feed on prebiotics like HMOs. The three most abundant SCFAs are acetate, propionate, and butyrate, with butyrate providing the most health benefits.

7. How do short-chain fatty acids benefit health?

SCFAs help lower pH in the gut, limiting the growth of harmful bacteria and promoting healthier gut bacteria. The SCFA butyrate is the preferred fuel source for cells that line the large intestine, which helps promote normal cell growth and strengthen the intestinal barrier. SCFAs can also enhance the absorption of calcium and other minerals in the gut.

8. What is leaky gut?

Leaky gut is a state of impaired intestinal permeability, which occurs when the epithelial cells that line the intestine become “leaky” or have gaps between them. When the intestinal lining becomes impaired, toxins, pathogens, and too-big proteins can travel out of the gut into the bloodstream and cause health issues.

9. What does CFU mean?

CFU stands for “colony forming unit” and is a common unit of measurement seen on probiotic supplements. CFU describes the number of cells that can multiply to form a colony, which are easier to measure than individual cells. A healthy bacterial cell will be able to divide repeatedly, forming this measurable colony of bacterial cells.

10. What is a synbiotic?

Synbiotics combine prebiotics with probiotics. Because prebiotics are a food and energy source for probiotics, taking a synbiotic can help to maximize the synergistic effects of prebiotics and probiotics.

11. What is SIBO?

SIBO stands for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, and it’s a detrimental condition that can cause gas, bloating, nausea, and abdominal pain. SIBO occurs when bacteria travel up from the large intestine (where they are expected) into the small intestine, where they do not usually live.

This leads to an abnormal amount of bacteria in the small intestine, causing digestive discomfort. Although the origins are not entirely understood, some causes of SIBO include pH changes in the small intestine, poor immune system functioning, abnormal intestinal muscular functions, and other gut-related diseases, like Crohn’s disease or celiac disease.

12. Is the gut microbiome really that important to our health?

Yes! The gut microbiome is integral to almost every aspect of human health, including immunity, cognition, metabolism, body weight, cardiovascular function, mood, and digestive health etc.

13. Why is our gut microbiome the foundation for our overall health?

The bacteria that live in our guts are involved in much more than just digestion. The gut microbiome impacts overall health through the fermentation and synthesis of compounds (for example, vitamins, short-chain fatty acids) that act on other areas of the body. Gut microbes can also communicate with other organs, such as through the gut-brain axis.

14. What species are important in our gut microbiome?

There are trillions of bacteria in the gut microbiome, and each person has a vastly different microbial makeup. However, most people have gut microbiomes predominantly composed of bacteria from three major phyla: Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes,and Actinobacteria. A common gut bacteria in the Actinobacteriaphyla is the genus Bifidobacterium, which is known to benefit human gut health. Akkermansiaand Lactobacillusare also known to be beneficial gut bacteria.

15. What is Akkermansia muciniphila?

Akkermansia muciniphila is a type of bacteria that is beneficial for supporting metabolism and healthy body weight. PureHMO supports the growth and proliferation of Akkermansia muciniphila.

16.Can I just take an Akkermansia muciniphila supplement directly?

While an Akkermansia muciniphila supplement could be helpful, you won’t get all of the additional benefits that come with an HMO prebiotic supplement, like strengthening the gut lining, boosting short-chain fatty acid production, and supporting cognitive health. Plus, HMO are proven to help probiotic bacteria to stay in the gut.

17. What are postbiotics?

Postbiotics are various compounds that are created when healthy gut bacteria digest and break down prebiotics and other fibers. Essentially, they are byproducts of gut bacterial fermentation that can benefit health. For example, short-chain fatty acids like butyrate are considered postbiotics.

18. Can’t you just take butyrate supplements?

While butyrate supplements could potentially be beneficial for gut health, this solo supplement would not provide all of the additional benefits of HMO prebiotics, like stimulating the immune system, blocking pathogen adhesion, reducing inflammation, and supporting cognitive function.

HMO and the Gut Microbiome

19. How do HMOs benefit gut health?

Prebiotics like HMOs benefit gut health by providing fuel for the cells lining our intestines, strengthening the intestinal barrier, and preventing leaky gut. HMOs also benefit gut health by promoting SCFA production and stimulating the growth of healthy Bifidobacteria.

