Have you ever heard of fructooligosaccharides? No? And you can’t even imagine what it is? Then everything that is written below is for you.
Prebiotics: why do we need
In recent years, yogurt and kefir have become very popular products among buyers. And not least because of the recognition by the medical community of the benefits of the probiotics found in these products. Probitics are “good bacteria” that “live” in the intestines in the human body and are responsible for maintaining healthy microflora. But with the development of science, the producers of useful food, besides probiotics, began to enrich kefir and yogurt with prebiotics, components that support the vitality of beneficial bacteria.
Prebiotics tend to serve as food for probiotics. And one of these prebiotics is oligofructose. Another name for the substance is fructooligosaccharides, or abbreviated to – FOS.
What is FOS
Fructooligosaccharides are sugars (fructose and glucose), linked together in chains (short and medium). FOS short chains are unbranched 9 constructs or fewer fructose molecules. Easily soluble in water (better than sucrose), do not crystallize.
It may darken during cooking. Since FOS can provide approximately 30-50 percent sugar sweetness, they can be used as a sweetener. It is part of dietary supplements, baby food, food for cats and dogs. But still, the main function of fructooligosaccharides is prebiotic.
Interestingly, in more than 500 traditional Japanese dishes contains a high concentration of oligofructose. Some scientists suggest that this particular menu provides a long life expectancy for the local population and low cancer mortality.
FOS in the body
While simple carbohydrates are quickly digested by the human body, fructooligosaccharides are not so simple. In human bodies, there is no enzyme capable of cleaving FOS. Therefore, they, like fiber, intact pass through the upper part of the digestive tract. The digestion of oligofructose begins only in the colon, where bacteria and the necessary enzymes begin to break down FOS and use them as food for themselves. Thus, ofo-fructooligosaccharides serve as “fertilizer” for some strains of beneficial bacteria living in the intestine.
The effect of the beneficial intestinal microflora extends not only within the colon. The health of the immune system, the proper functioning of the digestive organs, the health of the epithelium, and the control of bad bacteria in the body depend on these microorganisms.
But in addition to maintaining beneficial microflora, fructooligosaccharides contribute to the absorption of calcium. This FOS ability is definitely important for women after menopause, as they are at risk for osteoporosis and increased bone fragility.
Regular consumption of oligosaccharides is important for maintaining mineral balance.
Harm or benefit
Fructooligosaccharides are subject to rigorous research for many scientists around the world. Of particular interest to this substance is caused by the fact that there is still no unequivocal opinion about the role of these oligosaccharides for humans. Scientists argue that more of FOS – good or harm.
With the fact that FOS has a beneficial effect on the vital activity of bifidobacteria, they contribute to the reproduction of these beneficial microorganisms in the human intestine, no one argues. This fact has been proven scientifically. But nevertheless (and this is also confirmed by scientific experiments), fructooligosaccharides, by the same principle, can serve as food for other, less beneficial bacteria.
So, some studies have shown that inulin promotes the growth of Klebsiella, a bacterium that causes problems with intestinal permeability. And this is not the only type of bacteria that supplies FOS to food. It is believed that yeast also uses oligofructose as a fuel, which leads to the pathological spread of the fungus in the body.
Functions in the body
Eating foods rich in fructooligosaccharides, or a pharmacological version of FOS, can bring many benefits to the body.
Benefits of oligofructose:
- stimulates the growth of beneficial bacteria;
- prevents dysbiosis;
- enriches the diet with fiber;
- improves digestion;
- eliminates constipation and irritation of the intestines;
- protects against cancer;
- removes slags, toxins, heavy metals, radionuclides from the body;
- strengthens the immune system;
- serves as a low-calorie supplement to food;
- improves the absorption of magnesium and calcium;
- normalizes hormonal balance.
What the research results say
The results of the 15-day experiment showed that oligofructose increases the number of bifidobacteria and reduces the number of pathogenic microorganisms. A study on laboratory rats proved the ability of oligosaccharides to improve the state of the gastrointestinal tract. Another scientific observation, also with the participation of rats, found that against the background of a diet rich in fructo-oligosaccharides, the growth of cancerous tumors slows down.
