April 19, 2022 18 min read
by Brandon Moase
Follow: @thenutritionalparadigm on Instagram
Believe it or not, there was a time before Layer Origin — a time spent scanning website after website, researching company after company, scouring the net for the best deal-to-ingredient ratio I could make sense of.
Sure, I was able to find HMOs in various baby formulas, typically labeled with "2'-Fucosyllactose," but what I couldn't find was something free of junk.
So here I am, a fully grown adult, contemplating going full-circle back to baby formula once again, but perhaps, in this case, it was an overall net positive. After all, I was only taking it strictly for the HMO content and not the hydrogenated soybean oil, amongst other additives and chemicals on that label I could not yet pronounce.
Do we seriously feed this stuff to babies?
You would think with all the buying power these corporations have, they could create something just a little bit better — a little bit more appealing — but here we are.
Let's keep in mind that this was before Layer Origin's launch in early 2020. At that juncture, my options for a pure HMO were few and far between.
I first had become aware of HMOs and their benefits after reading the book The Immunity Codeby Joel Greene.Within it read his protocol: a no-nonsense, plain and simple approach to resetting the gut. He gave me hope as I entered into a new era of nutrition — an era — as it now unfolds, that was years ahead of its time.
The central part of the protocol consisted of adding HMOs (Human Milk Oligosaccharides, in the form of baby formula) to my breakfast each morning for about 3 weeks. The idea was to slowly titrate in higher amounts at key times to allow the body to adjust.
This would then kickstart the fermentation process of a lifetime. An internal war in which we now have grounds on winning. To my surprise, it was actually working. I noticed differences in digestion immediately, and while it was nothing drastic, I could tell it was definitely helping.
Now, let this act as a preface to the entire article: The key thing to remember here is that some of us have a longer road to travel. Perhaps our gut health and microbiome have become so disrupted and compromised that it may take longer to pick up all the pieces again. Be patient. Be consistent. And for the love of God, purchase a pure HMO powder; you will forever be thankful.
Baby formula, to say the least, was not sustainable in the slightest. Not only coming in at a high price point, it included various chemicals, empty calories, and contained lower-than-optimal amounts of HMOs to see any substantial results.
This is where Layer Origin came in. Really, the reason I write this is that I am a believer — not only in the research but in the results. If I can truly suggest one supplement for everything and for everyone, and I mean more than just gut health, it would be without a doubt HMOs. I guarantee this will be in everyone's supplement cabinet within the next 10 years. Just by reading this alone, you're already ahead of the game. With that said, I hope this information serves you as well as it did myself.
It tends to turn many heads when people realize that you're supplementing a derivative of breast milk. Let me just preface by saying that HMOs, otherwise known as Human Milk Oligosaccharides, act as a prebiotic.
They are long-chain, complex milk sugars that are synthesized from cow's milk. Luckily we do not need to ask actual humans.
When I first heard about HMOs personally, I am not going to lie, I had a little bit of resistance — curious, but a tad resistant nonetheless. However, to fully understand anything, we have to be completely open and honest to its nature and its effects.
At this point in my life, I was willing to try absolutely anything to help fix the "every-gut-issue-known-to-man" crisis that existed within me. Coming from an individual who has suffered intensively from food sensitivities, IBS, skin issues, joint problems, etc. I would often hear that it "all stems from within the gut microbiome" as our body is merely just a vehicle for our microbes.
If you are like me, reading this in hope of a possible solution that does not involve fad dieting, fasting 23.75 hours of the day, avoiding not only consumption, but even direct eye contact with bread or cheese, then let this serve as a shortcut to get you on track in only 30 days.
As mentioned, to understand anything, we have to be open and honest about its nature. So first thing's first; what are HMOs, and why should we take them? Let's answer this question by understanding the origin, structure, and where immunity all began.
First, another quick shout-out to the individual who has revolutionized the game and inspired this research: Joel Greene — the aforementioned author of The Immunity Code. If you are interested in learning more and changing your life in two easy steps: getting a hold of some HMOs and a copy of his book, you're all set.
If we look closer at where immunity all began, we see that it started with mother's milk. One-third of mothers' milk is actually comprised of these specialized carbohydrates called Human Milk Oligosaccharides.
There are hundreds of different strains of HMOs that exist, and as of right now, we are utilizing the safest and most effective strain, 2'-Fucosyllactose. It has been proven to be a gut health powerhouse and has been researched intensively.
In years to come, we will see many companies following suit, producing different strains and products.
