The Natren Challenge

There are a lot of ways to communicate that you have a high quality product. One way is to charge a lot of money for it.

There are some probiotic vendors out there who are proud of their probiotic bacteria to the tune of $2.00 a capsule. $60 for a bottle of 30 capsules. Maybe you like to spend that kind of money. We're betting you don't. You shouldn't have to pay prescription drug prices for high quality probiotics.

We choose to pick on the Natren people because they do have some very high quality bacteria-only products that we think they charge way too much for .

The other reason we pick on Natren is because by our reckoning they can't have been reading the recent science papers regarding chicory FOS (fructooligosaccharides). Our read of their marketing materials leaves us thinking we all should be fearing that this bacteria fermenting sugar may not be good for us. The science we have been reading, (and share some of at the bottom of this page) has us believing just the opposite. FOS extracted from chicory roots may be the very best long term supplement to be using in order to maintain a rich flora of resident symbiotic bacterias. It seems quite clear to us that if what you really want is a probiotic full of fermenting bacteria, you want FOS and bacteria blended together.

Natren is so down on FOS, and so up on everyone taking their very expensive probiotics, every day, for life -- you'll have to draw your own conclusions.

It is not right for us to judge the hearts of others. But we can clearly express for ourselves regarding our fairly priced, high quality probiotics"we want to assist our customers in restoring and maintaining a healthy resident flora, and view our products as tools for achieving that goal."

Here is our "Natren Challenge":

Order one of our probiotic formulas blended with chicory FOS. After you receive it, send us in one of your empty $60 Natren bottles, or the empty bottle from any other probiotic that has no FOS for which you paid more than $50 for 30 capsules (along with proof of price), and a copy of your CFS Nutrition invoice.

We'll send you back a rebate check.

Here are the rebates (limit 1 per customer, this is a limited time offer):

CFS Nutrition Ecology Kit - $20 rebate

Feed 'n Seed™ Powder - $10 rebate

Feed 'n Seed™ Enteric Capsules - $10 rebate

We are confident that you are going to be doubly glad. Glad you listened to us and purchased our fermenting probiotic formula, and glad to receive your rebate as a reward for changing to a reasonably priced probiotic.


Jeff Clark
President, CFS Nutrition

Science Supporting Chicory FOS

Fructooligosaccharides and inulin, commonly known as FOS, are complex sugars found in most fruits and vegetables. Some plant materials such as onions and asparagus have relatively high contents. The roots of the hardy and prolific chicory plant have an especially high concentration of FOS which make them an attractive source for commercial refining of FOS.

It has been shown in humans and animals that supplementing with chicory FOS selectively ferments the resident lactobacillus and bifidobacterias significantly increasing their numbers at the expense of less desirable bacterias such as bacteroides. Administration of probiotics alone, and administration of probiotics with FOS both show comparable increase in desired bacterias in feces during the supplementation phase. However, after supplementation is stopped only the subjects given both probiotics and FOS continue to demonstrate the higher counts of desired bacterias.

More recent work done in the following article starts out on a new footing. These researchers have established the ability to ferment FOS as a defining attribute for a probiotic bacteria being suitable for recolonizing the intestinal tract, and hence inclusion in a probiotic formula.

Fermentation of fructooligosaccharides by lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria.
Appl Environ Microbiol 2000 Jun;66(6):2682-4

"Lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria were screened of their ability to ferment fructooligosaccharides (FOS) on MRS agar. Of 28 strains of lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria examined, 12 of 16 Lactobacillus strains and 7 of 8 Bifidobacterium strains fermented FOS. Only strains that gave a positive reaction by the agar method reached high cell densities in broth containing FOS."

"Recently, it has been suggested that the ability of probiotic bacteria to ferment oligosaccharides may be an especially important characteristic. This is because the availability of carbohydrates that escape metabolism and adsorption in the small intestine have a major influence on the microflora that become established in the colon".

In the next article the authors wanted to get a closer look at the selective fermenting dynamics of FOS on human bacterias as found in feces. They continually cultured with FOS and discovered that both lactobacillus and bifidobacteria selectively fermented the FOS and substantially grew in number relative to the other fecal bacterias. At the point that lactic acid dominated the Ph of the culture medium the preferential shift switched away from the bifidobacterias toward the lactobacillus. These findings are consistent with the observed stratification of lactobacillus being prevalent in the stomach and small intestine and bifidobacteria being prevalent in the colon.

