What Are the Health Benefits of FOS?
Fructooligosaccharides, known as FOS, form a class of carbohydrates you may want to consider adding to your diet. They are beneficial to the gastrointestinal tract and the immune system and, according to a 2009 study in the "Journal of Medicinal Food," may even reverse bone loss.
FOS has a unique structure that is not processed in the gastrointestinal tract like other carbohydrates. Most carbohydrates begin enzymatic breakdown in the mouth, and this breakdown continues until the carbohydrates reach the small intestine where they are absorbed into the bloodstream. FOS is resistant to enzymatic breakdown and enters the colon intact, where it is broken down in a process of fermentation by beneficial bacteria that live in the gut.
On one hand Fermentation of FOS produces short-chain fatty acids. Short-chain fatty acids decrease the risk of colon cancer, according to a 2011 study in the journal "Carcinogenesis." According to a 2009 study in the "Journal of Nutrition," they suppress genetic material that promotes tumor development. A 2007 review article in the "Journal of Nutrition" found that FOS improves the colons immunity against infectious agents. FOS also reduces episodes of constipation.
On the other hand Fructooligosaccharides increase calcium absorption, according to research reported in a 2009 study in the "Journal of Nutrition." When combined with prunes in a 2010 study in the "Journal of Medicinal Food," FOS reversed bone loss in an animal model of post-menopausal, osteoporotic women. FOS may be used as an adjunct to conventional medicine in the treatment of osteoporosis.
FOS is used as a dietary sweetener, and since it is not metabolized in the small intestine it does not contribute calories to the diet. FOS is also associated with lower serum cholesterol. Fructooligosaccharides are extracted from fruits and vegetables like asparagus, bananas, tomatoes and garlic.