What are prebiotics?
Prebiotics are the food that “good” bacteria feed on to thrive and grow in your gut. These “good” bacteria support many different health benefits.
The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) defines prebiotics as “substrates that are selectively utilized by host microorganisms confirming a health benefit.1
What types of prebiotics are there?
There are a number of different types of prebiotics. What’s most important to know, though, is that different prebiotics come from different sources and some work better than others with the specific types of “good” bacteria in your gut.
The best known prebiotics are oligosaccharides that include Xylooligosaccharides (XOS Prebiotic), Fructooligosaccharides, Inulin, and Galactooligosaccharides. Resistant starch and Isomaltooligosaccharides are also gaining recognition.
Are prebiotics safe?
Yes, prebiotics are safe when used as directed. Infants consume prebiotics naturally found in breast milk. Beyond infancy, prebiotics have been part of our diet ever since humans have been consuming grains, fruits and vegetables. However, in order to increase your prebiotic intake to recommended amounts, you may want to include a daily prebiotic supplement. Make sure you talk to your doctor, dietitian, or health care professional before you start any supplement and always follow label instructions for use.
Are there any adverse effects from consuming prebiotics?
It’s always important to consider and understand the clinically effective dose for the type of prebiotic you decide to use. Certain prebiotics need to be taken in high doses in supplements or functional foods to be effective, and these doses may be associated with digestive discomfort, like bloating or gas. Other prebiotics, for example xylooligosaccharides, are more selective and effective at a lower dose, and are thus well tolerated.
How do I know if I need to take a prebiotic?
Scientific evidence provides clear information that everyone can benefit from including more prebiotics in their diet. In fact, based on current dietary habits, most people do not get enough prebiotics in their daily diet because they are not present in high amounts in food sources. Adding fortified foods or a daily prebiotic supplement can help increase the amount of prebiotics you consume.
What is the difference between prebiotics and probiotics?
Prebiotics are food that probiotics and our own body’s beneficial bacteria selectively use to provide a positive health outcome. Probiotics are what we consume to replenish specific “good” bacteria.
Can prebiotics and probiotics be used together?
Yes. Prebiotics and probiotics work together, and when you use the right prebiotics, they help to boost the effectiveness of your probiotics.
How much prebiotic should I consume?
The amount of prebiotic you consume depends on the type of prebiotic you’re using and the health benefits you hope to gain or sustain. The International Life Science Institute in Europe recommends up to 20 grams per day.2 The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics recommends you get at least 5 grams of prebiotics in your diet every day.3
Where can you get prebiotics?
Prebiotics are already in some of the foods you may be eating. High fiber, nutrient-dense foods may contain prebiotics. However, you’d have to eat a lot of these foods to get an effective amount. Leading organizations recommend 2-20 grams of prebiotics daily.45 Most people won’t consume enough prebiotics through foods alone. To increase your intake, include prebiotic supplements or foods & beverages fortified with prebiotics as part of your daily diet.
What foods contain prebiotics?