Continuous culture selection of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli from human faecal samples using fructooligosaccharide as selective substrate.
J Appl Microbiol 1998 Oct;85(4):769-77

"The human large intestine contains a large and diverse population of bacteria. Certain genera, namely Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus, are thought to exert health-promoting effects. Prebiotics such as fructooligosaccharides (FOS) have been shown to stimulate the growth of endogenous bifidobacteria. In this study, changes of lactic acid producing bacteria in continuous culture fermentors (semi-defined, anaerobic medium containing 5 g 1(-1) FOS, dilution rate of 0.1 h-1, pH 5.5) were followed over a 21 d period after inoculation with blended human faeces from four healthy adults. Samples were also taken every 3 d for influent/effluent FOS, short chain fatty acid (SCFA), lactate and microbiological analyses. Results showed that SCFA concentrations decreased abruptly 1 d after inoculation while lactate concentrations increased. Classical methods of enumeration using selective media showed that the proportion of total culturable count represented by bifidobacteria and lactobacilli increased from 11.9% on day 1 to 98.1% on day 21. However, molecular methods using genus-specific 16S rRNA oligonucleotide probes indicated that the bifidobacterial population maintained a level between 10 and 20% of total 16S rRNA during the first 6 d and disappeared rapidly when the maximum concentration of lactate was reached. Lactobacilli, which were initially present in low numbers, increased until day 9 and remained at high levels (20-42% of total 16S rRNA) to day 21, with the exception of day 18. Although FOS has usually been regarded as a selective substrate for bifidobacteria, these observations suggest that: (1) lactobacilli are also able to use FOS, (2) lactobacilli can out-compete bifidobacteria in continuous culture at pH 5.2-5.4 when FOS is the primary carbon and energy source, and (3) bifidobacteria can grow faster on FOS than lactobacilli under controlled conditions."

The next article indicates that bifidobacterias are more tolerant of biles salts if they have usable carbohydrates available to them including FOS. As any oral probiotic administration requires that bifidobacteria pass through the small intestine where bile salts are most concentrated, this is an important point. Blending bifidobacteria with FOS is expected to increase the survivability of the bacteria in their travels to the colon where they are desired residents.

Effects of fructooligosaccharides and their monomeric components on bile salt resistance in three species of bifidobacteria.
J Appl Microbiol 2000 Jun;88(6):968-74

"The influence of fructooligosaccharides (FOS) and their monomeric components on bile salt resistance of Bifidobacterium breve ATCC 15700, Bif. longum ATCC 15707 and Bif. animalis ATCC 25527 was examined. The neosugars induced fructofuranosidase activities for the degradation of these saccharides. For the three strains tested the growth was identical and bile salts had the same inhibitory effect on growth whatever the carbohydrate used. The survival of Bif. breve and Bif. longum, in the presence of glycodeoxycholic acid depended, however, on carbohydrates: the toxic effects of the bile salt could be partly alleviated by the addition of a metabolizable C-source. For Bif. animalis, the presence of any carbohydrate in the incubation medium did not enhance the viability of the strain. But in the three deconjugating strains of bifidobacteria studied, the presence of neosugar during the growth led to improved resistance to the bactericidal effect of the bile salt compared with the monomeric components of these neosugars (glucose and fructose)."

In the next study we can begin to see the "proof is in the pudding". 34 grams of FOS is quite a lot to take at once and will cause gas in most people. Nonetheless, there is demonstrated a significant increase in bifidobacteria in humans as a result of feeding inulin, a constituent of FOS extracted from chicory roots.

Effects of inulin on faecal bifidobacteria in human subjects.
Br J Nutr 1999 Nov;82(5):375-82

