Functional Sugars in Nutrition
Sugars – also known as oligosaccharides and monosaccharides – are required for many essential functions in the human body as well as providing energy in the form of calories (the primary function of disaccharides such as sucrose and maltose). For example, human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) contribute to the protective function of mother’s milk.
These complex oligosaccharides, which have been consumed by infants since humans evolved, have diverse functional properties. Preclinical and clinical studies have shown that these indigestible sugars reduce the risk of infection from certain bacterial and viral pathogens, stimulate the growth of beneficial intestinal bacteria through their prebiotic effect, reduce the risk of inflammation, and promote brain development and neuronal activity.
In experiments using cultured human cells, the HMOs 2′-Fucosyllactose and 3‑Fucosyllactose have been shown to inhibit the binding of common bacterial diarrheal pathogens such as Campylobacter jejuni, certain Salmonella species and pathogenic Escherichia coli. The human milk oligosaccharides in food mimic oligosaccharide structures on the cell surface and therefore act as decoys. Pathogens cannot distinguish between HMOs and genuine structures on the cell surface. Pathogens entering the body therefore bind irreversibly to the HMOs, preventing their subsequent interactions with cells because the receptors are already blocked. The pathogens are therefore excreted together with the indigestible oligosaccharides and the risk of infection is reduced.
The HMOs manufactured by Jennewein Biotechnologie are marketed under the brand name Mum’s Sweet Secret. The Mum’s Sweet Secret brand and the corresponding logo inform customers that these products contain HMOs produced by Jennewein Biotechnologie.