Does Fructooligosaccarides (FOS) Feed Bad Bacteria?
How does FOS Work?
Before we answer that, let’s first understand what FOS is, and how it works. As mentioned in our previous articles, FOS are naturally occurring prebiotic’s found in foods such as yacon, tomatoes, bananas, onions and artichoke hearts. FOS are fermented in the colon. Consuming FOS from natural sources results in fermentation taking place throughout the colon, maximising gut-health benefits. This fermentation process feeds beneficial bacteria colonies (including probiotic bacteria) and helps to increase the number of desirable bacteria in our digestive systems that are associated with better health and reduced disease risk. Luckily FOS is a natural plant product that we as humans have been widely exposed to, thus limiting the allergic reactions and intolerance when added to foods.
Does FOS Feed Back Bacteria?
FOS work by selectively promoting the growth of the beneficial bacteria in the colon. This ‘good’ bacterium discourages the growth of harmful bacteria such as C. difficile and E. coli. FOS and Inulin fermented in the colon produce Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA) and these enhance water, sodium, and electrolyte absorption from the gut and may help with diarrhea.
What exactly is a prebiotic you ask? A prebiotic is a non-digestible food ingredient that helps restore and maintain friendly bacteria. These friendly bacteria often become damaged due to disease and the intake of medication.
Balance is the Key
Researchers and investigations have found that although prebiotic feed both good and bad bacteria, prebiotics are helpful in increasing the helpful bacteria already in the gut that reduce disease risk and improve general well being. It is important to note that prebiotic bacteria are not as fragile as probiotic bacteria because it they are not affected by heat, stomach acid, or time. What’s more, the fermentation process differs depending on the individual.
Scientific literature indicates that increasing prebiotic intake supports immunity, digestive health, bone density, regularity, weight management, and brain health.
So, although you would have found that there has been caution and negativity around prebiotic’’s because FOS feeds pathogens, if you delve into these, you will find that there is not much scientific research revealed backing these claims.
So where does that leave us? We all agree that a healthy gut is one which consists of a high ratio of “friendly bacteria” over pathogenic bacteria. Thus, in a healthy gut we have the “friendly bacteria” outweighing the “bad bacteria” (pathogens). It would be fair to surmise that in order to maintain a healthy gut; we would require a good balance – a mantra to all aspects of life.
We can safely surmise that for every negative study, there are many more positive ones. References below evidently show how clever little friendly microbes can support our health in many areas from gut health to immunity to mental health to cholesterol
It’s important to note that any patients who are on antibiotics or who are on tube feeding for extended time periods may benefit from FOS/Inulin. Others who may benefit are those with diarrhea, Crohn’s disease, short-bowel syndrome, malabsorption, radiation enteritis, chronic pancreatitis, delayed gastric emptying, HIV/AIDS, and cystic fibrosis.
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