SCD Research

 FOS - Fructooligosaccharides       
FOS is a commonly listed ingredient in vitamin supplements. It is not allowed on the SCD.       


What is FOS and why is it not allowed?       
FOS stands for Fructooligosaccharides, which are a sugar polymer that our bodies cannot digest. Also, FOS and probiotics do not get along.       

FOS and probiotics       

Deanna posted the following excerpt from Probiotics: Nature's Internal Healers, by Natasha Trenev:

Avoid Probiotics with FOS

"Fructooligosaccharides, more commonly known as FOS, is a class of simple carbohydrates found naturally in certain plants, such as Jerusalem artichokes, onions, and bananas. Virtually, all of the FOS added to probiotic products in the United States is chemically manufactured. A Japanese process is utilized in turning white, bleached cane sugar, by the action of a fungal enzyme, into FOS - a sugar polymer that our bodies cannot digest.

"FOS, know in Japan as Meioligo and in scientific terms as neosugar, is used as a sweetening agent, flavor enhancer, bulking agent, and humectant. As a low-calorie sucrose-replacement, FOS is used in cookies, cakes, breads, candies, dairy products, and some beverages. FOS is also added to some Japanese health foods to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract.

"In 1990, Coors Biotech, in an effort to introduce FOS into the food chain of the United States, prepared a GRAS (generally recognized as safe) petition to include FOS as a human food ingredient. As several years of FOS-safe food sales are needed before this approval, the probiotic market was chosen as an easy, nonthreatening way to get the product 'out there.' The health food industry became an ideal test market.

"The addition of FOS in probiotic products is becoming a common practice. Many probiotic manufacturers claim FOS is beneficial in that it feeds friendly bacteria. Those who manufacture high-quality probiotics, however, do not believe in using FOS. Instead, their products require one important component - the valuable supernatant, which naturally and specifically provides food for the bacteria.

"Prudent probiotic manufacturers are concerned with the safety issue of FOS. According to a study conducted by the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) of the Food and Agricultural Organization and World Health Organization (FAO/WHO), the consumption of FOS may cause intestinal problems, such as bloating, abdominal pain, and copious amounts of gas.

"There are a number of additional reasons why some manufacturers of high-quality probiotics do not add FOS to their products. They are:

  • "FOS is manufactured by chemical synthesis. The ingredient is, therefore, not natural, but a chemical additive and may pose toxicological dangers.
  • "FOS is a sugar derivative, therefore, those with a yeast infection should avoid it.
  • "The stability of FOS is poor. The industrial production of purified FOS is a problem and still in the developmental stage.
  • "FOS is inert in the mouth and small intestine because it is not digestible (similar to olestra). It is digested in the colon by the bacteria and may, therefore, change the metabolic activity of the colon, resulting in abnormal functions.
  • "FOS stimulates the growth of Klebsiella and possibly other pathogenic organisms. In one study, Klebsiella has been associated with the autoimmune disease ankylosing spondylitis.
  • "FOS is known to be species as well as strain specific. In other words, not all beneficial bacteria like the FOS diet."

More about FOS       

Per Elaine, "BTVC refers to FOS (inulin) and vegetable starch. The proponents of these seem to want more and more bacteria and microorganisms to grow in the gut. They seem NOT TO CARE if they are pathological or healthy. I do not think they understand our perspective. Steve, I thank you for your email. Many, many get well the way you have; other have reported that the homemade yogurt made the difference. I still think this probiotic thing is being turned into big business and since I DO NOT KNOW what different strains other than Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus bulgaricus do, I am reluctant to support this big hype.