What are galacto-oligosaccharides and what is their role?

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EUROSERUM markets a concentrate of galactooligosaccharides (GOS) for food applications. GOS are dairy fibers and belong to the prebiotics. What exactly is a prebiotic and a fiber? Let’s find out!

Did you know that fibre is a top 3 nutrients after vitamins and proteins?

According to market evaluation (Innova trends 2024), more and more fibre-enriched products are coming on the market, a response to the frequent deficiency in our daily intake. Find out why it's essential to include fibre in our diets and why they are more important across generations! 

What is a prebiotic?

A prebiotic is a non-digestible oligosaccharide. These compounds pass through the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract and help the growth of advantageous bacteria in the colon. Basically, it is food for beneficial micro-organisms. Finally, consuming prebiotics benefit the health of the host. (Ganzle et al.,2019).​ 

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Microbiota plays an essential role in health, and how fibers interact with it is fundamental.

But what exactly is microbiota?

It is defined by the variety of micro-organisms that live in a certain environment. For example, human microbiota includes all bacteria, viruses, fungi, etc. living in the body. These organisms live in different places, such as the mouth, skin and gut (INSERM, 2021). When we study the relationship between food and health, commonly known as nutrition, the microbiota is often involved. 

The notion itself is known by consumers: according to 2023 IPSOS and IMO surveys from 6,500 people across 7 countries, 21% of people knew what "microbiota" meant and 24% of respondents knew about “intestinal microbiota”.



Composition of whole milk
Dairy fibers are part of prebiotics

When it comes to fibers and prebiotics, one can quickly think of vegetal sources like FOS, inulin… Lactose from milk also provides fibers, these dairy fibers are called "Galactooligosaccharides" or "GOS".

Lactose is the main sugar of milk and forms a large part of milk dry matter. This lactose is composed of two molecules called galactose and glucose (see diagram*)​.  ​




GOS and FOS both have beneficial effects on health, and they complement each other (Macfarlane et al., 2007)​

*This disaccharide is the source of galacto-oligosaccharide production. ​SICAGOS is therefore a by-product.



How do we produce GOS?​

This lactose ingredient is put into contact with a specific enzyme that will dissociate the two sugar molecules that make up lactose; it will then repolymerize the glucose and galactose into a oligosaccharide chain.

Dairy Fibers can contribute to daily intake recommendations:

  The World Health Organization guideline includes recommendations on levels intake for fruits and vegetables as well as dietary fibers, as they all are public health issues. More precisely, daily fibre intake should be at least 25G; and ANSES (France) recommends 30G daily ​

  • Most of the population ingests less than 20G of fibre daily​
  • In France, for example, 89.7% of the adult population (18-54 years old) has a daily fibre intake of less than 25G
    (Santé Publique France, 2019) ​
  • A deficiency in fibre intake could be linked to colorectal cancers (CIRC, 2018), so increasing dietary fibers in current daily amount will contributes to metabolic health (Barber et al., 2020)​ 

SICAGOS is another source of fibre that can help achieve this goal​.

Thanks to its polymerisation of glucose and galactose, SICAGOS is considered a dairy fibre source, as it comprises more than 50% GOS (on dry matter).  

  • This is a comprehensive prebiotic for dairy matrices, as it can be considered a clean-label ingredient ​
  • With our dairy fiber SICAGOS, you can help to achieve 100% dairy ingredients in your nutritional dairy products! ​

Health benefits of prebiotics​

  • GOS induce a bifidogenic effect (Walton et al. 2012 ; Vulevic et al. 2015 ; Davani-Davari et al. 2019 ; Wilms et al. 2021) and facilitates digestive transit ​
  • GOS can increase bowel movement in the elderly (Teuri & Korpela, 1998,. Surakka et al. 2009). A SNFCP study in 2017 in France showed that 1/3 of people over 70 years old suffer from constipation.​

GOS also seem to have the ability to increase calcium ingestion by the organism (Van den Heuvel et al. 2000 ; Whisner et al. 2013

SICAGOS offers many advantages, both nutritional and functional, making a choice for a wide range of food applications.

Whether it involves developing cereal or protein bars, madeleines, gummies, yoghurts or dairy drinks, SICAGOS integrates perfectly into a variety of food recipes. ​

Euroserum is committed to helping product manufacturers make the most of this ingredient. 



If you have any questions about integrating SICAGOS into your formulations, our teams are available to provide assistance an expertise to ensure your products meet your needs!