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.
There are no known drug or nutrient interactions associated with FOS.
FOS supplements appear to be quite safe, although some users experience unpleasant stomach cramps, gas, or bloating when they first start taking them.
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.
David Edelberg, MD