So before we start to see this market become flooded with quickly synthesized powder, I suggest you support the pioneers of it all, Layer Origin Nutrition — as they are clearly, ahead of the game.
Human Milk Oligosaccharides are specialized carbohydrates at the forefront of building our immune system and are one of the best ways to populate the master bacteria, Bifidobacteria. We will begin to uncover why this is extremely important in due time, but for now, let's dive into how it builds immunity.
HMOs are considered Glycans, and whenever we see immunity, we see Glycans. They are long-chain sugars that are bound to proteins that facilitate "binding."
They attach to various viruses and pathogens like E. Coli and H. Pylori by acting as a decoy. Now luckily, for us, we can synthesize these unique carbohydrates and begin to actually reset the gut microbiome properly. This will help protect our immune system from any unwanted guests.
Our immune system is constantly on the lookout for foreign molecules, and if detected, it will attack the current threat at hand. These foreign molecules that trigger this immune response are called Antigens. The surface of a pathogen is covered in antigens; different pathogens carry different antigens. The immune system responds with white blood cells that produce antibodies. The antibodies latch onto antigens and fit like a key inside a lock, which are then destroyed by these white blood cells.
There are particular types of antigens, called histo-blood-group antigens (HBGAs) which interact directly with the human norovirus. Now, we see something quite special with HMOs as they are structurally very similar to HBGAs. Here, they act as a decoy and bind to these specific antigens. I will stop using the word antigen for now. However, it is essential to know that this is exactly why HMOs have robust powers regarding immune protection.
Here is the crucial idea: HMOs act as decoys and bind to various pathogens and viruses to help protect us from incoming invaders.
HMOs were now beginning to heavily pique my interest and before I try anything, I make sure to research the hell out of it — to truly understand its capabilities and shortcomings.
Given the research of HMOs and immunity during a global pandemic, it was made apparent that focusing on preventative measures from an internal standpoint would indeed be the ultimate first step. We could wear all the masks, headgear, gloves, and bathe in sanitizer after each social interaction; however, what does it all matter if our immune system is compromised to begin with?
When we dive deeper into immunity, we often hear Macrophages, which simply means "Big-Eater." Let's think of macrophages as our first line of defense — similar to white blood cells.
Unfortunately, with today's average diet, it becomes relatively easy to imbalance the ratios of inflammatory to anti-inflammatory phenotypes of macrophages. We need to remember that imbalance equals disease. Our body's homeostasis, especially in the gut, will be essential to our well-being and longevity.
This is where we can begin the use of HMOs to actually steer these macrophages in the right direction. We will guide them to essential tissues responsible for restoring the gut lining, building immunity, and so much more.
When we begin to look deeper in the gut and the sensing of antigens, it tends to be controlled by what is called "Dendritic Cells." Dendritic Cells are heavily responsible for proper immune function and are correlated directly with the metabolism of our master bacteria: Bifidobacteria.
Bifidobacteria is the master regulator of the gut and tends to maintain the homeostasis needed to repair, heal, and prevent disease. Once we feed "Bifido" correctly, it will take care of the rest.
The key idea: HMOs steer macrophages to become anti-inflammatory and promote higher Bifidobacteria levels in the gut.
Whenever we see longevity and an iron gut, we see high levels of Bifidobacteria. On the other hand, when we see food sensitivities, Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, IBS, allergies, low energy, brain fog, and even various types of cancer, we tend to see deficient levels of Bifidobacteria.
In The Immunity Code, Joel Greene makes an exceptional case for why we really only need to focus on fermenting Bifidobacteria, as this will, in turn, work to feed the rest of the bacteria within.
This occurs through what's known as "Cross-Feeding Reactions," which work as a trickle-down effect to feed everything else down the food chain. There are many different strains of Bifidobacteria, and each in its own right works uniquely to promote fantastic health effects.
So what may cause Bifidobacteria levels to decline?
Perhaps it's through prolonged antibiotic use, excess sugar and processed food consumption, obesity, being a C-Section baby, suffering from IBS, or even just age itself. In extreme cases, we see Bifido levels drop as low as 5%, a significant indicator of ill health and disease.
However, when looking at a child, for example, we tend to see the exact opposite. We start to see Bifido levels hovering around 95%, mainly in-turn from recent breast milk feeding and the content of Human Milk Oligosaccharides. This is why children tend to have excellent energy levels, better digestion, and fewer inflammatory markers overall.
Now let's take a look at what some of the research suggests about HMOs and Bifidobacteria production.
