This type of dietary fiber – as opposed to α-galacto-oligosaccharides that come from cereals and pulses – are composed of β-linked galactose molecules with glucose or galactose at the reducing end.
GOS has a number of benefits for consumers of dairy products. From a labeling perspective, GOS has been recognized by the FDA as a non-digestible carbohydrate and therefore added to the definition of dietary fiber. Dietary fiber consumption brings numerous well-documented benefits, primarily by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria in our lower gastrointestinal tract. And GOS is particularly good at enabling us to build that microbiome.
Improving the nutritional benefits of dairy with GOS
Though several definitions exist, prebiotics are often described as non-digestible food ingredients that benefit those who eat them by selectively stimulating bacterial activity in the colon.
So, how does GOS make this happen, and what makes it different than other prebiotics?
Well, in humans, GOS are preferentially metabolized by Bifidobacteria, giving this type of beneficial bacteria a leg-up on its competitors. Bifidobacteria produce short chain fatty acids (SFCA) such as butyrate, propionate and acetate which can be metabolized by our bodies and linked to a number of benefits. SFCA play an important role in a healthy epithelial layer in our lower intestine, including the cells and the mucosal layer. It is this layer that our body relies on to bring the best nutrients in and the most harmful ones out.