"A controlled study with eight healthy free-living subjects was carried out, in which energy intake was adjusted to the individual energy requirements. On administration of inulin, blood lipids, the faecal microflora, short-chain fatty acids and accompanying gastrointestinal symptoms were characterized in order to investigate the long-term effect of inulin. During the run-in phase (8 d), subjects received a typical Western diet providing 45% energy as fat and 40% energy as carbohydrate. Subsequently, the subjects consumed a fat-reduced diet which provided 30% energy as fat and 55% energy as carbohydrate for a period of 64 d using inulin as a fat replacer. The amounts of inulin consumed by the subjects (up to 34 g/d) were based on individual energy requirements with the aim to keep the diet isoenergetic with that used in the run-in period. To assess the effects of inulin administration, a control study (run-in and intervention) was carried out in which subjects consumed the same diet but devoid of inulin during the whole course of the study. To investigate the effect of inulin on faecal flora composition total bacteria and bifidobacteria in the faeces were enumerated by in situ hybridization with 16S rRNA targeted oligonucleotide probes. Inulin significantly increased bifidobacteria from 9.8 to 11.0 log10/g dry faeces and caused a moderate increase in gastrointestinal symptoms such as flatulence and bloatedness, whereas blood lipids and short-chain fatty acids remained essentially unaffected."

In the next study we again see that FOS preferentially ferments and increases the resident friendly bacterias in the colon.

Dietary modulation of the human gut microflora using the prebiotics oligofructose and inulin.
J Nutr 1999 Jul;129(7 Suppl):1438S-41S

"Although largely unproven in humans, better resistance to pathogens, reduction in blood lipids, antitumor properties, hormonal regulation and immune stimulation may all be possible through gut microflora manipulation. One approach advocates the oral intake of live microorganisms (probiotics). Although the probiotic approach has been extensively used and advocated, survivability/viability after ingestion is difficult to guarantee and almost impossible to prove. The prebiotic concept dictates that non viable dietary components fortify certain components of the intestinal flora (e.g., bifidobacteria, lactobacilli). This concept has the advantage that survival of the ingested ingredient through the upper gastrointestinal tract is not a prerequisite because it is indigenous bacterial genera that are targeted. The feeding of oligofructose and inulin to human volunteers alters the gut flora composition in favor of bifidobacteria, a purportedly beneficial genus. Future human studies that exploit the use of modern molecular-based detection methods for bacteria will determine the efficacy of prebiotics. It may be possible to address prophylactically certain gastrointestinal complaints through the selective targeting of gut bacteria."

The next article raises the flag against simply taking FOS and forgetting the probiotics when a person is suffering from a dysbiosis. Though it is not objectively confirmed in this study, we suspect that "pseudohypolactasia" persons have a dysbiosis and likely at least in part a candida dysbiosis. We think this because all sugar sources gave this group of people intestinal problems even though they were in fact digesting lactose properly. Elsewhere we have found evidence that the undesirable bacteria Klebsiella can also utilize FOS for energy. Other studies not included in this review indicate that lactobacillus, bifidobacteria and other non-pathogenic bacterias create environments inhospitable to pathogenic bacterias by modifying Ph, emitting surficants that keep pathogens from binding to the epithlium, and compounds that are toxic to the undesired bacterias. We feel people with disbiosis should take a full course of probiotics with FOS before using straight FOS.

This study would have been much more informative if they had attempted to classify the flora of these groups before subjecting them to the different sugars. These researchers also verify that 25 grams of FOS taken in a single dose will cause gas in almost anyone. We recommend taking FOS by the single teaspoon which weighs 5 grams.

Fructooligosaccharides and lactulose cause more symptoms in lactose maldigesters and subjects with pseudohypolactasia than in control lactose digesters.
Am J Clin Nutr 1999 May;69(5):973-9

"BACKGROUND: Many lactose maldigesters tolerate more lactose in experimental studies than in everyday life, in which their symptoms may result from other carbohydrates as well. OBJECTIVE: The question of whether the symptoms caused by large quantities of carbohydrates are more severe in lactose maldigesters than in control lactose digesters or in lactose digesters who report milk to be the cause of their gastrointestinal symptoms (pseudohypolactasic subjects) was studied in a randomized, double-blind, crossover study. Comparisons between commonly used diagnostic methods for lactose maldigestion were also made. DESIGN: The subjects were 40 women aged 20-63 y from 3 groups: lactose maldigesters (n = 12), pseudohypolactasic subjects (n = 15), and control lactose digesters (n = 13). The subjects were given either 50 g lactose, 50 g sucrose, 25 g lactulose, or 25 g fructooligosaccharides. After carbohydrate ingestion, urine was collected and the breath-hydrogen concentration was measured every 30 min for 3 h. Blood glucose was measured every 20 min for 1 h and subjective gastrointestinal symptoms were monitored for 8 h with a questionnaire. RESULTS: When lactulose and fructooligosaccharides were ingested, the lactose maldigesters (P = 0.04 and 0.09, respectively) and the pseudohypolactasic subjects (P = 0.006 and 0.01, respectively) reported more symptoms than did the control lactose digesters. Sucrose caused more symptoms in the lactose maldigesters than in the control lactose digesters (P = 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: Lactose maldigesters and lactose digesters with pseudohypolactasia experience more symptoms than control lactose digesters after a single intake of large amounts of indigestible carbohydrates. Lactose maldigesters also experience more symptoms after ingesting sucrose."