20. Will HMO improve my gut microbiome?

Taking HMO will likely improve your gut microbiome, although every person is different. By taking HMOs, you can expect that your gut bacterial diversity will increase because more healthy bacteria will be able to thrive with the additional fuel from the prebiotics.

21. Can HMO help with leaky gut?

HMOs can help reduce or prevent leaky gut by providing fuel for the cells that line our intestines, which strengthens the intestinal barrier. Higher SCFA production is associated with a lower prevalence of leaky gut.

22. Can HMO help with constipation?

Research has found that HMOs can help with abnormal gastrointestinal issues like constipation. Constipation can be caused by gut microbiome dysfunction and insufficient fiber intake, which HMOs help rectify.

23. Can HMO help with diarrhea?

Yes, it’s possible that HMOs can help with diarrhea because HMOs provide healthy prebiotics for our gut cells. A study found that people with diarrhea who took HMOs daily had reductions in abnormal stool consistency.

24. Can HMO help with bloating?

Yes, HMOs may also help with bloating. The same study found that people who took HMOs had significantly reduced bloating and abdominal pain.

25. How does HMO help with IBS?

​​HMOs likely help with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) by improving the makeup of gut bacteria, reducing the overgrowth of harmful bacteria, and stimulating healthy bowel movements. This study also found that HMOs reduced overall IBS severity.

26. Does HMO help with SIBO?

HMOs may help with SIBO because HMOs can help regulate intestinal pH; one of the causes of SIBO is thought to be abnormal gut pH. HMOs can also help support healthier gut bacterial makeups, which may help with SIBO.

27. Why do you need to take HMOs when taking probiotics?

It’s important to take prebiotics (e.g. HMOs) alongside probiotics because they work synergistically as a synbiotic. When taken together, HMOs provide the food for healthy gut bacteria to grow. Without HMO prebiotics in the gut, the bacteria may die off before they can benefit you.

28. How does HMO impact the gut microbiome?

HMOs benefit the gut microbiome in several ways. HMOs are not digested or absorbed in the gut, so they travel to the large intestine, where they interact with bacteria. These gut bacteria ferment and digest the HMOs, leading to the production of healthy metabolites like SCFAs that benefit both the gut and overall health by preventing leaky gut.

HMOs also select preferentially for Bifidobacteria, a healthy type of bacteria. Plus, HMOs strengthen the immune system, which is tightly linked to the gut microbiome. HMO prebiotics also support the growth of Akkermansia muciniphila,a beneficial microbe for metabolism and body weight.

29. What is  Bifidobacteria?

The genus of bacteria called Bifidobacteria encompasses some of the most beneficial members of the gut microbiome. People with IBS, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), obesity, and type 2 diabetes tend to have lower levels of this bacterial genus. Bifidobacteria are the most abundant bacteria in the gut shortly after birth. Still, their levels decline with age, so it becomes essential to boost Bifidobacteria content through diet or supplements like HMOs.

30. Why is HMO needed for  Bifidobacteria to survive and stay in our gut?

A great way to make more Bifidobacteria in the gut is to take HMO prebiotics. One specific type of Bifidobacteria called Bifidobacterium longum infantis boosts the production of unique proteins that prevent leaky gut and keep our intestinal barrier lining strong. However, B. infantis needs to feed on HMOs for this to occur. Without the correct fuel, these beneficial bacteria can’t survive.

31. Why are HMOs so selective when it comes to Bifidobacteria?

Genomic research of B. infantis, which grows and survives so well with the addition of HMOs, has discovered a cluster of genes that encode milk oligosaccharide metabolism (which includes HMOs). This suggests that Bifidobacteria and HMOs evolved together, which may be why HMOs are so selective for Bifidobacteria. Other subspecies of Bifidobacteria, including B. bifidum, B. longum,and B. breve, have also been shown to grow well with HMOs.

