Prebiotics are soluble fibers, which travel undigested to the colon, where they feed beneficial bacteria. Bimuno and other GOS prebiotics are turning out to be the most interesting gut health promoters in this group of important fibers.
The health benefits of probiotics are well known by now. But in order to permanently change distribution among the trillions of bacteria in our guts, probiotics are not good enough – prebiotics and prebiotic foods are needed.
Common forms of prebiotic fibers that are found in certain foods and may be supplemented are fructooligosaccharides (FOS), galactooligosaccharides (GOS), inulin and resistant starch. All of these prebiotics are able to promote the growth of the desirable bifidobacterium species.
Experiments have shown that GOS is likely the most efficient type of prebiotic to stimulate the growth of bifidobacteria. Bimuno prebiotic is the most commonly used and studied GOS product.
I have previously written about how my body was negatively impacted by years of work-related stress combined with strenuous training and simultaneous dieting for wrestling competitions.
One part of my body that seemed to be particularly broken was my gut. I became very sensitive to many foods I used to be able to eat. Sugars caused microscopic world wars in my gut and at times foods just didn’t stay in. Prebiotics were an important part of my recovery.
The Significance of Bifidobacteria
When bifidobacteria ferment the prebiotic fiber that arrives in the colon, important short chained fatty acids are being formed in the process.
The most prominent fatty acids being produced during this fermentation process are butyrate, acetate, and propionate. These water-soluble fatty acids are absorbed from the colon to be used by the cells in our bodies.
Butyrate is the most important energy source for the cells lining the colon. Studies have shown that butyrate has anti-inflammatory effects and it can protect against colon cancer. (1)
Besides fatty acids, bifidobacteria produce other important compounds, such as conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which has many health promoting effects. CLA is beneficial in weight management and diabetes prevention and it also has an anticarcinogenic effect. (2)
GOS Prebiotic for IBS and other Intestinal Disorders
The composition of intestinal bacteria is important not only for gut health, but for whole body health. Besides digestion, the gut microbiome also plays a role for example in energy production and hormone function.
There are more than 100 million neurons in our guts—nerve cells—which are normally perceived as brain cells . Our intestinal tract is home to over 75% of our immune system
In an English study, GOS prebiotic was given to 44 patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome. The patients were randomized to receive either 3.5, or 7 grams of Bimuno GOS daily for 12 weeks. With both dosages, the prebiotic significantly stimulated the growth of bifidobacteria and relieved the symptoms of IBS. (6)
In a German study, scientists discovered that the inulin prebiotic is also effective in promoting the growth of bifidobacteria and in alleviating constipation. The benefits of constipation treatment were also noted in another French study with a daily inulin supplement dosage of 15 grams. (7, 8)
Bimuno GOS and Mental Health
The microbes in our guts produce compounds that activate the immune system along with neuroactive compounds which are in connection to the brain and affect our behavior and mood.
In a recent study conducted at Oxford University, scientists observed the impact of prebiotic supplements to anxiety. Forty-five healthy volunteers were given either a placebo, GOS prebiotic or FOS prebiotic for three weeks.
The results of the study were that the B-GOS prebiotic significantly lowered the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the test subjects and decreased the sensations of anxiety and stress. (9)
Along with prebiotics, also probiotics are among the effective supplements for treating anxiety.
Sensation of Hunger
The objective of three small European studies was to determine if prebiotics influence the sensation of hunger. In all three studies, the study subjects felt less hungry and more satiated after meals following prebiotic supplementation compared to control groups who received a placebo instead of the prebiotics. (12, 13, 14)
Bimuno Prebiotic for Traveler’s Diarrhea
Researchers at the University of Reading set out to examine if Bimuno GOS prebiotic supplement would help to prevent travelers diarrhea.
A total of 81 travelers whose destinations were in Asia, Africa, Central or South America took Bimuno prebiotic during their trip. At the same time, 78 travelers took a placebo supplement in the control group. (15)
In the Bimuno prebiotic group, 19 test subjects got diarrhea stomach sicknesses and the duration of the illness was 2.4 days on average. Among the placebo group, 30 passengers developed stomach sicknesses and the average duration of the illness was 4.6 days.
