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Fructo-Oligo-Saccharides (FOS) are naturally occurring sugars that have beneficial effects as food ingredients. FOS are also known as prebiotics because they promote the growth of probiotics such as Acidophilus, Bifidus and Faecium.
You are utterly dependent upon your intestine as a primary organ for assimilating nutrients and eliminating toxins. You share the use of your intestine with 100 trillion microorganisms weighing roughly the same as your left arm from elbow to fingertip. Beneficial microorganisms, like acidophilus, support your health by creating specially needed nutrients like vitamins B-3, B-6, B-12, biotin, folic acid and K, plus natural antibiotics, anti-tumor factors and other immune factors.
Undesirable microorganisms like Candida albicans eat your food and poison you in return. Environmental pollution, antibiotics and sugary, processed foods can drastically alter your intestinal environment allowing undesirables to take over. When eaten at the rate of 1 gram per day, FOS has been shown to decrease undesirables and to create a fivefold increase in beneficial, health-creating flora.
FOS provide nutritional support for the entire GI tract by addressing four key areas of intestinal function: energy requirements of intestinal mucosa, structural composition of intestinal and colonic cells, microorganism balance, and regulation of protective intestinal mucous secretions. FOS supplies non-digestible fructo-oligo-saccharides to further encourage growth of beneficial microorganisms. N-Acetyl-D-Glucosamine is used as a structural component of intestinal mucous secretions that protect intestinal tissues and help food pass through the GI tract.
The Japanese diet may hold the answer to cutting the soaring death rate from colon cancer in the United States. While the rate of colon cancer in the United States continues to climb (25 deaths per 100,000 population annually, the third-highest form of cancer in the United States), the death rate from colon cancer in Japan is more than one-third lower (16 deaths per 100,000 population annually). Why the difference in colon cancer rates between the populations of these two modern, industrialized nations?
Diet appears to be an important factor. A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition notes the association between “the high-fat, high-protein diet of Western societies” and “an increased incidence of colorectal cancer.” The study (Buddington et all, Am J Clin Nutr 1996;63: 709-16) focuses on the positive health effects of FOS, a dietary supplement that promotes the growth of bifidobacteria (or “friendly bacteria”) in the digestive tract. The researchers state that “one factor that has been implicated in the lower incidence of colon cancer in Asian populations is the traditional diet, which is associated with higher densities of bifidobacteria and other bacteria considered to be beneficial.”
The study concludes that the enzyme “B-Glucuronidase, which has been implicated in carcinogenesis,” is significantly reduced in the colon of persons with FOS-supplemented diets. The study also reports that persons supplementing their diets with FOS show reduced levels of another enzyme, glycocholic acid hydroxylase, which, according to the study, “is involved with metabolism of bile acids and may be linked to the increased risk of cancer associated with high-fat diets.”
The Japanese take these friendly bacteria very seriously; in fact, FOS enjoys widespread acceptance in Japan as a food additive and “functional” (health-promoting) food. The Japanese FDA recognizes FOS as “a beneficial food for specific health use,” and has approved its use in more than 500 Japanese food products including infant formula, bread and coffee. FOS is a highly concentrated form of fructooligosaccharides (FOS), a naturally occurring carbohydrate found (in much lower concentration levels) in bananas, tomatoes, garlic and barley.
When consumed daily, FOS promotes the growth of “friendly bacteria” in the intestinal tract. These bacteria, in turn, maintain intestinal health, promote regularity and fight off “bad bacteria” such as E. coli, clostridium and salmonella. “In Japan, FOS isn’t just an important dietary supplement and food additive, it’s a part of everyday life,” says Brown. “Mothers typically put a bag of chocolate candy or snacks containing it in their kids’ lunch boxes to make sure they get their daily FOS.”
Scientific studies have shown that adding as little as one gram of FOS to a person’s daily diet for four weeks will increase the number of friendly bacteria fivefold. “FOS is simply the number-one defense against the high-fat American diet,” says Brown. “Adding one teaspoon of FOS to your daily diet provides as much FOS as that found in 13 bananas – or 22 onions, 16 tomatoes or 429 cloves of garlic. It’s numerous health benefits are backed by solid scientific evidence. By feeding the friendly bacteria in your digestive system, FOS literally grows good health.”