A study of fructo oligosaccharides in the prevention of travellers' diarrhoea.Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2001 Aug; 15(8):1139-45.AP
Prebiotic carbohydrates selectively stimulate the growth of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli in the human colon. These bacteria form part of the gut's inherent defence against invading pathogens.
To test the effectiveness of fructo oligosaccharides in preventing travellers' diarrhoea.
A total of 244 healthy subjects, travelling to high and medium risk destinations for travellers' diarrhoea, took part in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. The protocol comprised a preliminary week for recording bowel habit by diary, a 2-week pre-holiday period with the diary and consumption of 10 g of fructo oligosaccharides or placebo daily, followed by a 2-week holiday with continuation of treatment and diary. A post-study questionnaire was completed by all subjects on their return to the UK.
The consumption of fructo oligosaccharides led to a small (6%; P < 0.02) increase in stool frequency in the pre-holiday period and gave a significantly better sense of 'well-being' during the holiday, although subjects reported more flatulence. There were non-significant decreases in episodes of diarrhoea with 20% on placebo and 11% on fructo oligosaccharides recording episodes in the post-study questionnaire (P=0.08) and 46% placebo, 38% fructo oligosaccharides recording episodes in the diary (P > 0.1). No change in bowel frequency, consistency or stool size was recorded.
Travel to high risk areas increases diarrhoea. Fructo oligosaccharides alone are not sufficient to prevent this, although do have some benefits for the subjects.