The researchers summed up in their report that the GOS prebiotic showed significant potential in preventing the incidence and reducing the symptoms of traveler’s diarrhea.
Endotoxemia is a process where certain unwanted bacteria produce (toxic) molecules, which travel through the gut wall into systemic circulation. These harmful molecules are called endotoxins. They are the lipopolysaccharide (LPS) cell wall remnants of many gram-negative bacterial species such as E. coli.
The translocation of these endotoxins causes an immune reaction, constant low-grade inflammation, and cortisol secretion. Some theories suggest that the inflammation and stress caused by these circulating endotoxins might be a significant cause for metabolic disorders and many western diseases.
In two studies, prebiotic regimens have been able to reduce the numbers of circulating LPS endotoxins. (16, 17) There are different explanations for what may have caused these positive outcomes. The prebiotics may have caused healthy bacterial colonies to displace endotoxemia producing bacteria. Alternately, the healthy fatty acids produced by the prebiotic-fed bifidobacteria may have strengthened the intestinal walls. Thus reducing the translocation of the endotoxins through the gut wall.
Is Bimuno GOS the Most Effective Prebiotic?
All prebiotics work by definition: they stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut. It is recommended to eat foods that have these prebiotic fibers in them, foods such as onions and beans. Often prebiotic supplements are also useful.
The benefit of taking supplemental prebiotics is knowing exactly what type of prebiotic and how much of it you are getting. This can be essential when testing prebiotics as a treatment for a health condition.
The most commonly sold prebiotic supplements are FOS and Inulin, which are proven to promote bifidobacteria growth. However, studies have shown that GOS is the most effective prebiotic in stimulating bifidobacteria growth when compared to other prebiotic forms. (16, 17, 18)
This ability of GOS prebiotics to significantly promote the numbers of healthy gut bacteria was also noted in an English study, where the gut microbiomes of healthy elderly volunteers were examined. (19)
GOS prebiotic supplements are not yet as widely sold as the more common FOS and Inulin supplements. For example iHerb, one of the largest online stores for natural products does not have GOS products in stock. GOS prebiotics are available on Amazon but the Bimuno brand is usually cheaper when bought straight from the manufacturers website.
A French prebiotic study from 2004 came to an interesting conclusion: prebiotic supplements were more bifidogenic for people who had the least bifidobacteria in their guts. (20)
This means that prebiotics like Bimuno GOS are most helpful for people, whose gut bacteria distribution is in the worst shape and probably contributing to sickness.
How to use Prebiotics
I was asked for some tips on how prebiotics should be taken, so here are a few pointers on taking Bimuno GOS or any other prebiotics.
Prebiotics can be taken at any time during the day. Test what suits you best. It’s good to remember that gas is often produced in the gut when gut bacteria ferment these fibers – Just like when eating prebiotic-rich foods like beans and peas.
This gas production is actually a good thing, as it means that the prebiotics are working. It takes about 5-8 hours for these prebiotics to reach the colon, where the fermentation happens. So maybe the prebiotics should not be taken in the morning of a date night.
It’s probably best to take prebiotic supplements with food since that’s how our bodies are used to receiving and processing all the nutrients.
If you are taking Bimuno GOS prebiotic or any other strong prebiotic, it is possible to get die-off reactions such as headaches or insomnia as the good bacteria displace the bad. You can check my post about tips on taking probiotics for more information on die-off reactions.
Prebiotic Food Sources
The prebiotic amounts in the table below are for raw foodstuffs. Cooking or boiling foods decreases the amount of prebiotics by 25-75%. However, the inulin content of onions apparently decreases only by 10-20 % when heated.
Prebiotic content in grams per 100 grams of food
|Food||Inulin (g)||FOS (g)||GOS (g)|
|Wheat flour, cooked||2||2|
There are different prebiotic fibers in many other foods, that can feed beneficial bacteria as well and maintain healthy bacteria levels, such as the fibers in grain products or the resistant starch found in potatoes and rice. With resistant starch, it’s not that clear if it may feed the unwanted bacteria as well as the desirable ones.
Resistant starch is found in typical carbohydrate-rich foods, such as potatoes and rice. In my opinion, one of the biggest drawbacks of low-carb diets is that they may easily lead to undesirable and unhealthy gut bacteria distributions in lacking the crucial prebiotic fibers.
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