Diet fiber supplement FOS – fructooligosaccharide, or oligofructose – being studied for obesity reduction, also touted as good for health.

An over-the-counter nutritional supplement that is already widely available may become a key factor in weight control in the future.  The all-natural probiotic fiber supplement FOS, or fructooligosaccharide (or oligofructose), is currently marketed as promoting the growth of healthy intestinal bacteria (and intestinal motility). Dr. Raylene Reimer, a researcher at the University of Calgary, Faculty of Kinesiology, believes that FOS may also be an important weight loss weapon in the war against obesity.

Reimer and her colleagues are starting the first human trials anywhere to assess the weight loss value of this promising natural probiotic, which has already been shown to be effective in tests involving genetically obese rats.

“It may not be the magic bullet,” Reimer says, “but in all likelihood this will likely be one factor that people can change in their life to help achieve a healthy body weight. It won’t cure obesity or cause people to drop half their body weight — not even our strongest obesity drugs can do that — but we believe it could help.”

The fibre is called oligo fructose. “It’s not a chemical or a drug. In fact it’s a food product that is already being used in things like yogurt, cereal and baby food. We have found in a previous study with rats that the fibre increases the levels of a satiety hormone called glucagon-like peptide (GLP-1) in the body and increases a gene in the intestines that helps the body to create more GLP-1.”

In a study with genetically obese rats, Reimer and U of C PhD Student Jill Parnell found that consuming the natural fiber helped the rats to significantly reduce their food intake and improved their blood lipid profile.

The new study will involve human subjects for the first time. The researchers are looking for 50 overweight, but otherwise healthy individuals living in Calgary, Canada. The subjects would be required to take the FOS probiotic dietary supplement over a three-month period while making no other lifestyle changes. Participants’ body composition will be tracked using cutting-edge technology to determine their body fat ratios.

“What we have found so far in our animal studies has been very encouraging,” says Reimer. “Another short study done by some Belgian researchers also indicates that the fibre will work for people, but we really won’t know until we complete this detailed, long-term study” (Courtesy of EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS).

Editorial note: Readers of iHealthBulletin News should know that FOS is readily available and is a pleasant and naturally sweet tasting white probiotic powder that can be easily mixed with certain foods (even dissolved in tea as a sweetener). Fructooligosaccharide is a so-called “fermentable” fiber that the good bacteria in your lower GI tract can digest – this is good for them and for your health, but could lead to a modest increase in gas production.  The natural probiotic FOS may have other health benefits besides the hoped for weight loss and appetite and obesity reduction effect – Dr Z.

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