Fructooligosaccharides, or FOS for short, have received a lot of attention from nutritionists, biologists and doctors in recent years - and rightly so.
FOS are produced by various plants and act as so-called prebiotics in our body. While some people are well aware of the term probiotics, prebiotics such as FOS are even less known to the general public. Prebiotics can promote the growth of beneficial intestinal bacteria, which has given them increased attention in recent years.
In this article we would like to explain in more detail why this finding is of outstanding importance for the human organism, what exactly FOS are and to what extent they are good for us.
What are prebiotics?
Prebiotics are non-digestible food components that selectively stimulate the growth and activity of certain bacteria in the colon, supporting intestinal health.
In contrast to probiotics, which contain living microorganisms and are utilized directly in the first part of the intestine in order to develop their effect, the indigestible prebiotics have to travel a little further in the intestine so that they can develop their benefits.
In order to explain this a little more clearly, we would now like to compare the prebiotics with the probiotics.
How do prebiotics and probiotics differ?
Probiotics and prebiotics are both substances that can be used to improve gut health, but they have different functions.
Probiotics are live microorganisms that can help improve the balance of intestinal flora by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria and inhibiting the growth of pathogenic bacteria. Such probiotics can be taken through various foods such as yogurt, kefir, fermented vegetables or in capsule and tablet form. Some of the most common probiotic bacterial strains are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
Prebiotics, on the other hand, are non-digestible food components such as FOS, inulin or galactooligosaccharides (GOS) that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestine - in a sense, they serve as food for the good bacteria in the intestine. Prebiotics are not absorbed directly into the intestine and digested in the traditional way, but rather serve as a food source for the beneficial bacteria in the large intestine. Prebiotics can be found in various foods such as chicory, artichokes, onions, garlic and bananas.
Unlike probiotics, which contain live bacteria, prebiotics are not live, but rather chemical compounds that help the intestinal flora develop and maintain naturally. Incidentally, prebiotics can also be taken in combination with probiotics to enhance their effect.
How exactly can our body utilize prebiotics if they cannot be digested?
Prebiotics such as FOS are not digested in the small intestine as usual, but first enter the large intestine unchanged. In the large intestine they then serve as a food source for certain types of beneficial bacteria, particularly bifidobacteria and lactobacilli. These good bacteria in the gut can ferment the FOS, meaning they use it as an energy source, producing short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) such as butyric acid, propionic acid and acetic acid. These SCFAs are important energy suppliers for intestinal cells and help strengthen the intestinal barrier by regulating the production of mucus and pH in the intestine. They may also have anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties that help maintain gut health (If you want to learn more about the connection between our immune system and the gut, we recommend this article )
Prebiotics can therefore sustainably improve digestion. This means they can also increase intestinal motility and improve stool consistency. Likewise, probiotics can help improve the absorption of nutrients and boost immunity by promoting the production of anti-inflammatory substances.
There are also studies indicating that prebiotics may be helpful in preventing diseases such as diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer. Some research suggests that prebiotics may reduce the risk of colon cancer and inflammatory bowel disease.
In addition, prebiotics such as FOS can inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria. This can help improve the balance of intestinal flora and prevent or reduce the development of intestinal diseases.
And now we would like to take a closer look at fructooligosaccharides as a prebiotic.
FOS are among the most well-studied prebiotics. They are called prebiotics because they selectively promote the growth and activity of beneficial gut bacteria. Specifically, they have been shown to be effective in supporting the growth of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli. These two strains of bacteria are critical to gut health and play an important role in digestion and absorption of nutrients, regulating the immune system, and fighting pathogenic bacteria.
The FOS are also not digestible as prebiotics because they cannot be broken down by human enzymes. They reach the colon unchanged and are later fermented by certain types of bacteria, which has positive effects on intestinal health.
And is this scientifically proven?
Studies show the effectiveness of prebiotics
A variety of studies have shown that FOS have a positive effect on intestinal health. For example, a study in healthy volunteers showed that taking FOS increased the number of beneficial bifidobacteria in the gut while reducing the number of pathogenic bacteria.
Another study found that supplementation with FOS led to an improvement in symptoms in patients with inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis.
FOS also have the potential to lower blood cholesterol levels. A meta-analysis of 13 randomized controlled trials found that FOS supplementation significantly reduced total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
In addition, FOS have shown positive effects on bone health. A study in older women found that FOS supplementation resulted in an increase in bone mineral density for 12 weeks.
By the way, FOS is not just good for us humans - the use of FOS as prebiotics also has potential in animal husbandry, as they promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestines of farm animals and can thus improve the health and well-being of the animals.
Overall, the research shows that FOS plays an important role in supporting gut health by nourishing the good gut bacteria.
Our intestinal flora is unique
It is important to note that each person has a unique gut flora and that the effects of prebiotics such as FOS may vary from person to person. Consuming too large amounts of FOS can lead to digestive problems such as flatulence and diarrhea, especially if they are introduced abruptly into the diet - which is why it is important to choose a reputable and high-quality supplier when choosing a FOS supplement.
We at BE THE CHANGE have therefore designed our Microbiome Porridge and put it together so that the FOS it contains is gently absorbed into the diet, with an optimally tailored dosage.
Ourintestinal microbiome porridge was designed based on the health benefits of FOS, among other things. The Microbiome porridge is an easily digestible oat meal with organic Swiss oat flakes and organic Swiss milk protein. The porridge contains no sugar or artificial additives at all. The oat flakes it contains are rich in beta-glucans, which help maintain normal blood cholesterol levels. A positive effect can be seen from a daily intake of 3g of oat beta glucans. The formula's deep glycemic response is gentle on the pancreas.
The fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) contained in the porridge and a little banana powder ensure a natural and mild sweetness. Our porridge not only provides you with a healthy and filling meal, but also nourishes your good intestinal bacteria. Our microbiome porridge can help you build up your intestinal flora and keep it fit.
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