32. Can HMOs help with Crohn's disease?

Yes, it’s possible that HMOs could help with Crohn’s disease, as increased levels of Bifidobacteriaare thought to benefit people with inflammatory bowel disease. Strengthening the gut barrier and increasing gut bacterial diversity would also be helpful for people with Crohn’s disease.

HMO and Immunity

33. How do HMOs impact the immune system?

The gut microbiome and the immune system are intricately linked by a secondary lymphatic organ called gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT), which protects the body from pathogens but allows tolerance to healthy bacteria.

HMOs may directly modulate immune responses by preventing the adhesion of pathogens to the intestinal lining or indirectly by inhibiting the activity of pro-inflammatory molecules called cytokines. HMOs prevent pathogenic adhesion by acting as a “decoy” receptor for unhealthy bacteria, like E.coli.The functions of these receptors suggest that HMOs are involved in regulating the innate immune system against infection.

34. What is the innate immune system?

The innate immune system is the body’s first line of defense against toxins, pathogens, or foreign objects. Also known as the non-specific immune response, innate immunity involves physical, chemical, and cellular defenses against pathogens to immediately prevent their spread throughout the body. This contrasts with the adaptive immune system, which remembers past pathogens and has specificity for those invaders.

35. What immune cells do HMOs affect or interact with?

HMOs have been shown to reduce the activity and expression of inflammatory cytokines, like interleukin-4 (IL-4), while increasing the expression of anti-inflammatory cytokines like interleukin-10 (IL-10) and interferon-gamma (IFN-γ). HMOs may indirectly benefit the immune system by boosting SCFA production; SCFAs increase the activity of T helper cells, macrophages, neutrophils, and natural killer (NK) cells.

HMOs and General Wellness

36. How do HMOs benefit cognition and brain health?

Two of the most prominent HMOs found in breastmilk, 2'-Fucosyllactose (2'-FL) and 6-sialyllactose (6'-SL), are vital for brain development in infants. Fucosylated proteins like 2’-FL are present in the brain’s hippocampus, where they play an essential role in memory and learning.

Some animal research has found that HMOs benefit the brain by strengthening synapses between neurons, which improves memory formation, learning, and retrieval. The SCFA metabolites of the HMOs (propionate, butyrate, and lactate) have also been linked to cognitive health. 

37. Can HMOs prevent Alzheimer's disease?

Although we can’t say for sure if HMOs prevent Alzheimer’s disease, we do know that HMO prebiotics are beneficial for brain health and cognition. Some reasons why HMOs may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease are because they promote healthier gut bacterial diversity and stimulate the production of neuro-active molecules, including neurotransmitters. Studies with animals have also found that HMOs help modulate behavior, learning, memory, and other forms of cognition, which may translate to human brain health, too.

38. What is the FUT2 gene?

The fucosyltransferase 2 (FUT2) gene encodes for an enzyme needed for blood group secretor status and protecting mucosal tissues. This gene is responsible for whether you are a “secretor” or “non-secretor.”  If you’re a secretor, your blood type (A, B, AB, or O) is not only in your blood but also in other body fluids (including human milk); a non-secretor would only have their blood type in their blood.

39. What is a FUT2 SNP (non-secretor)?

Around 80% of people are secretors. The other 20% —  non-secretors — have their FUT2 gene disrupted by a mutation also known as a SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism). Non-secretors with the FUT2 SNP tend to have much lower levels of beneficial bacteria in their intestines and an increased risk of leaky gut and dysfunctional immune systems. This leads non-secretors to have a higher risk of developing autoimmune diseases like type 1 diabetes, celiac disease, and inflammatory bowel disease.

40. How can HMOs help non-secretors?

HMOs may help improve gut health in non-secretors (people without the active FUT2 gene) by boosting the production of SCFAs and the abundance of Bifidobacterium, which strengthen the gut barrier and support innate immune system functioning. This may help counteract any gut and immune-related adverse effects of being a non-secretor.

41. Can HMOs help with food allergies?

HMOs may be able to prevent the development of food allergies by modulating immune responses. Infants who consume HMOs from breastmilk exhibit significantly lower rates of food allergies later in life than non-HMO consumers. However, researchers don’t know if HMOs could reverse food allergies once they’ve already developed.

