Dietary oligosaccharides could boost infant nutrition and immunity

By Nathan Gray

- Last updated on GMT

Consumption of oligosaccharides from food sources, rather than solely from breast milk, could help to boost childhood nutrition and immunity, reducing the risk of food allergy and dermatitis, says a new review.

The research review, published in the European Journal of Pharmacology​, reports that results from previous studies – in either animal models or from clinical trials – show that dietary intervention with short chain non-digestible carbohydrate polymers from food early in life could lead to the prevention of the development of food allergy, allergic asthma or atopic dermatitis.

“It is thought that the immune modulating effect of these oligosaccharides are mediated either via modification of the intestinal microflora or in a microbiota-independent manner by direct interaction on cells of the immune system,”​ said the researchers, led by Anneke Rijnierse from the University of Utrecht, and Danone Research - Centre for Specialised Nutrition, Wageningen, both in The Netherlands.

“Due to their complexity, oligosaccharides with structures identical to human milk oligosaccharides are not available as dietary ingredients,”​ said the researchers

“Searching for alternatives similar to the effects of human milk oligosaccharides, a mixture of neutral short chain galacto-oligosaccharides and long chain fructo-oligosaccharides has been identified as effective during infancy,”​ they added.

Infant nutrition

Breast feeding is considered as the best nutrition for growth and development of an infant, because human milk consists of a unique combination of nutritional components each with different characteristics.

Oligosaccharides –non-digestible carbohydrates – as one of these components, are generally accepted to have a beneficial effect by selectively stimulating the growth and activity of certain bacterial species.

“Recently more evidence is rising for direct effects of oligosaccharides on the immune system. Oligosaccharides often used as dietary supplements for their beneficial effects on the host and its immune system, are derived from nutritional sources,”​ said the authors.

The researchers said that the review aimed to summarize the beneficial properties of food-borne oligosaccharides during early in life.

Rijnierse and her concluded that there is much evidence to show that the beneficial, pharmaceutical like, properties of oligosaccharides are “very promising,”​ and said that such dietary interventions warrant further study.

They noted that such interventions could lead to the prevention of the development of food allergy, allergic asthma, atopic dermatitis, rhinitis and asthma, by modulation of the gut microflora and immune system.

Source: European Journal of Pharmacology
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2011.07.009
“Food-derived oligosaccharides exhibit pharmaceutical properties”
Authors: A. Rijnierse, P.V. Jeurink, J. Garssen, L. M.J. Knippels

Related news

Show more

Related products

Omegavie® DHA algae Qualitysilver®5

Omegavie® DHA algae Qualitysilver®5

POLARIS | 24-Nov-2017 | Data Sheet

Say  « Yes »   to Omegavie® DHA algae Qualitysilver®5 and enjoy the « green oil » of the future!Omegavie® DHA algae is a highly stable, non-GMO algal-based...

Highly bioavailable and stable source of iron

Highly bioavailable and stable source of iron

Lipofoods, a Lubrizol Company | 22-Nov-2017 | Infographic

LIPOFER™ is a water-dispersible micronized source of iron that has been microencapsulated to boost iron absorption and reduce unwanted organoleptic characteristics....

Mother’s milk selects Bifidobacteria in the infant gut

Mother’s milk selects Bifidobacteria in the infant gut

Morinaga Milk Industry Co., Ltd. | 21-Nov-2017 | Technical / White Paper

Health promoting traits of Bifidobacteria are strain-specific, however, whether the residential origin of each species would also contribute to the differences...

SMART FIBRES: time to exploit the health benefits

SMART FIBRES: time to exploit the health benefits

Roquette: Improving well-being by offering the best of nature | 01-Sep-2017 | Data Sheet

Consumers want wellbeing – not least a digestive comfort!Half of US consumers facing digestive issues consume high-fibre foods as a medicine while in 2017,...

Related suppliers

Follow us

Featured Events

View more


View more