Prebiotics What are They

The health benefits and potential side effects:

Prebiotics are plant fibers that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the digestive system. They are composed of complex carbohydrates and fiber that your body cannot digest. Prebiotics are found in foods such as garlic and asparagus as well as in prebiotic supplements.

Prebiotics stimulate the growth of bacteria such as Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium. This can help to improve digestion, ease constipation, and increase mineral absorption. They also regulate cholesterol and strengthen your immune system.

Probiotics are different from prebiotics which are food or supplements that provide healthy bacteria to your stomach, digestive tract, and intestine.

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Prebiotics: Health Benefits

Prebiotics are plant-based food components that cannot be digested. They are then degraded by the healthy bacteria in your small intestine. They are “good” bacteria that your body requires to digest food, and they also control “bad” yeast or bacteria.

Two of the most important prebiotics for human health are:

Fructo-oligosaccharides are found in plants such as onion, chicory, garlic, asparagus, banana, and artichoke.

Galacto-oligosaccharides are found in beans and certain root vegetables.

Prebiotics have been shown to improve digestion, calcium absorption and immune function. They may also lower cholesterol, reduce allergic conditions, improve brain functions, and reduce colon cancer risk.

Prebiotics for Digestive Disorders

Researchers have suggested that prebiotics could play a part in treating irritable intestinal syndrome (IBS), and inflammatory colon disease (IBD). The results of studies to date are mixed.

In 2013, a study found that prebiotics may worsen IBS symptoms. Many prebiotics contain prominent levels of carbohydrates called FODMAPs, which are fermentable oligosaccharides disaccharides monosaccharides and polyols. These carbs can cause IBS symptoms like gas, bloating and abdominal pain as they break down and ferment.

IBD, or Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, is marked by an absence of healthy gut bacteria. Some studies suggest that prebiotics, particularly fructan-oligosaccharides, can help ease gut inflammation and IBD symptoms.

Prebiotics have been shown to be effective and safe in the prevention of Clostridium difficile associated diarrhea. This is commonly linked with recent hospitalization or antibiotic use.

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Side effects of prebiotics

Prebiotics are generally safe to consume. Side effects are usually mild.



Abdominal discomfort

As your digestive system adjusts to the new intestinal environment, these side effects will usually subside.


Prebiotics can be obtained by most people by eating the recommended amount of fiber per day (between 25 and 38 grams). This goal is best achieved by eating whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

Prebiotics are usually taken in doses of four to five grammes per day. Start slowly and see how your body responds to a prebiotic. If you experience gas or bloating, reduce the dosage.

What is Synbiotic Therapy?

Synbiotic therapy combines prebiotics with probiotics. Prebiotics help to maintain probiotic levels because probiotics have a short lifespan.

Prebiotic Foods

Prebiotics can be found in foods, which also provide essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Prebiotic foods include.


Chicory root



Jerusalem artichoke

Legumes include beans, chickpeas, and lentils.

Nuts, such as cashews or pistachios.

Onions, leeks, and shallots

Wheat products (such a cereals and bread)

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Prebiotic Supplements

If you are thinking about taking a prebiotic supplement, check the label to ensure it contains fructan-oligosaccharides and/or galacto-oligosaccharides.

Speak to your healthcare provider before starting any treatment. This will ensure it is safe for you, based on the medical conditions that you have and the drugs that are taken.