Isomalto-Oligosaccharides (IMO)

Isomalto-Oligosaccharides (IMO) are prebiotic fibers found in natural sources, however in insufficient concentration for all prebiotic effects [1][2]. NATVIE Healthcare uses Isomalto-Oligosaccharides (IMO) in its products, produced by enzymatic biosynthesis of cornstarch, allowing a maximum concentration of at least 90%.

IMO are carbohydrates which are classified as non-digestible oligosaccharide (NDO) [3]. NDOs constitute one of the most important ingredients in foods, providing not only important nutritional value and organoleptic quality but also functional properties beneficial to human health and well-being [4].

IMO are not digested by human enzymes but fermented by the probiotics of the large intestine, selectively supporting the growth mostly of Bifidobacterium [5][19]. Additional positive effects are increasing the abundance of beneficial bacteria Akkermansia muciniphila and Roseburia [25], and also decreasing pathogenic Clostridium difficile [18][19]. Fermentation of IMO results in multiple groups of metabolites (of which short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) are the major group), and mostly increased acetate and propionate production [18]. SCFAs play a crucial role in human health [7].

IMO benefits:

Modulation of gastrointestinal microbiota, stimulation of probiotic growth [8]

Decreased intestinal pH [9]

Increase levels of SCFAs [9]

Inhibition of pathogens in the intestinal flora [10][18][19]

Decreased levels of serum cholesterol, triacylglycerols and phospholipids [18][20][23]

Improved mineral and vitamin absorption [10][20]

Prevention of intestinal infection and extra intestinal infections [9][10]

Optimization of colonic function and metabolism, reduces nitrogenated products [22]

Decreased the concentrations of serum D-lactate (D-LA) and lipopolysaccharides (LPS) [18]

Reduce the effects of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) [21]

Therapeutic potential in the management of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) [21]

Improve gastroesophageal reflux symptoms [21]

Stimulate the secretion of gut incretin hormones [21]

Decrease the risk of cardiovascular diseases [21]

Decrease the risk of colon and breast cancer [21]

Stimulate intestinal and systemic immunity via a shift in the Th1/Th2 balance towards Th1-dominant immunity. [24]


[1] Health Effects and Sources of Prebiotic Dietary Fiber; Current Developments in Nutrition, Volume 2, Issue 3, March 2018

[2] Prebiotics: Definition, Types, Sources, Mechanisms, and Clinical Applications; Foods 2019, 8(3), 92; Probiotics and Functional Foods

[3] Neuroprotective Potential of Non-Digestible Oligosaccharides: An Overview of Experimental Evidence, Frontiers in Pharmacology, 23 August 2021

[4] Food Oligosaccharides. Production, Analysis and Bioactivity by F. Javier Moreno and María Luz Sanz, Preface; May 2014

[5] Antioxidant Vitamins and Prebiotic FOS and XOS Differentially Shift Microbiota Composition and Function and Improve Intestinal Epithelial Barrier In Vitro; Nutrients 2021, 13(4), 1125; Micronutrients and Human Health

[7] Short-chain fatty acids activate acetyltransferase p300; eLife 2021;10:e72171

[8] Impaired barrier function by dietary fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) in rats is accompanied by increased colonic mitochondrial gene expression, BMC Genomics Published online 2008 Mar 27

[9] Saad N, Delattre C, Urdaci M, Schmitter J M, Bressollier P. An overview of the last advances in probiotic and prebiotic field. LWT – Food Science and Technology. 2013;50:1-16.

[10] Charalampopoulos D, Rastall R A. Prebiotics in foods. Current Opinion in Biotechnology. 2012;23:187-191.

[18] Long-term supplementation of isomalto-oligosaccharides improved colonic microflora profile, bowel function, and blood cholesterol levels in constipated elderly people—A placebo-controlled, diet-controlled trial by Yen C, Tseng Y, Kuo Y, Lee M, Chen H; Nutrition. 2011;27(4):445-450.

[19] Next-generation prebiotic promotes selective growth of bifidobacteria, suppressing Clostridioides difficile; Gut Microbes, Jan-Dec 2021;13(1):1973835.

[20] Functional Oligosaccharides: Chemicals Structure, Manufacturing, Health Benefits, Applications and Regulations by Osama O. Ibrahim; Functional Oligosaccharides: Chemicals Structure, Manufacturing, Health Benefits, Applications and Regulations; Journal of Food Chemistry & Nanotechnology

[21] Probiotics, Prebiotics and Synbiotics: Technological Advancements Towards Safety and Industrial Applications by Parmjit Singh Panesar, Anil Kumar Anal; Chapter 15:Isomaltooligosaccharides as Prebiotics and their Health Benefits, Page:371, 15.4 Health Benefits of IMO

[22] Patel S, Goyal A. Functional oligosaccharides: production, properties and applications. World Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology. 2011;27:1119-1128.

[23] Wang HF, Lim P-S, Kao MD, et al. (2011) Use of isomalto-oligosaccharide in the treatment of lipid profiles and constipation in hemodialysis patients. J Renal Nutr 11: 73–79.

[24] Isomalto-Oligosaccharides Polarize Th1-Like Responses in Intestinal and Systemic Immunity in Mice by Hiroyuki Mizubuchi, Toshiki Yajima, Noriaki Aoi, Tetsuji Tomita, Yasunobu Yoshikai; The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 135, Issue 12, December 2005, Pages 2857–2861,

[25] Probiotics and Prebiotics in Foods, Challenges, Innovations, and Advances by Roberto de Paula do Nascimento, Mario Roberto Marostica Junior; 2021, Pages 13-46, Chapter 2 – Emerging Prebiotics: Nutritional and Technological Considerations