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Inulin, FOS, and Research



For the record, I accept that FOS and inulin are probably (in this crazy IBD game I always have an open mind to even the most wacky possibilities) bad news for those of us with IBD, but I'd like to understand more regarding the details of why the mainstream is so hyped up about FOS. Dr. May over on the CCFA site (I know and share most of your feelings on them, though Dr. May for his part is at least progressive for a GI as he believes in probiotics) is now a big FOS-pusher and the internet is now churning with website articles, including medline abstracts, touting how FOS selectively feeds ("supercharges" is the term sometimes used) probiotics while actually inhibiting pathogens. Like you, I don't buy how it is that pathogens can't eat the same food, but if all those scientists are marching down the same blind alley, I'd like to pinpoint some data (or conspicuous lack of data on safety, as the case may be) to prove them wrong and keep them headed in the right places. As for the other camp, I want to know more about the theory too, so I can understand where it is wrong, or perhaps learn something from it. I certainly don't mean any disrespect on your well founded advice here on inulin and FOS, though.


Elaine writes:

What a vicious cycle!
If the GI specialists do not believe that SCD works and want to know how it is backed by publications, what would you tell them. Would you tell them to get on the listserv and look at the recoveries? You would not have a let to stand on. In the same way, when I had our miracle with the SCD, I started at step one and attempted to understand it for many years, 12 of which we spent studying just about everything in medical science and in university. I realized that we were trying to avoid fermentable carbs and thereby feed the person rather than the microorganisms. My perspective has been that basic tenet. During that 12 years, I started carbohydrate chemisty a great deal. I learned about fructooligsaccharides before it was a "twinkle in the eyes" of the present day people who are hyping it. I knew it was indigestible and I knew it was quite suspicious as a compound to be ever used with SCD. When it first began to be hyped, a few of the very conscientious GI specialists called me and we discussed it and we agreed it was the last thing we should use. Then, of course, a group of researchers in Belgium (and I do not know who supported their research) came out and said how great FOS was to grow beneficial bacteria in the gut. I think I am one of the oldtimers who is looking at this (not for research paid by those with vested interest) but by basic understanding of the SCD and food. Each time I attend a conference (and I wasn't able to do this for the last two years with Herb and Alzheimer's) I would look for confirmation or contradiction of my understanding. In September of 1998, I was invited to participate in the SUSTAINABLE medicine conference at Christ Church, Oxford University sponsored by the Birtish Society of Sllergy, Evnironment and Nutrtional Medicine. Dr. Hugh Dunstan of the University of Newcaste of New South Wales, Australia presented work he had done which showed that in a medium containing FOS, the growth of Clostridium was huge far outgrowing other bacteria in FOS medium. No one questioned him except me. He scratched his head when I asked "why are the Clostridium growing at this exponential rate" and he laughed and said "we wondered about it too."

This is the problem: other than the Cornell study on grain-fed cows there is probably little scientific literature that supports anything but a money generating product. Please try and understand that this list and my book are phenomenae. Without Dini Petty, a few other brave media folk and the internet, all those on this list and thousands of others would be sick as dogs whereas now they have their lives back. I do not know what else to tell you.


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