42. Will I be able to digest food better with HMOs?

Yes, this is likely, because HMOs increase Bifidobacteria abundance, which are healthy bacteria that help break down food, absorb nutrients, and fend off unhealthy bacteria that might interfere with digestion.

43. Can HMOs fight infection?

Yes, this is likely, because HMOs support a strong innate immune response by preventing the adhesion of pathogens to the intestinal lining. HMOs also inhibit the activity of pro-inflammatory molecules called cytokines, and higher rates of inflammation can make you more vulnerable to developing infections.

44. Will HMO help my metabolism?

It’s possible; this is because HMOs promote healthier digestion, which can benefit overall metabolic function. Plus, shifting the gut microbiome toward more beneficial bacterial species helps the body absorb and metabolize food and nutrients better, which may increase satiety after meals and lower body weight. HMO prebiotics also support the growth of Akkermansia muciniphila, a beneficial microbe for metabolism and body weight.

45. Will HMO help me lose weight?

Research has linked prebiotic consumption and the gut microbiome to healthier body weights and a lower risk of obesity. Shifting the gut microbiome toward more beneficial bacterial species helps the body absorb and metabolize food better, which may reduce body weight. In one study, ​​2’-FL (a type of HMO) supplementation decreased fat mass and body weight gain in mice on a high-fat diet. HMO prebiotics also support the growth of Akkermansia muciniphila, a beneficial microbe for metabolism and body weight.

46. Will HMOs help my skin?

It’s possible; this is because HMO consumption is linked to reduced inflammation and improved immune responses, which are implicated in skin conditions like rosacea, psoriasis, and eczema. Gut health is also closely linked to skin health, including acne; therefore, consuming HMOs may indirectly help the skin by supporting the gut microbiome.

47. Will HMO help reduce inflammation?

Yes, HMOs have been studied for their role in reducing the activity and expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines and boosting the activity of anti-inflammatory cytokines.

General Nutrition Questions

48. What is the difference between fiber and prebiotics?

All prebiotics are dietary fibers, although not all dietary fibers are prebiotics. Both prebiotics and fiber are non-digestible carbohydrates that do not get broken down by our digestive system. However, not all fibers provide fuel for our intestinal cells like prebiotics do — some, like insoluble cellulose fiber, mainly provide bulk to stool and improve gut motility.

49. What are net carbohydrates?

The key difference between total carbohydrates (carbs) and net carbs is that total carbs include starches, dietary fiber, and sugars. Conversely, net carbs do not count any carbohydrates that our bodies do not digest, like HMOs and other fibers.

HMO vs. other Products

50. What’s the difference between HMOs and inulin?

Inulin is a type of prebiotic that is not digested by the gut and can help digestive health. Similar to HMO, inulin has also been shown to boost Bifidobacteria and SCFA activity. However, unlike HMOs, inulin is not found in human milk and has not exhibited the same benefits to cognitive, immune, and metabolic health. Plus, inulin does not prevent pathogens from binding to the intestines as HMOs can.

51. What’s the difference between HMOs and GOS?

GOS, or galactooligosaccharides, are also bifidogenic (Bifidobacteria-boosting) prebiotic compounds but are not molecularly identical to the HMO found in human milk. GOS does not act as decoys against harmful bacteria and has not been clinically proven to reduce IBS symptoms or support cognitive function in the same way HMOs do.

52. What’s the difference between HMOs and FOS?

FOS, or fructooligosaccharides, are also bifidogenic (Bifidobacteria-boosting) prebiotic compounds but are not molecularly identical to the HMO found in human milk. FOS does not act as decoys against bad bacteria and has not been clinically proven to reduce IBS symptoms or support cognitive function in the same way HMOs do.

53. What are the main differences between HMOs and other prebiotics?

HMOs are more effective than GOS, inulin, and FOS in stimulating the innate immune system, blocking pathogens, and fighting inflammation. FOS, GOS, and XOS (xylooligosaccharides) are oligosaccharides that usually contain only repeating sugar units such as fructose, xylose, and galactose. Conversely, HMOs also contain sugar units and other functional groups like N-acetyl-glucosamine (GlcNAc), fucose, and sialic acid. Due to these unique structures, HMO-based prebiotics provide more health benefits to humans than traditional prebiotics like GOS and FOS.

