New Scientific Substantiation on the Benefits of Biotis™ GOS

Feb 14

Two recent scientific papers show that BiotisTM GOS is effective in increasing the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, which may have a positive impact on what we eat and how we feel.

It’s an incredibly exciting time to be involved in research in the area of the human microbiome and, specifically, the gut microbiota, the thousands of microbial species inhabiting our gastro-intestinal tract. While research addressing the gut microbiota dates back hundreds of years,1 there is still much to learn on what influences its composition and activity and the subsequent impact on our health and well-being.

New insights add up to our increased understanding of the close reciprocal interactions at various levels between the gut microbiota and the human host, including two recent studies by the University of Surrey, in close cooperation with FrieslandCampina Ingredients.

The research was aimed to address the following aspects:

  1. Does the daily consumption of Biotis™ GOS, a galacto-oligosaccharide prebiotic* ingredient, impact human gut microbiota composition and anxiety and mood measures in early adulthood.
  2. Does nutrient intake change during the 4-week intervention study.

Here, we’ll provide a summary of the findings and their relevance for consumers.

1. Does the consumption of Biotis™ GOS impact microbiota composition and anxiety and mood?

On average, 86% of consumers say they experience complaints such as feelings of stress, excessive worrying and the inability to relax.2 Among them, 65% of the respondents say they experience these feelings at least weekly, with 40% of Americans feeling stress daily.2 And, these people are looking for support—46% of those suffering from stress have made greater attempts to relax the last 12 months to address their complaints.2

Could the daily consumption of prebiotics*, such as Biotis™ GOS, influence anxiety and mood measures in early adulthood in humans? That is what the study aimed to investigate on basis of the experiences of 64 healthy women aged between 18 and 25 years who took part in the study.3


Why focus on this age group?

Early adolescence is known to be a time of rapid learning and brain development, including increased peer orientation, sensitivities to social evaluation, and risk-taking. It thus constitutes a period of vulnerability, but also opportunity. Puberty coincides with a growth in learning and ongoing brain maturation, resulting in the fine-tuning of dedicated functional and structural brain networks with long-term influences on the individual. Adolescence is thus a critical window and the gut microbiota helps in the fine-tuning through the so-called gut-brain axis. 

The focus of the study constituted one aspect of mental well-being, anxiety, as this affects 5-19% of all children and adolescents in the UK4 and an estimated 264 million adults worldwide.5 Early difficulties lead to problems with friendships and poorer educational attainment and are strong predictors of life-long mental health problems.


What were the results?

The study was designed as a double-blind placebo-controlled 4-week intervention study, with participants receiving either a daily dose of 5.5g of Biotis™ GOS or a placebo (maltodextrin). The key findings include:

  • The study showed that BiotisTM GOS intake impacted the gut microbiota composition in humans, especially with respect to increased beneficial Bifidobacterium
  • The participants that received BiotisTM GOS became less anxious, especially those that were high anxious.
  • The participants also showed a change in their overt behavioural response towards emotional stimuli.

Source: Adapted from Johnstone et al., 2021

As stated by the authors, this constituted the first well-controlled human study to demonstrate a clear link between GOS consumption, gut microbiota composition and mental well-being.

You can read the complete study here if you’d like to learn more.

2. Does the consumption of Biotis™ GOS impact nutrient intake?

Stress and anxiety have long been colloquially blamed for “comfort eating”, and there is growing evidence to support the influence of stress on unhealthy eating behaviours.6,7 Prebiotic supplementation may provide a way to influence unhealthy eating behaviours by down-regulating stress and anxiety.

In a follow-up analysis of the intervention study, the impact of the intervention on nutrient intake, based on comprehensive food diaries that were collected for nutrient analysis, was determined.8


What were the results?

The study found that participants who consumed BiotisTM GOS during four weeks consumed 4.1% less sugar and 4.3% fewer calories from carbohydrates overall than women from the placebo group. Participants who took BiotisTM GOS consumed around 4.2% more energy from fats.

The reduction in carbohydrates was predicted by increasing abundances of Bifidobacterium in the GOS group as compared to the placebo group.

This suggests that Bifidobacterium, as increased upon GOS supplementation, may help to improve gut microbiota composition, altering the desire for specific types of carbohydrates without compromising appetite for fiber from food.

In an accompanying press release on the University of Surrey website, Dr Nicola Johnstone, co-author of the study from the University of Surrey noted that the “research makes it clear that prebiotics* such as GOS are effective in increasing the growth of (specific) gut bacteria, and this may have a positive impact on what we eat and how we feel.”9

This is promising for designing individualized interventions to improve host health. While making food choices is complex, identifying strategies that lead to improved mental well-being would assist in making healthier decisions,  desirable particularly for young people, who are still undergoing significant developmental changes.10

You can read the complete study here if you’d like to learn more.

Arjen Nauta, Senior Scientist Gut and Digestive Health, FrieslandCampina Innovation Centre, and co-author of the two papers.

*The scientific definition of a prebiotic is “A substrate that is selectively utilized by host microorganisms conferring a health benefit.” Gibson, GR., et al. Expert consensus document: The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) consensus statement on the definition and scope of prebiotics. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2017 Aug;14(8): 491–502. Whether the claim prebiotic can be used on consumer products depends on local legislation.


  1. Eulàlia Farré-Maduell, Climent Casals-Pascual, The origins of gut microbiome research in Europe: From Escherich to Nissle, Human Microbiome Journal, Volume 14, 2019, 100065, ISSN 2452-2317,
  2. FrieslandCampina research through Zinklar, Q4 2021 (5 countries, n= 3,550)
  3. Johnstone et al. Anxiolytic effects of a galacto-oligosaccharides prebiotic in healthy females (18–25 years) with corresponding changes in gut bacterial composition. Sci Rep 11, 8302 (2021).
  4. NHS Inform, 2020
  5. World Health Organization, 2017
  6. Zellner, D.A.; Loaiza, S.; Gonzalez, Z.; Pita, J.; Morales, J.; Pecora, D.;Wolf, A. Food Selection Changes under Stress. Physiol. Behav.2006, 87, 789–793.
  7. Yau, Y.H.C.; Potenza, M.N. Stress and Eating Behaviors. Minerva Endocrinol. 2013, 38, 255–267.
  8. Johnstone et al. Nutrient Intake and Gut Microbial Genera Changes after a 4-Week Placebo Controlled Galacto-Oligosaccharides Intervention in Young Females. Nutrients 2021, 13, 4384.
  9. University of Surrey, 2021, Prebiotics supplements help women reduce sugar intake by four percent, finds study
  10. Cohen Kadosh, K.; Basso, M.; Knytl, P.; Johnstone, N.; Lau, J.Y.F.; Gibson, G.R. Psychobiotic Interventions for Anxiety in Young People: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis, with Youth Consultation. Transl. Psychiatry 2021, 11, 352.
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