The benefits of fructooligosaccharides (FOS) include aiding the digestive system and preventing illness. One FOS ingredient consists almost entirely of short-chain oligosaccharides, the type that helps grow beneficial bacteria in the large intestine.

NutraFlora®, from GTC Nutrition Co., Golden, Colo., consists of 95% short-chain oligosaccharides. It is enzymatically processed from fructose and glucose derived from sugar cane and sugar beets so that only 2-3% glucose remains.

“It is 95% pure short-chain FOS,” says Paula Karabell, technical director. “It's very consistent and it gives better benefits. The short-chain FOS is a very effective bifidogenic. It encourages the growth of helpful bifidobacteria and some lactobacilli in the intestine, and it doesn't grow E. Coli or Clostridium. The longer chain FOS are not as effective.”

FOS functions as soluble fiber in the gastrointestinal system. It is indigestible in humans. However, it promotes health by encouraging growth of bacteria that strengthen the immune system and fight infection. It is metabolized into short-chain fatty acids that provide metabolic energy, help digest food and amino acids, produce certain vitamins and promote regularity.

Studies of soluble fiber indicate that it helps the intestinal tract absorb calcium and magnesium more efficiently, and that it helps lower cholesterol. Ongoing studies are exploring the role of soluble fiber in preventing the development of long-term health problems such as colon cancer, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and ulcerative colitis.

NutraFlora consists of molecules of which ~35% are oligosaccharides that are one glucose and two fructose units (GF2), 55% that are three fructose units (GF3) and 10% that are four fructose units (GF4).
“In newborn babies, the intestinal bacteria is 95% bifidobacteria,” says Susan Drake, R.D., technical sales manager, GTC Nutrition. “It decreases over time. The idea is to keep the healthy bacteria count up.” The FDA has approved FOS ingredients for infants five months and older, she adds.

NutraFlora also has a slightly sweet flavor because it has 30% of the sweetness intensity of sugar. In grain-based nutrition or snack bars, it acts as a humectant and may extend shelf life. The FOS enhances flavors, especially fruit flavors, such as fruit-flavored fillings often used in grain-based bars. When soy protein is part of the formulation, it masks the soy or beany notes.

Beverages and milk-based products are other good categories for the FOS. The soluble fiber does not increase viscosity, and it can be used in waters, soy bases, dairy bases or medical nutritionals. The heat of retorting or aseptic processing does not cause it to break down, however, it is best used in low-acid or neutral pH. A higher acid pH, below 3.5, causes it to degrade back to glucose and fructose.

In delicate cookies, such as sugar cookies, it imparts a golden brown color because it does not contain reducing sugars and does not brown as fast as sugar. European yogurt producers include FOS in their formulations when using aspartame, because it masks the flavor of the high-intensity sweetener.

The versatile soluble fiber can be used in baked goods, frozen desserts, puddings, sauces and gravies, and many other food products. It performs well when heated, frozen or thawed and in many types of cooking techniques, such as boiling, baking, frying, or broiling. It is water-soluble, safe for diabetics, and has non-GMO, organic and Kosher certifications.

Four forms of the soluble fiber are offered: two powders and two syrups. One of the syrups consists of 95% FOS, and the other is 55% FOS and 45% glucose/fructose.

For more information:
Jim Low at 800 522-4682
GTC Nutrition Co. Write in 202