Oligofructose in its natural form is found in some products. Asparagus, garlic, Jerusalem artichoke, chicory root, onions (red, shallots, leeks), cereals, tomatoes, ripe bananas, honey. It can also be obtained from sugar cane and algae. However, the concentration of FOS in vegetables may vary with prolonged storage. The saturation of the products with oligosaccharides depends on the time of harvest. Meanwhile, under any circumstances, the concentration of fructooligosaccharides in the products does not exceed 1,5% by weight. This means that for a therapeutic effect only food containing oligofructose is not enough.
As a filler or as additional fiber, fructooligosaccharides are found in baby food, various types of confectionery, in hard candies, ice cream, yoghurts, jams, marmalade, dry soups and instant breakfasts.
Food is only one of the possible sources of oligosaccharides. In addition, the substance can also be obtained from dietary supplements. In pharmacology, FOS is presented in the form of powders and capsules. For pharmacological purposes, fructooligosaccharides are extracted from chicory root or produced from sucrose. It is recommended to start taking the substance from the 1-gram portion, gradually increasing the daily dose to 4 grams.
Features of consumption
FOS still belongs to the so-called new food components and research on dosages is still ongoing. Today, the acceptable amount of consumption of FOS for adults is 15 g per day. Children are advised to consume approximately 4,2 of fructo-oligosaccharides per day. According to some sources, an adequate dose of oligofructose for daily consumption is considered 5-10.
The use of FOS for therapeutic purposes is somewhat different in dosage from prophylactic carbohydrate intake. With diabetes or hypertension, half a teaspoonful of the substance in powder can be taken daily to 1. Approximately 2 times more oligofructose must be consumed by people with an ulcer (1-2 teaspoons per day). The daily amount of the substance for people with high cholesterol varies in the range of 4-15 g. A more accurate dosage is determined individually, based on the cholesterol in the blood. Most of the FOS (within 20 g) should be taken daily by people with malignant tumors in the tissues of the colon.
Abuse of oligofructose can cause caries. In addition, as practice shows, taking fructooligosaccharides with sugar neutralizes all the beneficial properties of FOS.
Fructooligosaccharide can cause unpleasant side effects exclusively in 2 cases:
- in case of overdose;
- with individual intolerance to the active substance or lactose.
Whatever the cause of the consequences, they usually manifest themselves with such symptoms:
- abdominal cramps;
- irritable bowel syndrome.
Symptoms of overdose, as a rule, appear after consumption of oligofructose in portions of 20 g and more or in the presence of candidiasis.
Disadvantage: how to recognize
With insufficient intake of carbohydrates, as a rule, there are a number of common symptoms. This is weakness, fatigue, decrease in concentration, deterioration of brain function. This is due to the fact that carbohydrates for humans are the main sources of energy necessary for physical and mental activity.
But the lack of fructo-oligosaccharides has some special features. Among them:
- violation of the hormonal background of the body;
- bone fragility (caused by leaching of calcium);
- frequent diarrhea (especially when taking antibiotics);
- bowel failure;
- weakened immunity.
Therapeutic effect of oligofructose
Fructooligosaccharides are used as additional components for the treatment of a wide range of diseases. It is believed that FOS is effective in the treatment of:
- dysbacteriosis and digestive disorders;
- low acidity of the stomach;
- chronic constipation and other bowel dysfunctions;
- fungal diseases;
- high cholesterol;
- poor concentration;
- vertebral hernia;
- rheumatoid arthritis.
Oligofructose preparations are used for the prevention of:
- osteoporosis and childhood rickets;
- diabetes mellitus;
- oncological formations in the digestive system;
Sugar abuse is a sure way to many diseases. Any doctor or nutritionist will tell you about this. But in nature there is a special sugar-like substance, which is called fructooligosaccharide. During cooking, they can replace almost half the norm of regular sugar. In baking oligofructose plays a role not only useful sweetener, but also saves the product from quick drying. In addition, the unique properties of FOS allow a beneficial effect not only on the digestive system, but also to improve the work of the whole organism.