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FOS (Fructo-oligosaccharides)

What Is It?

Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) are nondigestible dietary fibers that help to keep the stomach and bowels healthy. They do this by nourishing and promoting the naturally present, “friendly” bacteria (Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli in particular) capable of warding off infection in the digestive system. Because of these properties FOS is considered a “prebiotic.” Quite popular in Japan, such prebiotics have just started to become available in the United States.

Products known as “Probiotics” are also gaining in popularity. These are actually live microbial foods found in various foods; the acidophilus in yogurt is a commonly recognized probiotic. Both prebiotics and probiotics can modify the composition of intestinal bacteria in beneficial ways.

FOS may benefit people who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, a mysterious and often painful digestive disorder that can cause alternating bouts of diarrhea and constipation. The exact cause of this condition remains to be determined, but bacterial infection is one possibility. FOS’s prebiotic action may help by restoring order in the bowel and controlling symptoms. In addition, preliminary research indicates that both prebiotics and probiotics may help protect the digestive tract from cancerous growths. More research is needed, however.

Natural food sources of FOS include onions, garlic, and asparagus. FOS capsules, however, provide high concentrations of a purified form of this dietary fiber.

General Interaction

There are no known drug or nutrient interactions associated with FOS.

Cautions

FOS supplements appear to be quite safe, although some users experience unpleasant stomach cramps, gas, or bloating when they first start taking them.

Ailments

Flatulence – 2,000 mg twice a day

Irritable Bowel Syndrome – 2,000 mg a day with meals

Yeast Infection (vaginal) – 2,000 mg twice a day

For product recommendations and orders click here for the Natural Apothecary or call 773-296-6700, ext. 2001.

Leave a Comment


  1. Karen Stroup says:

    Since oligosaccharides are not digested, can they cause problems for kids with suspected “leaky gut syndrome” who are on a gluten-free, casein-free diet?

  2. Dr E says:

    These are okay for kids who are sensitive to dairy and gluten even with a diagnosis of leaky gut
    Dr E

  3. Beaumont Muni says:

    Read a real good detailed study here from the journal of nutrition. It’s fairly technical, but interesting. There is no strong support for this conclusion. It is true that it doesn’t get digested through the small intestine but it also may cause some effects in the large intestine since in helps both the good and bad bacteria in the large intestine. The conclusion of the study is thus: “We conclude that the adverse effects of FOS on the resistance to intestinal infections in our animal studies and the present human intervention study do not support the concept that stimulating the endogenous microflora and intestinal organic acid production by rapid fermentation of nondigestible carbohydrates is beneficial for the intestinal barrier in humans.”

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