Prebiotics are a source of nutrition for the good bacteria in our gut, which benefits the functioning of the gut and can improve the immune system. Fructooligosaccharides are a source of prebiotics with numerous health benefits. In this article you will discover which!
The difference between probiotics and prebiotics briefly: Probiotics is another name for the good living bacteria, while prebiotics are the food for our gut bacteria.
What do prebiotics do?
Prebiotics follow our digestive system untouched until they meet our gut bacteria. They in turn make good use of this, because the prebiotics are a source of nutrition for the good bacteria in our gut. They stimulate the growth and activity of these bacteria, so there are more good bacteria and they can do their job better.
What contains prebiotics?
Prebiotics can be found in various foods, for example in grain products, vegetables, fruit, nuts and legumes. The main sources of prebiotics are:
• Fructooligosaccharides (also called fructans or FOS)
• Galacto-oligosaccharides (also called galactans or GOS)
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the first. Fructooligosaccharides are considered a functional food ingredient as it influences physiological and biochemical processes in humans. This results in better health and a reduction in the risk of many diseases.
Fructooligosaccharides are complex and slow carbohydrates that occur naturally in plants such as onion, chicory, garlic, leek, asparagus, banana, artichoke, but also in wheat products. They are composed of linear chains of fructose units, linked by beta (2-1) bonds. The number of fructose units ranges from 2 to 60 and often ends in a glucose unit. Dietary FOS are not hydrolyzed by glycosidases in the small intestine and reach the cecum structurally unchanged. There they are metabolized by the gut microflora to form short chain carboxylic acids, L-lactate, CO(2), hydrogen and other metabolites.
FOS have a number of interesting properties, including low sweetness intensity; they are also calorie-free, non-cariogenic and considered soluble dietary fiber. In addition, FOS have important beneficial physiological effects such as low carcinogenicity, a prebiotic effect, improved mineral absorption (and thus reduced risk of osteoporosis) and reduced levels of serum cholesterol, triacylglycerols and phospholipids. FOS boosts the body’s immune system and reduces pathogens in the gut.
Currently, FOS is increasingly included in food products and infant formulas, as their prebiotic effect stimulates the growth of non-pathogenic gut microflora. Consumption of FOS increases the faecal bolus and the frequency of deposits. A dose of 4-15 grams per day given to healthy subjects reduces constipation, which is considered one of the growing problems of modern society and of newborns during the first months of life.