HMOs selectively feed key strains of Bifidobacteria, which in turn allow us to access better digestion, improved cognition, less brain fog, increased energy levels, etc. 'Promoting Bifidobacteria Longum is associated with youth. This strain digests the carbs found in HMOs.
Conversely, feeding the body HMOs will help ferment this bacteria. When HMOs are present, it makes anti-inflammatory signal molecules. It also makes proteins that tighten the gut junction.' In summary, HMOs feed the youth extending bacteria, Bifidobacteria Longum.
One research study shows that 'increasing Bifidobacteria Longum produces a key protein called Seping that sidesteps gluten intolerance.'
Another research paper shows 'by selectively targeting Bifidobacteria in the gut, it will help the body suppress fat storage by the production of a key protein.'
Another study highlights that "Bifido correlates with decreased inflammation status and improved ability to use blood sugar for energy instead of storing it as fat."
For good measure, here is a nice snippet from The Immunity Code, "At a high-level Bifido helps us digest carbs, protects against pathogens and helps us make vitamin B and antioxidants. Bifidobacteria is also central to immunity."
I hope there is no confusion about how HMOs help ferment Bifidobacteria and its importance to our health and longevity.
Now that we're equipped with some good research and knowledge let's take this one step further as we've only just scratched the surface.
Throughout my health journey, the theme that constantly emerged was my inability to digest carbohydrates. What I had noticed was that I began to reinforce my own echo chamber. I surrounded myself with individuals who supported the notion that carbs were "evil." It worked for me, so it must have been true! I believed that humans were not supposed to be eating dairy, bread, grain, and excess carbs. Surrounded by viewpoints and research that only solidified my current ideals, I would always make the case that excess carbohydrates directly impacted inflammatory markers without ever questioning that it may have something to do with my bacteria. Let alone even having the ability to transform my microbiome.
I transitioned into Paleo and Carb-Cycling around my activity levels, OMAD (one meal a day), Keto, Vegan, FODMAP (which is the worst protocol known to man, in my opinion), and even the infamous Carnivore diet. One thing I knew for sure was that none of these worked long-term. Not only were they not sustainable, but they were simply just band-aid solutions. Now, don't get me wrong, Keto, Fasting, Carnivore, Vegan, and all of these ways of eating can be highly healing in the short term. But, unfortunately, this is merely my experience of how fad dieting presents an ability to create further imbalances within the body.
Here I am at the time, with high inflammatory markers, IBS flair-ups, unable to digest even a single almond, and whatever it was, it would all bloat me like a balloon. At this point, I knew it was me and not the food, although I didn't want to admit it.
I was beyond frustrated; I felt trapped. Nothing seemed to work, not even in the slightest. I've heard many others going through the same situation, and until now, there was nothing that genuinely worked. Now, I want this information to serve as the solution to your problem. We will break down how HMOs can repair the transport systems needed in the gut to help re-digest all your favorite foods once again.
There is another major player in this game, and it's called Butyrate. I'm sure many of us may be familiar with this short-chain fatty acid, perhaps when supplementing ketones like "beta-hydroxy-butyrate."
Butyrate is a particular fatty acid that is produced by the critical bacteria Akkermansia Muciniphila as well as Bifidobacteria. Butyrate works to steer macrophages in the gut lining, which, if we remember, are also known in research as "dendritic cells." So, when we are optimally producing Butyrate, we can steer these dendritic cells to become anti-inflammatory and have them work to heal and seal the gut lining.
Learning how to feed Butyrate correctly can be absolutely life-changing. Luckily, we already have the first step: HMOs.
HMOs work by increasing Bifidobacteria, which, in turn, will produce reasonable amounts of Butyrate and help recycle A-Muciniphila (assuming this has been adequately fed and levels are optimal).
We know Butyrate is important, but it's never as easy as just taking a supplement. There are a few different fermentation pathways to make Butyrate — 4 specific pathways to be exact. The main path in which we want to synthesize Butyrate is from the pyruvate pathway. If we are ingesting butyrate orally, we are actually stimulating a pathway that could quite possibly be oncogenic (cancerous) in the long-term.
It becomes apparent to ensure that the machinery and transport systems within our body are working effectively and efficiently — and HMOs are an excellent first step.
Taking a deeper dive, in The Immunity Code, Joel Greene highlights some fundamental research showing that many gut issues and even food sensitivities, like gluten intolerance, for example, tend to be caused by low levels of Butyrate and Bifidobacteria. This ultimately leads to low intestinal Butyrate levels.