54. Are there other prebiotics that are complementary to HMO?

Although they have different properties, inulin, GOS, and FOS may be complementary prebiotics to HMOs because they also support healthy bacteria growth and SCFA production.

PureHMO® Prebiotic Product Information and Ingredients

55. What is 2’-Fucosyllactose (2’-FL)?

2’-FL is a type of fucosylated oligosaccharide and the most abundant HMO found in human milk. 2’FL was also the first HMO to be widely added to infant formula. This compound is why HMOs are so crucial to immune health because 2’FL is what inhibits the adhesion of pathogens onto the intestinal lining. 2’FL also fights inflammation by reducing the activity of pro-inflammatory cytokines.

56. What is sialic acid?

Sialic acids are attached to the outermost ends of dense and complex sugar chains, playing an essential role in cellular communication and immunity. They exist in many human body fluids, including saliva, tears, and human milk. HMOs with sialic acid attached to the ends of their sugars are called sialylated (or acidic) HMOs. This contrasts with HMOs that end in fucose, which are called fucosylated HMOs. HMO provides sialic acid as an essential nutrient to form gangliosides and poly-sialic-containing glycoproteins, which are critical for brain development and cognitive function.

57. Does HMO prebiotic have calories?

No, neither the PureHMO® capsules nor the powder contains calories because they are made up of non-digestible carbohydrates.

58. Are there probiotics in the HMO prebiotic?

The PureHMO® prebiotic capsules and powder do not contain probiotics, but they support the growth of healthy gut bacteria. If you want a probiotic-prebiotic combination, try the PureHMO® Synbiotic.

59. Which probiotic strains are boosted by HMOs to benefit health?

HMO prebiotics supports the growth of ~180 billion CFU probiotics per serving per 24 h, including Bifidobacteriumand Akkermansia muciniphila. These strains are beneficial for digestion, gut health, immunity, metabolism, and healthy body weights.

60. Do HMOs contain real human milk?

No, PureHMO® products do not contain any real human milk. These HMO products are made in the lab via a complex fermentation and precise purification process. But it still produces a bio-identical product to the HMOs found in breastmilk. In fact, Layer Origin HMO is technically referred to as HiMO, which stands for Human identical Milk Oligosaccharide.

61. Is HMO good for all ages?

Because HMOs are abundantly found in breast milk (and added to some infant formulas), these compounds are beneficial for all ages. Layer Origin Nutrition also carries PureHMO® for Kids, which is for children older than 12 months. By age one, many babies have stopped getting breast milk (or HMO-fortified formula), and it is safe to supplement with it at this age to continue reaping the benefits. HMO are also beneficial to adults’ microbiome due to its ability to boost Bifidobacteria.

62. Is HMO only beneficial for infants?

No, even though HMOs are only naturally found in human milk, they have been seen time and time again to be beneficial for adults, too.

63. Is HMO the same as colostrum?

No, colostrum is not the same thing as HMO. Colostrum is a mother’s first milk — the thick, yellowish, nutrient-rich fluid that comes in the first hours after birth. Although colostrum comes out of the breasts, it is not technically milk — rather, it is a milky fluid released just before breast milk production begins. However, both colostrum and HMOs are milk-adjacent substances that provide massive immune-related benefits to humans.

64. Is HMO the same as breast milk?

No, HMOs are one component of breast milk, but they are not the same thing. After fats and carbohydrates, HMOs are the third most abundant ingredient in breast milk. However, the HMOs in breast milk are not there to provide calories or nutrients to a baby — the HMOs are there to give immune and digestive support and to be able to fight off potentially dangerous infections and pathogens.

65. Why is there HMO in infant formula?

In recent decades, scientists started learning more about the benefits of HMOs in breast milk and how breastfed babies tended to have lower rates of infection, illness, and gastrointestinal issues. They thought that HMOs might be why, so some companies started adding HMOs to baby formula, mainly in the form of 2′-FL.

