Galactooligosaccharides (GOS)

Galactooligosaccharides (GOS) are an important group of prebiotics that play a role especially in infant nutrition. GOS are short-chain carbohydrates made up of galactose units, produced by the enzymatic conversion of lactose, the main sugar in milk.

The function of GOS as prebiotics lies in the fact that, similar to fructooligosaccharides (FOS), they cannot be broken down by human digestive enzymes. Instead, they serve as a food source for beneficial gut bacteria, especially for Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli. This selective promotion of good bacteria contributes to maintaining a healthy balance in the microbiome and supports overall gut health.

In infant nutrition, GOS is often used in formulations for infant formula to mimic the positive properties of breast milk. Breast milk contains natural oligosaccharides, especially HMOs (human milk oligosaccharides), which have a prebiotic effect and strengthen the infant's immune system. GOS in infant formulas aim to replicate these aspects at least partially by promoting a healthy microbiome and contributing to the strengthening of the immune system.

Moreover, there is evidence that GOS in infant nutrition can be helpful in alleviating digestive problems such as constipation and improving bowel function. They help create an environment that resembles the natural microbiome of breastfed infants.

However, it is important to emphasize that, although GOS can offer benefits for gut health, breast milk remains the optimal nutrition source for infants. It provides not only HMOs but also a variety of other essential nutrients and immunological factors crucial for the infant's development. GOS in infant formulas are a supplement to improve the nutrition of non-breastfed infants but cannot completely replace breast milk.