The key idea: Low Bifido levels = Low levels of Butyrate = Gluten Intolerance.
For some of you reading this right now, I'm sure you're wondering if you read that correctly, and yes, yes, you did. Food sensitivities are not a food problem. The problem is and has always been that you lack the bacteria to digest these foods.
Let me once again preface by ensuring you that this is not a gimmick. This is actual research with proven results. This truly highlights the power of food and the microbiome.
Food sensitivities played a huge role throughout my life -- always looking for the gluten-free, lactose-free, nut-free, fun-free option at every meal. I cursed those who devoured bread freely with no issues. I chalked it all up to the human genome — damn these genes of mine! I thought that those who suffered from lactose and gluten intolerances have not made the genetic mutations necessary to digest them.
The issue here is that it does not take into account the other three genomes at play. This is because the human genome only constitutes what's happening one-third of the time. This is why genetic testing will never paint the full picture as they do not consider the other two genomes at play: The Mitochondrial Genome and The Bacterial Genome.
Research has shown that there are more genes in your microbiome than in your human genome — showing that we have over 100 microbial genes that are all linked to aging, longevity, and disease.
Now to be successful and reach optimal health and digestion, we will need all 3 genomes to partake in constant conversation with each other. The only way they can do so is through bacteria. More specifically, Bifidobacteria. Optimizing Bifidobacteria and Butyrate production will be the answer to reversing a food intolerance, rid ourselves of unwanted GI stress and inflammation, and of course, helping to prevent disease and promote longevity.
So here it is, "Carb Training" as presented in The Immunity Code. And trust me, it works. This will be a 6-week process for maximal effects.
Step 1: Supplement a low dose of HMOs at breakfast and continue to scale up for 2 weeks* (start at around 700 mg and continue to build up to 2 grams)
Step 2: Supplement one scoop of any "Super Reds" polyphenol powder at breakfast for 2 weeks* alongside your HMOs (you can find these at any health foods store).
*During these 2 weeks, it will be best to entirely avoid your trigger foods while the HMOs and reds powder are beginning to repair Butyrate transport by feeding Bifidobacteria correctly.
Step 3: This will be week 1 of the next 4 weeks. Begin to "micro-dose" your trigger foods. For the first week, you want to take a thimble-sized of, say, bread, cheese, nuts, or whatever you find causes you distress. This will be no more than the size of half your thumb-nail. Continue to take your reds powder and HMOs at breakfast.
Step 4: Scale-up and dose 1 full thumb-nail size of your trigger food for the next 7 days. The key idea is that the foods that cause the problems will also be the ones to solve them.
Step 5: Continue to scale up for another 7 days and increase your dose to about half the size of your thumb. We are looking to increase Bifidobacteria while ingesting small amounts of difficult-to-digest carbs to re-train your body to digest them.
Step 6: Consume a higher dose, about the total size of your thumb to scale. Ensuring this entire time, we are dosing reds and HMOs for one last week.
There you have it. In about 6 weeks, your intolerances, be it gluten, lactose, or whatever it may be, are gone and will never come back. You are years ahead of the game.
The first thing I noticed was bloating and flatulence -- lots of it. Rest assured, this is a good sign. This is the bacteria doing its job. Bloating simply means fermentation, and we are now fermenting the correct bacteria that will provide us with life-changing results.
Most of us, myself included, have likely been fermenting the wrong bacteria for years, and it can come from even one sugar-rich meal.
Now, as soon as we consume something rich in processed sugar, we start to favor the Clostridia family of bacteria, which hinders Bifidobacteria. If it has been years, where the Clostridia bacteria have now governed our physical body internally, there will almost certainly be war within us as we begin to feed the opposing and beneficial, Bifidobacteria.
Now, what Layer Origin Nutrition provides are HMOs without empty calories and added chemicals.
You are getting a pure and potent dose of HMOs, so ensure you start very small and allow the body to adjust accordingly.
To gauge how you react, your journey should start at a low dose of HMOs: roughly 700 mg with breakfast for the first three days. After that, the objective is to slowly increase to a total of two grams with breakfast as the body is now adjusting to the fermentation of Bifidobacteria.
You have now begun one of the most transformative health-related processes of your life.
First things first: increased and more sustained energy levels. It was as if I had drunk a couple cups of coffee without the jitters that lasted the entire day. When you ferment Bifidobacteria correctly, you begin to flood the gut with B-Vitamin-producing bacteria (which is terrific for energy levels).