66. Are there people who should not take HMO?

An infant currently being breastfed or consuming an HMO-fortified formula will not need to take additional HMO products. Otherwise, HMOs should be safe for most people. However, we recommend ​​consulting a physician if you are pregnant, under 18, or have a medical condition.

67. Is this HMO product made in the USA?

Yes, PureHMO® is made in the USA.

HMO History

68. How are HMO prebiotics made?

Layer Origin Nutrition’s HMO products are fermented from lactose and then purified, resulting in a white powder that is considered bio-identical to the most abundant HMO in breast milk, 2′-FL. There is no human milk in Layer Origin HMO products.

69. When were HMOs first discovered?

Scientists first identified a large fraction of non-lactose carbohydrate in breast milk, which they called gynolactose, in the 1930s. Its role remained unclear until the 1950s when it was identified as the same entity as the “Bifidus factor” — compounds that boosted Bifidobacterium activity.

Scientific breakthroughs later uncovered hundreds of these Bifido-boosting factors that appeared to be there to feed the baby’s gut bacteria. This inspired research into the newly renamed human milk oligosaccharides. By 2000, researchers discovered more than 100 HMOs, which provide food for Bifidobacterium and other bacteria species.

70. Why was HMO discovered

In the early 1900s, scientists were searching for reasons why breastfed infants had better health and survival rates than formula-fed infants, which led them to discover gynolactose, which then led to the discovery of HMOs.

71. Where were HMOs first found or discovered?

Several scientists and researchers primarily located in Europe were responsible for the various breakthroughs that led to HMOs being discovered. In the early 1930s, researchers characterized this unique carbohydrate in breast milk and named it “gynolactose.”

A few years later, the scientists Michel Polonowski and Jean Montreuil from France separated the first fucosyllactoses (2′-fucosyllactose and 3-fucosyllactose) from “gynolactose.” This marked the discovery of the first individual HMO. Montreuil's group in France and Kuhn's group in Germany discovered more than a dozen individual HMOs in the following years. All in all, it was a global effort.

72. Are there any doctors who recommend taking HMOs?

Yes, Dr. Will Bulsiewicz, the author of “Fiber Fueled”; and Dr. Rhonda Patrick, Ph.D.; Dr. William Davis, the author of Best-selling book “Super Gut”, recommend HMO prebiotics.

73. Are there any health books that recommend taking HMOs?

Yes, the book The Immunity Code by Joel Greene recommends taking HMOs. As Joel Greene states, “What you're going to find with HMOs is that they are endemic to the formation of the immune system in the infant gut — and so HMOs have very, very strong presence informing immunity in the gut.”

Questions about Ingredients, Allergies, and HMOs

74. Can I take HMOs if I am lactose intolerant?

Yes. Research has shown that many people with lactose intolerance can tolerate up to 12 grams of lactose in one sitting, approximately the amount in one cup (230 ml) of milk. Layer Origin Nutrition recommends a serving size of 2.0 grams to start. Therefore, even people with lactose intolerance should be well below the limit of what they can tolerate if they follow the recommended dosage. If you have severe lactose intolerance, speak with your doctor first.

75. Can I take HMOs if I am allergic to dairy?

We recommend you to only take HMO only with your doctors’ approval if you are allergic to cows’ milk.

76. Are the HMO prebiotic products dairy-free?

Because the PureHMO® products are derived from lactose, they are not technically dairy-free.

People with milk allergies should still only proceed with a physician’s approval.

77. Do the HMO capsules contain any gelatin?

No, the PureHMO® capsules do not contain gelatin.

78. Are the HMO prebiotics vegan?

No, because the PureHMO® prebiotic products are derived from lactose and purified in the lab, they are technically not vegan.

79. Are the HMO prebiotics gluten-free?

Yes, the PureHMO® prebiotic products are gluten-free.

80. Do the HMO powder or capsules contain yeast?

The HMO products begin with high-purity lactose that's fermented via bacteria or yeast — kind of like the fermentation process for wine. However, the HMOs go through many steps of purification that remove the bacteria or yeast, resulting in a final product that is 98% pure.

