I've been looking into options to feed my flora because I don't eat much in the way of carbs (though I eat a lot of salad and raw spinach). I read this on FOS...facts or fiction?
To XXXX and anyone else interested in why gums can cause problems. The very chemistry of what constitutes a gum is because the structure of the carbohydrates is such that it forms a latticework that confers on it a sticky-like, glue-like consistency. The diagram of the amylopectin
molecule on page 30 of my book demonstrates this latticework. It is my hypothesis that at the point of the branches in the molecule is a chemical link called alpha 1-6 isomaltose which we cannot digest (cannot break two
glucose molecules attached with that link). I believe that because we cannot digest it, it naturally moves down to the lower small intestine and colon as isomaltose and that a certain type of microorganism thrives on just that very disaccharide. This part of the hypothesis is very exciting
to me as most corn products, all potatoes, and FOS have links similar to the isomaltose which remains undigested and goodness knows what is being nourished down there.
First of all she admits that this whole thing is a hypothesis, which is nothing more than an educated guess not backed with any evidence. On the other hand studies have shown that vegetable gums are very effective for feeding the beneficial flora.
Inulin is an FOS.
We have a good page on FOS/inulin:
It is on the bottom of this page:
Making a Case Against FOS and Inulin
Have you heard about Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) or Inulin yet? If not, you will. These are the latest and greatest refined chemicals that probiotic and yoghurt manufacturers are adding to their products for "your
health". It seems that only a few probiotic manufacturers are against using them, with Natren leading the charge.
Already sounds like sales hype.
But we like to ask, why is this? Why would Natren be against using FOS in yoghurt and probiotic
supplements? What kind of financial gain is involved in not using the latest and greatest chemicals in your products? None that we could think of. So we decided to investigate this matter further.
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.
They have that part true.
Inulin/FOS also goes by the name of Neosugar, Alant Starch, Atlanta Starch, Alantin, Dahlin, Helenin, and Diabetic Sugar. Inulin tastes sweet, cannot be digested by humans, and 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 our guts.
So far so good.
3. Inulin/FOS feeds only good bacteria, right?
Wrong. 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
Yes, this is true and I have addressed it before:
On the other hand they are not telling the full story. All cells whether a body cell or a pathogen requires a food source. So it makes sense that they can utilize the sugars utilized by our beneficial bacteria as well. This does not mean that the sugars are going to cause any dangerous overgrowth of pathogens though. First of all if this were the case then the same concept would also have to be applied to all other food sources from simple sugars up to cellulose. Of course this is not the case. Same applies to the naturally occurring FOS and inulin in the foods we eat.
One of the facts they are overlooking is the fact that what happens in a Petri dish does not always occur in the body. For example, Klebsiella can be isolated in a Petri dish and fed FOS and inulin and yes it will grow freely. In the body though there are other opposing factors. In the intestines Klebsiella will be in competition for both food and space with the beneficial flora. In addition, the flora produce acids, bactericides and peroxides that help control pathogenic bacteria such as Klebsiella. Therefore, Klebsiella may be fed by FOS and inulin but this DOES NOT mean it will allow the Klebsiella to grow out of control. So the claim is really nothing more than scare tactic sales hype.
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. Historically, 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 irresponible to think that they will not adapt to utilize Inulin/FOS, a high energy carbohydrate. 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.
Again nothing more than scare tactic sales hype. Just as with the pathogenic bacteria yeasts are also kept in check by acids and peroxides generated by the beneficial intestinal flora. This is why despite the consumption of sugars from simple sugars to cellulose by most people that most people do not have yeast overgrowth. They also overlooked several other important facts. First of all Candida yeast is naturally found in everyone's body. And as I mentioned earlier they need to feed in order to survive just like any other cell. But our beneficial Lactobacillus and Bifidus bacteria generate acids that not only turn off the Candida growth gene, but also keeps the Candida in its benign (harmless) yeast form. It is a lack of these beneficial flora that create an alkaline environment that turns on the Candida growth gene and causes the dimorphic Candida microbe to convert in to its pathogenic fungal form. Here are some more detailed posts I did previously:
Then there is the fact that they are not differentiating between different yeasts. Some yeasts are beneficial. For example Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Saccharomyces boulardii, which are both used as prebiotics.
4. Why is Inulin/FOS being added to probiotic supplements and yoghurt?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 yoghurt - 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?
If they check the studies then they would know the answer is yes.
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?Wrong. Sucrose (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 history.
Again they are being VERY misleading. Sucrose is sucrose no matter if it is refined, raw or part of a compound such as honey. No matter what form the sucrose is in the body will still recognize it as sucrose and will still break it down and utilize it in the same manner.
