Prebiotics FOS & Inulin Not Recommended
Excerpts from: Article Source
1. What is FOS and Inulin?
Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) and inulin
are types of fructo-polysaccharides, comprised of -(glucose-fructose)- subunits. The only difference between
FOS and inulin is polymer chain length. Inulin/FOS also goes by the name of Neosugar,
Alant Starch, Atlanta Starch, Alantin,
Dahlin, Helenin, and
Diabetic Sugar. Inulin tastes sweet, and it cannot be
digested by humans, and it is soluble (unlike cellulose).
2. What does Inulin/FOS do?
Since Inulin/FOS is indigestible by our bodies, it gets
transported to the large intestine where it feeds microbes and promotes
fermentation. Inulin/FOS has been dubbed a "prebiotic", essentially serving as fertilizer
for the bacteria in your colon.
Certain lactobacillus species of bacteria have
been shown to preferentially ferment Inulin/FOS. For
this reason, it is being promoted as a supplement to feed the good bacteria in
3. Inulin/FOS feeds only good bacteria, right?
Manufacturers claim that Inulin/FOS specifically
feeds only good bacteria. The reality of the situation is much different. If
you examine the scientific literature about Inulin/FOS,
you will find that this is untrue.
The best example is concerning Klebsiella. Recent studies have shown that Inulin/FOS encourages the growth of Klebsiella, a bacterium implicated in Ankylosing Spondylitis and increased intestinal permeability. Inulin/FOS may indeed promote the growth of lactobacillus bacteria, but what other potentially harmful bacteria are we feeding as well?
Furthermore, we have not even addressed the issue of yeast. Many different species of yeast are able to
utilize Inulin/FOS for energy.
microbes have demonstrated the innate ability to adapt to almost any condition
and fuel source. If bacteria can adapt to break down industrial solvents in our
soil and use them for energy, it would be irresponsible to think that they will
not adapt to utilize Inulin/FOS, a high energy
There are hundreds of different species of bacteria and several
yeast strains living in our GI tracts. Studies have only looked at the effects
of Inulin/FOS on a handful of these microbes.
4. Why is Inulin/FOS being added to probiotic supplements and yogurt?
A key principle
in today's marketplace is product differentiation. If a manufacturer can sell
many different kinds of "specialty" products, that are in essence the
same thing, it can make a larger profit.
Think about it for a moment. We no
longer have plain old toothpaste, instead we have such
items as tartar control, sensitive, baking soda, peroxide, whitening, gum care,
and many others.
Adding a new claim to an old product adds to consumer
excitement: "Brand X yogurt - now with Inulin/FOS
for your health" & "We now offer lactobacillus capsules with Inulin/FOS." These new claims will help fight market
stagnation and lead to greater profits for the manufacturer. But will FOS lead
to greater health for the consumer?
5. Is Inulin/FOS found naturally anywhere?
Yes. It is found
naturally in asparagus, garlic, Jerusalem Artichokes, chicory root, and others.
6. Since Inulin/FOS is found in natural foods it must be okay, right?
(table sugar) is naturally found in beets, sugar cane, oranges, and other
plants. Humans have perverted this naturally occurring substance into a refined
chemical. Sucrose is arguably one of the most unhealthy food additives in human
We should learn from our experiences with sucrose and apply them to Inulin/FOS. Instead of adding refined, super concentrated Inulin/FOS to your food, eat the foods that naturally
The body is
genetically adapted to certain foods and if we continue to mess with our food
chain then our health will suffer the consequences. Of the nutritional fibers, cellulose was the most likely to be included in a
traditional hunter gatherer diet.
Cellulose is an insoluble fiber
that is slowly fermented by the microbial population in the human colon. Inulin/FOS is a soluble fiber
that is quickly and easily fermented. The difference between cellulose (a food
we are adapted to) and Inulin/FOS (a food we are not
adapted to) is like the difference between a slow burning ember and a raging
fire. Who likes playing with fire?
7. Is it possible to be allergic to Inulin/FOS?
Yes. In one
documented case, inulin caused an anaphylactic
reaction. As the use of Inulin/FOS as an additive in the food industry increases,
reports of allergic responses will probably increase.Inulin may be
behind more food allergies than is currently recognized.
8. What are the recognized side effects of ingesting Inulin/FOS?
Assuming one is
not allergic to Inulin/FOS, the typical side effects
will vary depending on one's level of tolerance. The list of known side effects
include: flatulence, bloating, cramps, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. As Inulin/FOS permeates our food supply, the list of side
effects is expected to grow.
In theory, a
food additive that could specifically feed good bacteria might prove useful for
intestinal health. Given the nature of the microbes and their ability to
quickly adapt to various carbohydrate foods sources, it seems highly unlikely
that such a chemical will be developed.
has been touted as such a molecule, but seems to fail the test as you examine
it further. Even if Inulin/FOS did display specifity for beneficial bacteria, do we know enough about
the complex microbial ecology of the human GI tract to deem a species of
bacteria better than the others?
The digestive tract is
much like a rain forest with a very complex web of life. What would happen to a
rain forest if, in our arrogance, we decided to spread a chemical that
fertilized one specific type of tree?
Would the overgrowth of one species be
beneficial? Our GI tracts have adapted to house a variety of microbes and to
disrupt this balance might be detrimental to our health. With these concerns, we recommend staying far away from any product