Alpha-GOS® ; Prebiotic

Alpha-GOS®: A Hypo-Allergenic Prebiotic

Posted Ramona Richard, MS, NC Blog

The Origins & Development of Alpha-GOS® as a Prebiotic

The French company, Olygose, has developed a type of GOS called Alpha-GOS®. Previously, this compound was a byproduct of pea protein production. After research was conducted on the effectiveness of GOS as a prebiotic, Olygose began to produce Alpha-GOS® intentionally. Alpha-GOS® is produced from peas sourced from local farmers in France and, because this type of GOS is not isolated from dairy, it is completely hypo-allergenic.[8]

Alpha-GOS® is composed of galactose sugars linked by α-1,6 glycosidic bonds.[9] These bonds are broken down by an enzyme called α-galactosidase, which humans can’t produce. Thus, Alpha-GOS® passes through the upper digestive tract without being hydrolyzed.[10] Additionally, while Alpha-GOS® is a type of sugar, it has no influence on blood sugar or insulin production, making it completely safe for individuals with hypo/hyperglycemia, diabetes, insulin resistance, or other blood sugar pathologies.[11] A long-term study on high-dosage Alpha-GOS® supplementation in mice found no negative side effects of the prebiotic whatsoever.[12]

Prebiotics| What are Prebiotics? How do they work?

Researchers are finding increasingly more information about the huge influence of gut flora on major bodily functions. Probiotic supplementation has become a popular, safe, and effective way to improve overall health.

Probiotics are ingestible bacteria which improve intestinal balance, modulate immune function, produce compounds with systemic effects, and convey some benefit to the host.[1] Bacteria naturally colonize the human gastrointestinal tract, and many researchers are seeking ways to modulate the bacterial composition within the gut to produce desired health outcomes. The harsh environment of the upper digestive tract is one of the major obstacles in modifying gut flora composition. Stomach acid functions to kill off pathogens such as bacteria, which can make it difficult to formulate effective probiotics.[2] The most operative probiotic formulas must not only be able to survive transit through the digestive tract, they must then be able to colonize in the small and large intestines.

Prebiotics have thus become a major component of effective probiotic formulas. Prebiotics are non-digestible food constituents that stimulate the growth or activity of certain bacteria in the colon, and thus convey a benefit to the host.[3]

What are Oligosaccharides?

Many studies and anecdotal evidence suggest that breast-fed babies generally have better health outcomes than formula-fed babies. In attempting to determine potential causes of this discrepancy, researchers have found that breast milk contains oligosaccharides which act as prebiotics.[4]

Stool samples from breast-fed babies show higher concentrations of beneficial Bifidobacteria species than stool samples from formula-fed or cow’s milk-fed babies.[5] Researchers found that galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) in the mother’s breast milk functions to protect babies from infection and promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria.[6] GOS is also found in nature as a compound synthesized by many plants.

Raffinose family oligosaccharides (RFOs), the larger group of carbohydrates that GOS is classified in, function to protect plant embryos, aid in cell signaling, and help plant tissues survive in harsh environments.[7] Isolation and synthesis of GOS and other RFOs has become an area of focus in the creation of probiotic and prebiotic formulas.

Benefits of Alpha-GOS®

There are several known ways in which Alpha-GOS® and other similar GOS compounds are known to impact human health. GOS fermentation in the large intestine produces butyrate and propionate, both of which are beneficial to host immune function.[13] Propionate has even been shown to be anti-inflammatory to human colon cancer cells.[14]

Alpha-GOS® also aids in producing short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which are associated with reduced cancer risk, improved bowel movements, reduced inflammation from IBD, and increased mineral absorption.[15] As a prebiotic, Alpha-GOS® suppresses growth of the harmful bacteria Clostridium, and promotes growth of the beneficial bacteria Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus.[16]

Thus, including Alpha-GOS® in probiotic formulas is a safe and effective way to promote beneficial gut flora and improve overall health. For more information on Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus, see Sanesco’s blog post on these two bacteria and their impact on human health.


[1] Guo, M., Wu, F., Hao, G., Qi, Q., Li, R., Li, N., … Chai, T. (2017). Bacillus subtilis Improves Immunity and Disease Resistance in Rabbits. Frontiers in Immunology, 8, 354.

[2] Guo, Ibid.

[3] Martinez-Villaluenga, C., Frias, J., & Vidal-Valverde, C. (2008). Alpha-galactosides: antinutritional factors or functional ingredients?. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition, 48(4), 301-316.

[4] Macfarlane, G. T., Steed, H., & Macfarlane, S. (2008). Bacterial metabolism and health‐related effects of galacto‐oligosaccharides and other prebiotics. Journal of applied microbiology, 104(2), 305-344.

[5] Macfarlane, Ibid.

[6] Haarman, M., & Knol, J. (2005). Quantitative real-time PCR assays to identify and quantify fecal Bifidobacterium species in infants receiving a prebiotic infant formula. Applied and environmental microbiology, 71(5), 2318-2324.

[7] Martinez-Villaluenga, op. cit.

[8] AlphaGOS. (n.d.). Retrieved July 11, 2017, from

[9] AlphaGOS, Ibid.

[10] Kruger, C., Beauchamp, N., Modeste, V., Morel-Despeisse, F., & Chappuis, E. (2017). Toxicological evaluation of alpha-galacto-oligosaccharides shows no adverse effects over a 90-day study in rats. Toxicology Research and Application, 1, 2397847317716402.

[11] AlphaGOS, op. cit.

[12] Kruger, op. cit.

[13] Sangwan, V., Tomar, S. K., Singh, R. R. B., Singh, A. K., & Ali, B. (2011). Galactooligosaccharides: novel components of designer foods. Journal of food science, 76(4).

[14] Nurmi, J. T., Puolakkainen, P. A., & Rautonen, N. E. (2005). Bifidobacterium Lactis sp. 420 up-regulates cyclooxygenase (Cox)-1 and down-regulates Cox-2 gene expression in a Caco-2 cell culture model. Nutrition and cancer, 51(1), 83-92.

[15] Sangwan, op. cit.

[16] Kruger, op. cit.

Clinical Contributor

Sophie Thompson

Sophie Thompson

Clinical Support Intern at Sanesco Health
Sophie recently obtained her degree in Biology from UNCA in Asheville. Born and raised in Asheville, her hobbies include painting, writing and spending quality time with her dog and her family.
Sophie Thompson

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    Disclaimer: The information provided is only intended to be general educational information to the public. It does not constitute medical advice. If you have specific questions about any medical matter or if you are suffering from any medical condition, you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.