We should learn from our experiences with sucrose and apply them to Inulin/FOS.
What experiences? Again sucrose is sucrose no matter if raw, refined or compounded. It is broken down by the same enzymes for absorption or utilization by the beneficial flora, yeasts/fungi and pathogens. But again luckily the beneficial flora dominate in most cases preventing the overgrowth of pathogens in most cases by competing for space and food with the pathogens as well as producing bactericides, peroxides and acids that control the pathogens.
Instead of adding refined, super concentrated Inulin/FOS to your food, eat the foods that naturally contain Inulin/FOS.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.
And as with sucrose the body does not recognize the difference between the inulin and FOS found in foods and those extracted from foods or manufactured. And again if they looked at the studies rather than assuming their claims they would have known this.
Of the nutritional fibers, cellulose was the most likely to be included in a traditional hunter-gatherer diet.
There are all sorts of hypotheses on what the traditional "hunter-gatherer" diet consisted of, which is why they say "most likely". But many of the foods they would have collected would have also contained a number of other fibers including pectins, vegetable gums, inulin, FOS, etc. So again their statement is very misleading.
Cellulose is an insoluble fiber that is slowly fermented by the microbial population in the human colon.
Yes, but fermented in to the same simple sugars that are produced by the fermentation of FOS and inulin, which they claim is dangerous since they can feed yeasts and pathogens.
Inulin/FOS is a soluble fiber that is quickly and easily fermented.
Well duh!!!! They are shorter chain sugar molecules than cellulose so they are going to be broken down quicker than a longer chain sugar molecule. Same reason inulin and FOS ferment at different rates since they consist of different lengths of their sugar chains. But faster fermentation does not make something dangerous. If that were the case then glucose would kill us because it is fermented even faster than FOS or inulin. But the fact is that we cannot survive without glucose.
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?
Again a total misrepresentation as explained above. In addition, we are adapted to both inulin and FOS just as we are to cellulose. That is why we are able to eat foods such as bananas among other foods without harm.
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 the culprit behind more food allergies than is currently recognized."
LOL!!!! You can be allergic to most anything. There are people out there allergic to sunlight and even their own tears. So this again is nothing more than scare tactic sales!!!
Also note that they could only find one documented case. Considering how common inulin and FOS are in our foods that would make this one of the least allergenic foods on Earth. And a lot less allergenic than the dairy based probiotics that are most common on the market.
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 Inluin/FOS permeates our food supply, the list of side effects is expected to grow.
People can experience these same side effects with cellulose and other sources such as beans. So should people avoid these as well? And the side effects they mention are generally only seen when extremely high doses are used. So again I see their claims as being nothing more than scare tactic sales hype.
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.
And again this would apply to the fibers naturally found in our diets including FOS and inulin. Yet after all these centuries people are not dropping like rain by being overtaken by pathogens feeding on these fibers. Why? Because hypotheses and Petri dish studies do not always correlate with what actually happens in the human body. Again this is why it is so important to get information from credible sites, not full of hype sales sites.
Inlulin/FOS has been touted as such a molecule, but seems to fail the test as you examine it further.
They did not fail the test. Studies have shown their benefits in increasing the numbers of beneficial bacteria, which help control the growth of pathogens. That is not a bad or dangerous thing. In fact, let's look at some of the research that has been done and apparently ignored:
Here is a study showing what I was saying earlier about inulin and FOS helping to suppress pathogenic bacteria:
Even if Inluin/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?
Why do they feel that one has to be better than the other? That is like saying which is more important, the heart or the brain? Fact is just like the organs in the body the beneficial flora work together to keep us healthy.
The GI 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?
And again this is not what the studies have shown. If they want to worry about this though then they would have to stop eating since our diets tend to contain fibers that all break down in to the same sugars that feed both the beneficial flora, Candida and pathogens. But again why is it that with the thousands of years of humans consuming fibers how have we managed to survive and prevent from being overtaken by the pathogens feeding on these sugars right along with our beneficial flora? The answer is simple. The beneficial flora that also feed on these sugars normally dominate by producing compounds that keep pathogens under control despite their feeding on these same sugar sources.
Would the overgrowth of one species be beneficial?
And once again the fibers feed various species, not one species. Luckily the beneficial species produce compounds such as bactericides, peroxides and acids that control the growth of pathogens while competing for space and food with these pathogens.
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 with Inulin/FOS.
And again, to assume that inulin and FOS will disrupt the balance of the flora is not a good thing especailly when research proving this incorrect is so readily available. It only serves to put other claims claims being made by this person in to question.
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