81. Are HMO supplements keto-friendly?

Yes, HMO supplements are keto-friendly because they do not contain any sugar or net carbohydrates.

82. Are HMO supplements Paleo-friendly?

Yes, HMO supplements would be considered Paleo-friendly.

83. Do the HMO powder or capsules contain additives?

No, the PureHMO® powder and capsules do not contain additives.

84. Do the HMO powder or capsules contain added sugar?

No, the PureHMO® powder and capsules do not contain added sugar.

85. Do the HMO powder or capsules contain flow aids or flavor additives?

No, the PureHMO® powder and capsules do not contain flow aids or flavor additives.

86. Can I take HMO if I have histamine intolerance?

Yes, you can take PureHMO® prebiotic products if you have histamine intolerance, which is an overproduction of the chemical histamine in the body or the inability to break it down. Although histamine intolerance is not a food allergy, its symptoms can mimic an allergic response and involve the immune system. HMOs may help support people with histamine intolerances by boosting the growth of Bifidobacteria that breaks down histamine.

87. Why do you choose 2'-Fucosyllactose (2’-FL) in your formulation?

We chose to use 2’-FL in our formulation because it is the most abundant HMO found in human milk and it is one of the clinically-proven HMO.

88. Do Layer Origin Nutrition PureHMO Prebiotic capsules contain anything else besides 2'-FL?

In addition to 2’-Fucosyllactose, PureHMO® Prebiotic capsules only contain organic pea protein and hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC capsules)

89. Is PureHMO® created from cow's milk?

No, although PureHMO® is created from lactose, which is found in cow’s milk.

HMO Prebiotic Usage, Dosage, and Instructions

90. Should I take HMO with food or on an empty stomach?

Either! It doesn't make a difference either way. This is because the HMO will not be digested the way food would be digested. HMO makes its way undigested through your body down to the large intestine, where it becomes the food for our bacteria. So, feel free to take HMO with or without food.

91. Should I take HMO with water?

People taking HMO capsules typically do so with a glass of water. People who take HMO powder can do so with any beverage. Joel Greene, the author of The Immunity Code, recommends taking HMOs as part of a smoothie.

92. Should you combine HMO prebiotics with a probiotic? 

While you do not have to combine HMO prebiotics with probiotics, it can definitely help support gut health. This combination, known as a synbiotic, provides both the healthy bacteria our guts need and the fuel for these bacteria to thrive (the prebiotic).

93. Does the HMO prebiotic powder have a taste?

No, the PureHMO prebiotic powder is tasteless.

94. What is the quantity of HMOs in PureHMO Prebiotic Powder?

Layer Origin Nutrition's PureHMO® Prebiotics contain 2000 mg of HMO per scoop or serving. 

95. What’s the difference between HMO powder and capsules?

The only difference is a personal preference. Some people prefer the ease of taking capsules, while others do not like taking pills and may choose to mix the powder into a liquid.

96. Does the HMO prebiotics need to be refrigerated?

No, neither the PureHMO® capsules nor the powder needs to be refrigerated. They are completely shelf-stable. However, keeping them out of direct sunlight and away from other potentially intense heat/moisture sources is essential to maintain their integrity.

97. How pure is PureHMO®?

PureHMO® is 98% pure, according to laboratory tests. After the fermentation of lactose, HMOs go through many purification steps to remove all microorganism cells and other starting ingredients used for the fermentation, resulting in a final product that is typically more than 98% pure and safe for human consumption.

98. How often should you take HMOs?

It is safe to take HMOs daily, or twice daily, and many people do.

99. Should you take HMO in the morning or night?

You can take HMO prebiotic products in either the morning or night, whichever you prefer! Many people enjoy taking it in the morning so they don’t forget. The prebiotic should be consumed at approximately the same time each day. However, the time of day does not particularly matter because HMO is indigestible so it can be taken with or without food.

100. Can you take HMO forever, or do you need to take breaks?

As of now, there does not seem to be any available research stating that you need to take breaks from HMOs. This makes sense, as infants and toddlers can breastfeed for several years without taking breaks.