Second: improved cognition and reduced brain fog. Workflow became smoother; books were easier to read; my attention and focus genuinely increased. We tend to underestimate the profound effects that bacteria have over every aspect of our body, including our brain.
Third: not only could I now digest raw onions, garlic, and chickpeas without the painful bloat that commonly followed. After the adjustment period, my ability to digest many trigger foods simply disappeared.
For anyone suffering from similar gut and digestion issues, this probably seems too good to be true. Rest assured, this s*** works, and it's just the tip of the iceberg.
Fourth: I reversed my gluten and lactose intolerance. Using the step-by-step protocol of the functional fermenters, HMOs, and red phenol powder, I was able to micro-dose these issues away and finally digest the bread and cheese I had longed for, with ease, after only 6 weeks.
Fifth: improved immunity. I honestly feel invincible. Not even one hint of a cold, cough, or virus; nothing. As we have covered extensively how important HMOs are for the immune system, I suggest you get started for this reason alone.
Sixth: weight loss. The leaky gut has been repaired. Butyrate transport has been corrected. IBS, healed. Food sensitivities, reversed. My body is now able to digest anything that crosses its path. As we have covered, higher populations of Bifidobacteria are highly correlated with a reduction in body fat. I see this as a necessary first step in your weight loss journey.
Everyone. Simple as that. I can honestly recommend HMOs to almost everybody. Think of the body as a vehicle and HMOs as an oil change. The more miles you travel, the more wear and tear the vehicle takes — such that sooner or later, you'll need an oil change. Depending on the total "mileage" some may require an oil change sooner or even more frequently than others.
This can also depend on a few factors, like your diet choices throughout the week. For example, if you spend your days parked outside the McDonald's drive-thru, you will need HMOs more frequently. This is because you will deplete the oil (Bifidobacteria) quite quickly this way (I will strongly advise you to please not do this).
HMOs work to replenish Bifidobacteria levels, which is necessary for cognition, energy, digestion, immunity, and disease prevention. Unfortunately, as we have covered, Bifido levels begin to decline with age, with processed food consumption, with antibiotic usage, from prolonged IBS, and so forth.
Like anything we consume, good or bad, we can always create an imbalance. Just as we can inequality water and create electrolyte imbalances, the same can go for HMOs and Bifidobacteria. Though it is not likely that something severe will come from it, it may not work as well as it once did. This is because the body adjusts very rapidly to absolutely everything. This is where we should always exercise caution no matter what we're taking.
I recommend using HMOs, and even Joel Greene's gut reset protocol strategically. The gut reset protocol totals about 21 days and includes consuming the skins of apples, a red phenol powder, and of course, HMOs. This protocol is for anyone who wants to unlock a deeper part of themselves, digest foods they once feared, aid in weight loss, think more transparently, and have an immune system they can rely on.
A good rule of thumb is to dose HMOs for one month every three months — totaling 4 times a year (a quarterly reset). However, I will also dose HMOs in combination with red phenol powder for seven days if, finishing a round of antibiotics, after a horrible week of eating or simply listening to the warning signs my body is telling me that my gut health is out of whack.
The majority of my adult life has felt like an endless search for an answer that did not exist. I admit I got trapped in the hype of probiotics.
I listened to all the positive reinforced research reverberating around the echo chamber that only allowed me to see such a narrow scope.
I was purchasing the next best product on the market, billions, if not trillions of strains ingested at all times, with all meals, and without a meal — any strategy imaginable — I tried. And, of course, nothing worked.
In fact, if anything, this ended up making things worse by giving me SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth).
Not only did I have bigger holes in my pockets, paying for all these possible solutions, but now I also added another gut issue to my already impressive portfolio.
The small intestine is meant to be sterile, and with probiotic capsules, we cannot always guarantee where they open up in the gut. This is how we can end up with the right bacteria in the wrong place and develop cases of SIBO.
There is an order of operations with absolutely everything, not only just what we are taking but also when and how we take these things. Once we apply these factors to the equation, we get a better result.
This is not to discourage probiotic usage but to understand that better results will follow when we start with prebiotics, like HMOs, before entering the vast realm of probiotic supplements.
A quick rule of thumb to remember, look for the strains of Bifidobacterium: Breve, Infantis, Longum, and Bifidum, and always take them with food.
Ensure that we have healed and sealed the gut with Joel Greene's protocol before we partake in probiotics and of course, make sure to follow up with a skilled practitioner to help guide you in your journey of gut recovery.
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