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Supplementation With Nutrients from Milk May Help Improve Bowel Function

Human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) are a mix of glycans that occur naturally in high concentration in human breast milk. They are largely indigestible in the upper gastrointestinal tract, so the majority of ingested HMOs reach the large intestine undigested. According to a new study, supplementation with HMOs may help improve bowel function.

Participants in the study included 245 adults with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). They consumed 5 grams of HMOs or a placebo daily for 12 weeks. The researchers evaluated bowel habits, IBS symptoms and quality of life at baseline, week 4, week 8, and week 12.

Participants in the HMO group saw a decrease in bowel movements with abnormal stool consistency from 91% to 57%. Overall IBS Symptom Severity Scores in the HMO group decreased by 54%, from 323 at baseline to 144 at the end of the study. These symptoms included constipation, diarrhea, and alternating/mixed pattern bowel movements. In addition, quality of life scores improved from 50.4 at baseline to 74.6 at the end of the study period.

The study was conducted by researchers from the University of North Carolina. It was published online ahead of print on April 20, 2021 in the journal Clinical and Translational Gastroenterology.

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