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Fructooligosaccharides (FOS), which are found in many vegetables.

Non-digestible oligosaccharides are complex carbohydrates of the non-a-glucan type which, because of the configuration of their osidic bonds, resist hydrolysis by salivary and intestinal digestive enzymes. Following, in the colon they are fermented by anaerobic bacteria. Among all the non-digestible oligosaccharides, the chicory fructooligosaccharides occupy the most position and, in most european countries, they are recognized as natural food ingredients. Other major products may include the short chain fructooligosaccharides and galactooligosaccharides obtained by enzymatic synthesis using sucrose and lactose as substrates respectively, the soybean oligosaccharides, the xylooligosaccharides produced by partial hydrolysis of xylans and polydextrose or pyrodextrins prepared by a chemical treatment of carbohydrates. The most well known effect of most non-digestible oligosaccharides, and in particular of the fructooligosaccharides, is the selective stimulation of the growth of Bifidobacteria; as a result, modifying significantly the composition of the colonic microbiota.

Moreover, this modification, which has been demonstrated in human volunteers, is meant to be benificial in part because it is accompanied by a significant reduction in the number of bacteria that is known to have pathogenic potential. Within the framework of research and development of "functional foods", such an effect justifies a "functional claim" for fructooligosaccharides namely "bifidogenesis". They are also typical "prebiotics". Additional, aside from their bifidogenic effect, the chicory fructooligosaccharides have nutritional properties on digestive physiological parameters like colonic pH and stool bulking which justify their classification as dietary fibers. Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) refer to a class of non-digestible carbohydrates or sugars that occur naturally in a wide variety of foods throughout the plant kingdom.

Since they are non-digestible, they pass through the human digestive virtually unchanged. Fructooligosaccharides is a class of simple carbohydrates found naturally in certain plants, such as Jerusalem artichokes, onions, and bananas which is classified as a food ingredient, and is considered to be safe to eat. In fact, inulin is a significant part of the daily diet for most people.

Although Fructooligosaccharides are non-digestible in humans, they are fermented by the colonic microflora into short-chain fatty acids. These fatty acids may have various health benefits; including, antimicrobial, anticancer most notably, colorectal cancer, hypolipidemic, hypoglycemic, anti-osteoporotic, and anti-osteopenic effects. FOS are benefical to the body because they promote the growth of beneficial bacteria, such as bifidobacteria, in the colon. Researchers came up with the theory that Fructooligosaccharides may have anticancer effects in the colon.

Researchers also hypothesize propionate, produced by Fructooligosaccharides fermentation in the colon, may prevent cholesterol synthesis; as a result, may lower serum cholesterol and blood glucose levels. FOS may be equally useful for the treatment of high serum cholesterol and elevated blood glucose levels. Some studies have shown FOS supplementation to actually lower both of these conditions.

FOS are by far the most abundant type of oligosaccharide, with the typical diet in the USA delivering between 28g/day, (Moshfegh et al, 1999). As a comparison, the 'Mediterranean' type diet delivers between 12-18g/day (Cummings, 1995).

FOS are used as substitute sweeteners and have about one-half the sweetness of table sugar, or sucrose. [5] FOS are much lower in calories and often used in functional food products for its sweetness and health benefits.

A deficiency in FOS has not been reported in medical literature. This is because FOS is not a naturally occurring substance found in human

FOS should not be taken by those individuals with irritable bowel syndrome or a sensitivity to either dietary fiber or inulins. Individuals with lactose intolerance, Pregnant, lactating women, and children should not take supplemental FOS doses above 10 grams daily, unless recommended by a health care provider.

FOS supplementation may enhance the absorption of magnesium and calcium and the possible effectiveness of probiotics.

The lower the levels colonic Bifidobacteria an individual has at the start of the supplementation with FOS, the greater the FOS response will be.

In effect, this means that the impact of FOS is greater for those individuals with the greatest needs.

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