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2’-fucosyllactose (2’-FL), is a human milk oligosaccharide (HMO), a type of prebiotic found in breast milk. 2′-FL has a unique decoy binding mechanism and is associated with a healthy influence on the gut microbiome when consumed. Like other prebiotics, 2′-FL delays metabolization until it reaches the lower gastrointestinal (GI) tract, where it can “feed” beneficial microbes in the gut microbiome. The best part? 2′-FL is a selective food source, and only certain gut bacteria – “good” bacteria – can utilize it for energy. One of these bacterial species is Bifidobacteria.
One of 2′-FL’s unique capabilities, in addition to providing nourishment for good bacteria in the gut microbiome, is its decoy binding mechanism. 2′-FL’s structure closely resembles that of surface sugars on intestinal cells of the GI tract. External pathogens may enter the GI tract, bind to these surface sugars, and begin an infection, triggering inflammation of the gut, subsequent, undesirable symptoms, and potential long-term compositional changes in the microbiome. However, because of 2′-FL’s close resemblance to these surface sugars, 2′-FL serves as a “decoy,” binding external pathogens to prevent attachment to intestinal cells and the onset of infection.
Infants are born with a certain amount of bacteria in the gut microbiome, so HMOs like 2′-FL are important dietary contributors through breastfeeding. 2′-FL supports a growing microbiome by promoting the thriving populations of healthy gut microbes like Bifidobacteria. 2′-FL can also support a healthy gut microbiome for adults in times of GI stress and for Bifidobacteria-deficient individuals looking for increasing microbiome diversity.