Designed2Win From Birth


The human body is truly amazing and clever – which is why I’ve been so fascinated with it for so long, and what’s led to our Designed2Win approach to health. This is true in every aspect of life, even from the very beginning. There is much to learn and apply to health right from the start of life as a newborn.

Recent research on mothers’ milk offers the perfect opportunity to view yet another aspect of health in the Designed2Win way, as the ingredients must fully sustain a newborn, allowing it to grow physically, mentally, and emotionally, all the while responding healthfully to its environment in keeping it safe from infection and other internal threats.

A consortium of top US research teams from the University of California, Davis, elected to review old and new findings of human breast milk to learn the total mix and amount of sugars, proteins, and fats that are generally present, hoping to add to our understanding of the functioning of each. [1]

As expected, the most abundant of the sugars was lactose (plus traces of sucrose and maltose). Babies have the built-in ability to break down lactose to provide their primary source of energy. However, high tech analysis of the total of milk sugars reveals a family of 200 or more polymeric forms, known as oligosaccharides, which babies are not able to break down for energy. [2]

So what is their purpose?

It seems that instead of energy, many of the oligosaccharides were found to serve either as signaling devices to awaken and mature the nervous system, or to protect newborns from infection by enhancing the growth of friendly bacterial forms (particularly the Bifidobacterium bifidum, Bifidobacterium longum subspecies infantis, or Saccharomyces boulardii [SBC]).

Some oligosaccharides target potential pathogens, altering their cell membranes so as to deny them access to the intestinal wall. Going further, the makeup of oligosaccharides in breast milk has the capacity to change minute by minute, in response to specific exposures to the mother of foreign microbes. Her body assumes that the newborn’s body is facing the same threat, and thereby secretes the correct oligosaccharide for attaching to the specific, invading microbe, denying it access to the intestinal cell wall where the potential for infection is greatest.

To learn how all of this worked the researchers placed much focus on what was being excreted, a technique referred to as “diaper diagnostics”. [3] Hence, some oligosaccharides were seen to selectively attach to proteins within the cell membranes of the friendly bacteria, storing nutrition that only the friendly organisms could use. Another function of oligosaccharides was seen as they selectively attached to iron-binding, lactoferrin, which is abundantly found in colostrum (the first flow of mother’s milk). [4]

Lactoferrin, the researchers found, does more than bind iron, thereby making it unavailable to infectious microbes. Oligosaccharides add to this protective function so that the pathogen cannot use the iron even if it attempts to consume and dismantle the lactoferrin.

As always, we like to see how these health findings can be applied to everyday health. So what does this mean for your own health?

The 200 or so oligosaccharides – of which the popular FOS (fructo-oligosaccharide) from raw honey, and inulin from vegetables, are good examples – do serve as food for beneficial gut microbes while resisting pathogens. From this function is derived the name “probiotic”. Foods that contain probiotic activity other than mothers’ milk include Jerusalem artichokes, onions, leeks, garlic, raw honey, legumes and asparagus. The highest levels will come from garlic and raw honey. Adding these supportive foods to your diet will be of additional value to your health for this reason. This is why we use honey in our special butter recipe, because FOS can only be used by friendly bacteria.

From this discussion you can more easily see why we often recommend friendly bacteria, ColostOferrin, garlic oil, and the oligosaccharide-rich nutrient, inulin.

Here again is an example of the winning design going to work well before birth, and continuing to serve us for a lifetime. Our job is simply to support that design.


[1] Kemsley, Jyllian (C&EN West Coast News Bureau), Deconstructing Breast Milk, C&EN 91(27): 28-29, July 8, 2013.

[2] Lebrilla, Carlito B., UC Davis Chemistry professor

[3] Underwood, Mark A., Anal Bioanal Chem, DOI: 10.1007/s00216-013-6817-1, 2013

[4] Kegrano, Juan F., and Barile, Daniela, “ (UC Davis), PLoS One 2011, DOI: 10,1371/journal.pone.0018895; Glycobiology 2013, DOI: 10:1093/glycob/cwt007.

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