XOS: The Best Prebiotic For Your Gut?
If somebody told you to take a supplement that is impossible to digest and offers no nourishment whatsoever, would you purchase it? Probably not. But what if the selling point was serving as the best fertilizer for the friendly bacteria in your gut? Curious now?
You know that there’s trillions of bacteria in your gut. And you know that you need way more friendly bacteria than potentially-harmful bacteria. (To the tune of 85% friendly and 15% unfriendly bacteria). But here’s something about gut health that you might not know. One of the most abundant groups of friendly bacteria in your gut declines with age. The good news is that there’s a prebiotic fiber called XOS that can help reverse this decline.
If you take a probiotic supplement, there’s a good chance you’ve come across the name of a group of bacteria called bifidobacteria. According to The Life Extension Foundation, bifidobacteria can positively affect our health in many ways, including normalizing cholesterol levels, alleviating allergies and so much more. When you were a baby, about 60% of the bacteria in your gut was bifidobacteria. But by the time you reach old age, that group of good bacteria will account for less than 5% of your total gut bacteria.
XOS: Bifidobacteria’s Favorite Food
In light of the fact that levels of bifidobacteria decline precipitously with age, why not just take massive amounts of probiotics with bifidobacteria to repopulate the gut?
Sure, probiotics may help, provided they are of high quality. But popping probiotics might not be enough. You see, you need to think of probiotics as a vegetable garden. Probiotics are like sprouts. But something needs to seed those sprouts. And that something is healthy fertilizer. In order to grow an abundant, thriving garden in your gut, you need fertilizer.
Prebiotic fiber is fertilizer for your friendly gut bacteria. (Learn more about the difference between prebiotics, probiotics and postbiotics here.) But not all prebiotic fiber is the same. There is one in particular called XOS that may be the cream of the fertilized crop.
XOS stands for xylooligosaccharide. It’s made from either sugar cane or non-GMO corn. As opposed to other prebiotic fibers, XOS does not feed the unfriendly bacteria as much as the soluble fiber in grains. (Prebiotic fibers are soluble fibers.)
Research studies have shown that XOS can really give a boost to bifidobacteria colonization in the gut.
Convenient small dose of XOS
But why not just eat more foods with prebiotic fiber like garlic, onions, bananas, leeks, asparagus, legumes, and chicory root?
Well, the reason why is because you’d have to eat a whole lot of those vegetables to dramatically boost bifido levels in your gut. Like platefuls. And all that fiber might leave you with some uncomfortable gas and bloating.
The convenient thing about taking a XOS supplement is how little of it you need to increase bifidobacteria. As opposed to needing 20 grams of prebiotic fiber from food, one study showed that as little as 2.8 grams of XOS significantly improved bifidobacteria levels in just 14 days.
More Benefits of XOS
But boosting bifido wasn’t the only benefit. The subjects who took XOS also had less fecal acidity. What does that mean? Well, your poop should actually register slightly above 7.0 on the pH scale, meaning that your poop is basic or alkaline. If you have acidic poop, it usually indicates a digestive disorder or an infection like e. Coli.
Another benefit of XOS may be that it can remove excess cholesterol, triglycerides and help normalize blood-sugar levels.
Moreover, XOS prebiotic fiber may help add bulk to your stool, lower inflammation, increase mineral absorption and decrease the risk of developing colon cancer.
And last but not least, when you have more bifidobacteria in your gut, your immune system will be more resilient.
Prebiotics: The New Probiotics
Prebiotic fiber supplements have been around for longer than you may think. So why aren’t they as popular as probiotics? Well, perhaps it’s because it’s hard for people to understand just how important they are—despite the fact that we can’t digest prebiotic fiber and they really offer nothing in terms of nutritional value like vitamins and minerals. (Foods with prebiotic fiber have vitamins and minerals but prebiotic fiber supplements usually do not.)
But the important thing to remember is that good gut health can only be achieved if your friendly bacteria is fed. XOS prebiotic fiber just might be the best fertilizer for your trillions of friendly bacteria.