The next study is a side by side trial of probiotics, FOS, and probiotics blended with FOS in preventing colon cancer in cancer induced animals. Mixing bifidobacteria with FOS was the only combination that produced significant improvement over controls. Other complex carbohydtrates did not produce as clear a result as FOS.

The effect of synbiotics on colon carcinogenesis in rats.
J Nutr 1999 Jul;129(7 Suppl):1483S-7S

"Evidence indicates that consumption of probiotic microorganisms such as bifidobacteria reduces the risk of colon cancer in animal models. Feeding certain fructans such as oligofructose and inulin, which are thought to selectively increase the growth of intestinal bifidobacteria (i.e., a prebiotic effect), also has been shown to reduce colon cancer risk. The objective of our study was twofold, i. e., to determine whether the combination of bifidobacteria and oligofructose would have an additive effect (i.e., synbiotic) in reducing colon cancer risk in rats, and to determine whether other oligosaccharides would also be effective as part of a synbiotic combination. The development of colonic preneoplastic lesions (aberrant crypts) was used as an index of colon cancer risk. In one series of experiments, rats were given the carcinogen 1, 2-dimethylhydrazine (DMH) and administered one of the following treatments: skim milk (control), bifidobacteria (bifido), oligofructose (OF) or bifido + OF. Neither bifido nor OF alone significantly reduced aberrant crypt number. Bifido + OF reduced aberrant crypt number in five of six experiments, although the reduction was significant in only one. However, a paired comparison of the six experiments indicated a significant overall reduction in aberrant crypts by bifido + OF (P = 0.039). Soybean oligosaccharide (SBO) and wheat bran oligosaccharide (WBO) were also fed in combination with bifidobacteria. In two other experiments, SBO did not alter the number of aberrant crypts compared with the control, whereas WBO reduced aberrant crypt number in one experiment but not in another. Of OF, SBO and WBO, only SBO reduced the colonic mucosa proliferation compared with the control. These results suggest that the combination of bifidobacteria and oligofructose reduces colon cancer risk in carcinogen-treated rats, but the effect of other oligosaccharides is uncertain."

In the next study a blend of lactobacillus and FOS made a significant transformation of bacterias in piglets compared to controls and compared to piglets given just the bacteria.

Study of the effect of Lactobacillus paracasei and fructooligosaccharides on the faecal microflora in weanling piglets.
Berl Munch Tierarztl Wochenschr 1999 Jun-Jul;112(6-7):225-8

"The influence of administration of Lactobacillus paracasei alone and mixture of Lactobacillus paracasei and fructooligosaccharide on faecal bacteria counts in the weanling pigs was investigated. The administration of Lactobacillus paracasei alone significantly decreased Clostridium (p < 0.05) and Enterobacteriaceae (p < 0.05) counts as compared to the control. Lactobacillus paracasei administered in combination with fructooligosaccharide significantly increased Lactobacillus (p < 0.01-p < 0.05), Bifidobacterium (p < 0.05), total anaerobes (p < 0.05), and total aerobes (p < 0.05) counts compared to control group as well as Lactobacillus paracasei group and significantly decreased Clostridium (p < 0.05) and Enterobacteriaceae (p < 0.01) counts compared to control group. The results obtained point out to a synergic effect of the combination of Lactobacillus paracasei and fructooligosaccharide on numbers of bacterial populations observed in the faeces of the weanling pigs."

What you really want from a probiotic formula is not just a bunch of friendly bacteria. You want a bunch of fermenting friendly bacterias. Fermentation produces significantly more viable bacterias, short chain fatty acids, vitamins such as biotin, and other products that exclude pathogenic organisms from the ecosystem.

The high priced probiotics supply you with seed bacteria only. CFS Nutrition probiotic formulas supply you with a fermenting culture mix we heartily enjoy calling Feed 'n Seed™.

"Feed 'n Seed" is a trademark of CFS Nutrition

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