Galactooligosaccharides are a type of carbohydrate and fiber known as prebiotics. Humans don’t digest fiber but the healthy bacteria in our gastrointestinal (GI) tracts do. In essence, prebiotics are food for our healthy gut bacteria.
Researchers randomly selected 419 college students to take a placebo pill (no prebiotics), or 2.5 or 5 grams per day of galactooligosaccharides for eight weeks, around the time of final exams. The students completed daily assessments of stress levels (presumably, exams supplied the stress), noting the frequency and severity of cold or flu symptoms, and they keeping a weekly journal of GI symptoms, such as diarrhea, constipation, and heartburn (reflux).
At completion of the study, the researchers noted that:
This study indicates that acute mental stress can increase GI and cold or flu symptoms. The results also suggest that supplementation with galactooligosaccharides may reduce these symptoms and the number of days with cold or flu. To protect your tummy, try the following:
(Am J Clin Nutr 2011; 93:1305–11)
Suzanne Dixon, MPH, MS, RD, an author, speaker, and internationally recognized expert in chronic disease prevention, epidemiology, and nutrition, has taught medical, nursing, public health, and alternative medicine coursework. She has delivered over 150 invited lectures to health professionals and consumers and is the creator of a nutrition website acclaimed by the New York Times and Time magazine. Suzanne received her training in epidemiology and nutrition at the University of Michigan, School of Public Health at Ann Arbor.
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