Have you ever heard of fructooligosaccharides? Not? And you can’t even imagine what it is? Then everything that is written below is for you.
Prebiotics: why are we needed
In recent years, yoghurts 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. Probiotics are “good bacteria,” which in the human body “live” in the intestines and are responsible for maintaining healthy microflora. But with the development of science, manufacturers of wholesome food, in addition to 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 as FOS.
What is FOS
Fructooligosaccharides are sugars (fructose and glucose), linked together in chains (short and medium). FOS short chains are unbranched structures of 9 or fewer fructose molecules. Easily soluble in water (better than sucrose), do not crystallize.
It may darken during cooking. Since FOS can provide about 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, more than 500 traditional Japanese dishes contain a high concentration of oligofructose. Some scholars suggest that this particular menu feature provides a long life span 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 breaking down FOS. Therefore, they, like fiber, intact pass through the upper part of the digestive tract. Digestion of oligofructose begins only in the colon, where bacteria and necessary enzymes begin to break down FOS and use them as food for themselves. Thus, ofructooligosaccharides serve as a “fertilizer” for some strains of beneficial bacteria that live in the intestines.
The influence of beneficial intestinal microflora extends not only within the colon. The efficiency 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 good
Fructooligosaccharides are the subject of rigorous research for many scientists around the world. Particular interest in this substance is caused by the fact that there is still no unequivocal opinion on the role of these oligosaccharides for humans. Scientists argue what is more from FOS - benefit or harm.
With the fact that FOS have a beneficial effect on the vital activity of bifidobacteria, contribute to the reproduction of these beneficial microorganisms in the human intestine, no one argues. This fact is scientifically proven. Nevertheless, (and this is also confirmed by scientific experiments), fructooligosaccharides by the same principle can serve as food for other, less useful 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.
The consumption of food rich in fructooligosaccharides, or the 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 intestinal irritation;
- protects against cancer;
- removes toxins, 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 do 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 in laboratory rats proved the ability of oligosaccharides to improve the condition of the gastrointestinal tract. Another scientific observation, also with the participation of rats, found that against the background of a diet rich in fructooligosaccharides, the growth of cancer tumors slows down.
Oligofructose in its natural form is found in some products. Rich in asparagus, garlic, Jerusalem artichoke, chicory root, onions (red, shallots, leeks), cereals, tomatoes, ripe bananas, honey. It can also be obtained from sugarcane and algae. However, the concentration of FOS in vegetables can change with prolonged storage. The saturation of products with oligosaccharides depends on the time of harvest. Meanwhile, under any circumstances, the concentration of fructooligosaccharides in products does not exceed 1.5% by weight. This means that for the therapeutic effect, only food containing oligofructose is not enough.
As a filler or in the role of 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 are 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 a 1 gram serving, gradually increasing the daily dose to 4 grams.
FOS is still one of the so-called new food components, and dosage studies are still ongoing. To date, 15 g per day is considered an acceptable amount of FOS for adults. Children are advised to consume approximately 4.2 g of fructooligosaccharides per day. According to some sources, 5-10 g is considered an adequate dose of oligofructose for daily consumption.
The use of FOS for therapeutic purposes is somewhat different in dosage from the prophylactic consumption of carbohydrate. With diabetes or hypertension, it is worth taking from half to 1 teaspoon of the substance in powder daily. About 2 times more oligofructose should be consumed by people with an ulcer (1-2 teaspoons per day). The daily norm of the substance for people with high cholesterol ranges from 4-15 g. A more accurate dosage is determined individually, based on the cholesterol in the blood. Most FOS (within 20 g) should be taken daily by people with malignant tumors in the tissues of the colon.
The abuse of oligofructose can cause tooth decay. In addition, as practice shows, the intake of fructooligosaccharides with sugar neutralizes all the beneficial properties of FOS.
Side effects of fructooligosaccharides
Fructooligosaccharide can cause unpleasant side effects in only 2 cases:
- with an overdose;
- with individual intolerance to the active substance or lactose.
Whatever the cause of the consequences, they usually manifest themselves with the following symptoms:
- cramping in the abdomen;
- irritable bowel syndrome.
Overdose symptoms usually appear after consuming oligofructose in portions of 20 g or more or in the presence of candidiasis.
Disadvantage: how to recognize
With insufficient intake of carbohydrates, as a rule, a number of common symptoms are observed. This is weakness, loss of strength, decreased concentration, impaired brain function. This is because carbohydrates for humans are the main sources of energy necessary for physical and mental activity.
But the lack of fructooligosaccharides has some special features. Among them:
- violation of the hormonal background of the body;
- fragility of bone tissue (caused by leaching of calcium);
- frequent diarrhea (especially with antibiotics);
- a malfunction in the intestines;
- weakened immunity.
The therapeutic effect of oligofructose
Fructooligosaccharides are used as additional components for the treatment of a wide range of diseases. FOS is believed to be effective in treating:
- dysbiosis and digestive disorders;
- low acidity of the stomach;
- chronic constipation and other intestinal dysfunctions;
- fungal diseases;
- high cholesterol;
- poor concentration;
- vertebral hernia;
- rheumatoid arthritis.
Oligofructose preparations are used for the prevention of:
- osteoporosis and childhood rickets;
- gallstone disease;
- 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 called fructooligosaccharide. During cooking, they can replace almost half the norm of regular sugar. In baking, oligofructose plays the role of not only a useful sweetener, but also protects the product from quick drying. In addition, the unique properties of FOS allow beneficial effects not only on the digestive system, but also improve the functioning of the whole organism.