101. Can I add HMO prebiotics into hot coffee or hot tea?

Yes, you can add HMO prebiotic powders to hot coffee or hot tea by simply stirring it into your mug. The powder is tasteless and mixes well. However, you should not add any probiotic powders to hot liquids, as the heat will kill healthy bacteria.

102. Why can't I give HMOs to my baby who is less than one year old?

Infants under age one do not need supplemental HMOs because they are already receiving HMOs through breastmilk or HMO-fortified baby formula.

103. How quickly will you see results when taking HMO?

Our gut microbiomes are very sensitive and can quickly shift within three to four days. Therefore, you may be able to see gut-related changes within just a few days of taking HMO prebiotic products. The benefits to weight and cognition would likely take longer.

104. What should I do if I take HMOs and they seem to make my gut problems worse?

If you are not used to consuming fiber-rich foods or have poor gut health to begin with, it’s possible that HMO prebiotics may feel uncomfortable before things get better. If this sounds like you, then start with the smallest dose and gradually increase as you feel better.

105. What is the best dosage amount of HMO per day?

In general, Layer Origin Nutrition recommends that adults take 2000 mg of HMOs per day in the beginning and up to 4000-6000 mg per day after the first month.

106. What is the maximum dosage of HMO 2’-FL I can take?

Clinical studies showed that taking up to 10g of HMO per day is generally well tolerated. If you are taking Layer Origin Nutrition PureHMO® and want to increase the dosage, we recommend that you increase gradually from 2 g (1 scoop of powder) to 4 g (2 scoops) and then upwards to 5 g if needed (2.5 scoops). 

107. What is the benefit of combining HMO with apple peel powder and red polyphenol powder?

The combination of PureHMO® Prebiotic Powder, Organic Apple Peel Powder, and Simple Reds Polyphenol Powder is a healthy gut trio. The polyphenols in the red powder plus the additional fiber from apple peels work synergistically to help your healthy gut bacteria thrive and repopulate. This combination is especially good for gut recovery after taking antibiotics.

108. Are human milk oligosaccharides safe?

Yes! PureHMO® Prebiotic is GRAS (generally recognized as safe by the FDA). The safety of HMO 2’FL and LNnt have been proven in numerous clinical studies conducted at top universities and laboratories worldwide. In addition, thousands of adults have taken HMOs at doses greater than the 2000 mg per day recommended by Layer Origin Nutrition.

 

References:

Bode L. Human milk oligosaccharides: prebiotics and beyond. Nutr Rev. 2009;67 Suppl 2:S183-S191. doi:10.1111/j.1753-4887.2009.00239.x

Docq S, Spoelder M, Wang W, Homberg JR. The Protective and Long-Lasting Effects of Human Milk Oligosaccharides on Cognition in Mammals. Nutrients. 2020;12(11):3572. Published 2020 Nov 21. doi:10.3390/nu12113572

Lee S, Goodson M, Vang W, Kalanetra K, Barile D, Raybould H. 2'-fucosyllactose Supplementation Improves Gut-Brain Signaling and Diet-Induced Obese Phenotype and Changes the Gut Microbiota in High Fat-Fed Mice. Nutrients. 2020;12(4):1003. Published 2020 Apr 5. doi:10.3390/nu12041003

Kho ZY, Lal SK. The Human Gut Microbiome - A Potential Controller of Wellness and Disease. Front Microbiol.2018;9:1835. Published 2018 Aug 14. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2018.01835

Palsson OS, Peery A, Seitzberg D, Amundsen ID, McConnell B, Simrén M. Human Milk Oligosaccharides Support Normal Bowel Function and Improve Symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Multicenter, Open-Label Trial. Clin Transl Gastroenterol. 2020;11(12):e00276. doi:10.14309/ctg.0000000000000276

Sela DA, Mills DA. Nursing our microbiota: molecular linkages between bifidobacteria and milk oligosaccharides. Trends Microbiol. 2010;18(7):298-307. doi:10.1016/j.tim.2010.03.008

Slavin J. Fiber and prebiotics: mechanisms and health benefits. Nutrients. 2013;5(4):1417-1435. Published 2013 Apr 22. doi:10.3390/nu5041417 


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