Today is part IV oligosaccharides in the saccharides series.

In case you missed the others:

And today? Oligosaccharides (from the Greek oligos, a few, and sacchar, sugar).

Oligosaccharides {Part IV}

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Oligosaccharides #oligosaccharides #guthealth

This is where things start to complicate. Like everything else in life, with complication brings…..complication.

We no longer have nice, linear-structure “rings.” The oligosaccharides look similar to this:

Part IV Oligosaccharides Saccharide Series

When I think of oligosaccharides, the main thing that comes to mind initially –> FODMAPs.

FODMAP stands for:

Oligosaccharides (eg. Fructans and Galactans)
Disaccharides (eg. Lactose)Monosaccharides (eg. excess Fructose)
Polyols (eg. Sorbitol, Mannitol, Maltitol, Xylitol and Isomalt)

Oligosaccharides are a part of this equation.

Fructans and galactans are examples, as they are the most common.


Fructans (FOS) are a concern for those with IBS and IBD because “in the colon they are fermented by anaerobic bacteria. In other words, they have a lower caloric value, while contributing to the dietary fiber fraction of the diet.”

Furthermore, “FOS are also fermented by numerous bacterial species in the intestine, including Klebsiella, E. coli and many Clostridium species, which are considered less-friendly bacteria in the gut. These species are responsible mainly for the gas formation (hydrogen and carbon dioxide), which results after ingestion of FOS.”

The real reason I decided to do the “Saccharide Series” is because of that “tipping point” I told you I had recently.

This tipping point includes a specific oligosaccharide. It goes by the name: Raffinose.


Like clockwork, nearly every time I eat Brussels sprouts, cabbage (or any of those in the family) or broccoli, my stomach becomes upset.

I continue to eat them because they are good for us (and more importantly because I looooooove them), but I couldn’t continue eating them without investigating why the hell they hate me so much.

Raffinose is in the oligosaccharide family.

It is a “trisaccharide composed of galactose, fructose, and glucose.” The problem with anything which is a raffinose is that they can only be digested by an enzyme which the human body does not contain.

This ultimately means that, “these oligosaccharides pass undigested through the stomach and upper intestine. In the lower intestine, they are fermented by gas-producing bacteria which do possess the α-GAL enzyme and make carbon dioxide, methane, and/or hydrogen—leading to the flatulence commonly associated with eating beans and other vegetables. α-GAL is present in digestive aids such as the product Beano.”


There could be an entire week’s worth of blog posts on oligosaccharides since clearly, so many things make them up.

Most of you will naturally benefit from and gravitate towards the information on fructans and raffinose.

The bottom line is that healthy isn’t always black and white, especially for those of you with IBS and IBD. Many foods which are “healthy” are comprised of structures and enzymes we simply cannot break down.

What the body doesn’t use will manifest negatively in the Gutsy stomach.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy?

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  1. Most interesting science “class” ever! 😉

    Although I don’t think I could ever get rid of garlic, leeks, Brussels sprouts, eggplant, etc!! They are just too YUMMY 🙂

    1. TRUST ME, I don’t give them up completely. I just know that if I go overboard I have GRUMP nation coming:)

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