What are the differences between Probiotics and HNOs (the ingredient in Holigos™)?
Probiotics? Prebiotics? Soluble fibers? HMOs (Human Milk Oligosaccharides)? HNOs (Human-Natural Oligosaccharides)? Microbiome? It can all get very confusing, so we decided to ask Professor Glenn Gibson to explain. Professor Glenn Gibson is the Professor of Food Microbiology and Head of Food Microbial Sciences at the University of Reading and has published numerous articles related to the topic.
What is our microbiome and why should we be interested in it?
Our intestinal microbiome is the collection of bacteria that resides in our intestines. The number and activity of these bacteria gradually increase from the stomach to the small intestine then to the large intestine (colon). The colon is estimated to contain over 10 times more bacterial cells than there are human cells in the entire body. Therefore, it is not surprising that the intestinal microbiome can impact our health. This impact of the microbiome on health is now a major area of research. One potential way of promoting health is to increase bacteria that are positive for health and repress those which are more negative.
What are probiotics and what do they do?
Probiotics are live bacteria which you can eat to fortify health. They are very popular today and are most commonly used in dairy foods and drinks, as well as tablets and capsules. The most frequently used probiotics are called lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. Both lactobacilli and bifidobacteria are generally safe and help stimulate the immune system and may inhibit pathogens. Most probiotics used today have been isolated from a human. However, they are not from your intestine and adaptation may be difficult. Therefore, they generally will disappear a few days after you stop taking them.
What are Human-Natural Oligosaccharides (HNOs) and what do they do?
The mucus layer in our intestines and human milk contain fibers which are a targeted food for our own bacteria. In the sciences, we refer to these fibers as mucus glycans or Human Milk Oligosaccharides (HMOs). Glycom produces nutrients identical in structure and calls them Human-Natural Oligosaccharides (HNOs). HNOs are not bacteria but instead a type of prebiotic fiber that selectively feeds certain beneficial bacteria already present in our intestines. Hence, they improve the composition and function of our unique intestinal microbiome to support digestive health. For example, breastfed infants have a positive intestinal microbiome composition, fewer infections and less allergy issues (e.g. asthma, eczema) due to receiving Human Milk Oligosaccharides from their mother’s milk. Further, the beneficial bacteria use HMOs/HNOs to produce nutrients essential for our intestinal barrier. They are already added to some infant formulas and are also now available for older children and adults.
Do both probiotics and HNOs/prebiotics improve human health?
Both probiotics and prebiotic fibers, including HNOs, can potentially be used in many ways to improve human health with many clinical studies ongoing. Results thus far indicate that probiotics and prebiotic fibers provide patients and healthcare practitioners with new, safe and effective ways of managing symptoms and keeping healthy. HNOs are now at the forefront of this innovation.
It is important to note that probiotics and prebiotic fibers do vary in their efficacy depending on the application. Your healthcare practitioner will be able to help guide you with the best choice for you based on your particular needs.
We thank Professor Gibson for explaining this.
Having heard about the differences, you might be interested to learn that Holigos™ is a new family of non-prescription products based on Human-Natural Oligosaccharides. The first two products are now available: Holigos™ IBS, a medical food for the dietary management of IBS, and Holigos™ Digestive Health, a dietary supplement for proactive maintenance of gut health and people with occasional digestives issues.*
The Holigos™ products power a natural pathway to digestive health leading to improved dietary management of your IBS (Holigos™ IBS) and help with occasional digestive issues* (Holigos™ Digestive Health).