Why should I take FOS supplements? What can they do for me? How will they help my health?
Let?s start with what FOS stands for. FOS stands for fructo-oligosaccharides. This is a highfaluting way of referring to good old fruit sugars, such as you?ll find in many fruit and vegetables. You may be more familiar with its common name of fructose. FOS, along with GOS (galacto-oligosaccharides, or galactose), can only be partly digested by the human body. The same applies to inulin (not to be confused with insulin), which is a polysaccharide and a form of fiber.
The immediate question to ask here is if we can only partially digest FOS, GOS and inulin, why take them as supplements? The answer is that while we don?t digest them, the friendly flora living in your gut do. These bacteria (rather them than me) live inside the bowel and aid in good health and digestion. Some of these friendly bacteria are the lactobacillus and the bifidus species. These bacteria help keep toxic bacteria out of your system. If you?ve ever been on antibiotics and have suffered a yeast infection or a slightly upset tummy, this is why: the antibiotics have killed of your friendly bacteria, so replacing them (live yoghurt is the easiest way) plus giving them a beneficial environment to live in with FOS, GOS and inulin supplements.
Now the other great thing about FOS, GOS and inulin supplements is that they can possibly help in lowering blood sugar levels (although studies are still attempting to confirm this). This is good news for those who have Type 2 diabetes (non-insulin dependent or adult-onset diabetes), as they need to get their blood sugar levels down and reduce the amount of insulin (insulin, not inulin this time) in their system (producing too much insulin means that your cells become insensitive to it and won?t respond to it so the sugars in the bloodstream can be turned into energy, so the sugar just stays in the bloodstream). As inulin in particular has no effect at all on blood sugar (blood glucose), it can help in managing Type 2 diabetes (and probably is no bad thing for Type 1 diabetics either, if blood sugar management through diet rather than insulin dosage is an issue). Several scientific studies so far have shown that in people with raised triglyceride levels (either through pre-diabetes or full-blown Type 2 diabetes), taking inulin supplementation at a rate of 10 g a day for 8 weeks lowered their triglyceride levels and got their fasting blood sugar levels down significantly and also lowered insulin concentration.
While it is possible to get a reasonable intake of FOS, GOS and inulin through certain vegetables, it?s also true that these vegetables are a bit oddball and not to everyone?s taste and thus are available at the House Of Nutrition in nutrition supplement form the list includes Jerusalem artichoke (which isn?t the same as the globe artichoke at all ? they just taste similar), onions, leeks, garlic, burdock, chicory and asparagus, and even some other common plants like dandelions. Taking a FOS and/or inulin supplement is much easier than trying to munch your way through dandelions like a rabbit, trying to find a good supply of Jerusalem artichokes or having the bad breath that comes from eating garlic.
One more thing in the trivia department: inulin may play a big role in the future in fighting the fuel crisis and global warming, as it can be converted into ethanol, which is a biofuel gasoline substitute. Good for your insides and good for the planet!