lifestyle

Prebiotics: What Are They, Their Sources, and Benefits

A healthy gut paves the way for a healthy body. You may already be familiar with how probiotics can support your digestive health, but prebiotics are just as important.*

If you want to learn how to support your digestive tract and your healthy gut bacteria, you’re in the right place. In this article, we’ll discuss what prebiotics are, how they differ from probiotics, and the traditional health benefits that prebiotics can provide.*

What Are Prebiotics?

Prebiotics are a type of fiber that serves as food for the beneficial microorganisms in your digestive tract, which is also known as your gut.

To fully understand prebiotics, it’s helpful to first know a few things about your gut. It is full of microorganisms — such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses — often referred to by scientists as the human gut microbiota.1 

Human gut microbiota is also sometimes called the gut microbiome, intestinal flora, gut bacteria, or good bacteria. And they are, in fact, good. Very good. They can help you live a full, healthy, and vibrant life.

These good bacteria support your immune system, and some recent studies have suggested they may help combat inflammation and could be beneficial in warding off intestinal infections.They also play an important role in metabolizing nutrients.3

Simply put, prebiotics are what your good gut bacteria (your gut microbiome) need to thrive and keep you healthy. To help you understand this microorganism food even further, let’s go over the difference between probiotics and prebiotics.

Father and son in nature, eating foods with prebiotics

The Difference Between Probiotics and Prebiotics

Probiotics

Probiotics are living microorganisms. When you ingest probiotics, these new microorganisms are introduced into your system and join the other good bacteria you already have in your gut.4

Probiotics can be consumed through fermented foods like yogurt and kombucha or taken in supplement form.

Prebiotics

Prebiotics, on the other hand, provide the sustenance for the good bacteria that are already in your gut. They are non-digestible, which means they travel through your digestive tract unscathed so they can give your gut bacteria what they need to flourish.4

Prebiotics come from two sources: the foods you eat as well as dietary supplements.

Two Forms of Prebiotics

Prebiotic Foods

Example of prebiotic food

Fortunately, there are many foods that contain prebiotics. That means you can take your pick when it comes to consuming foods that will nourish and support your gut microbiota.

Here are some examples of beneficial foods that contain prebiotics:

  • Asparagus5
  • Garlic5
  • Onion5
  • Wheat5
  • Honey5
  • Banana4,5
  • Tomato5
  • Peas5
  • Beans5
  • Whole grains5
  • Jerusalem Artichokes5

Prebiotic Supplements

Microbiome Food

Your gut or microbiome contains hundreds of different probiotics, all of which have different nutritional needs.

The main benefit of a supplement — which contains a combination of prebiotic ingredients — is that it can support a broader range of healthy probiotics than a single food can. Supplements provide your gut with concentrated nourishment that you often cannot get from your diet alone.

We’re proud of what’s in our herbal supplements, such as our Microbiome Food®. One serving of Gaia Herbs Microbiome Food is chock-full of prebiotics.* It contains Larch, Acacia, Acerola, Inulin, Fenugreek, Cinnamon, Ginger, and Marshmallow.

We intentionally selected herbs for this formula that have been shown through research and traditional usage to support a healthy microbiome and digestive function by acting as food sources for beneficial bacteria.*

In particular, this formula contains clinically researched levels of Larch gum, which has shown promise in studies to activate the immune system during immune challenges.*

This plant-based prebiotic powder is easy to take with a delightful Cinnamon flavor and no added fillers, flavors, animal products, or sweeteners. Simply mix one teaspoon in four to six ounces of water and drink it once a day between meals. You can gradually increase this dose to one tablespoon daily.

Now that we’ve discussed the forms of prebiotics, let’s go over some of the benefits of providing your body with prebiotics as well as the positive aspects of choosing to take a prebiotic supplement.

Traditional Health Benefits of Prebiotics

Man hiking on a mountain

Prebiotics help your gut microbiome stay healthy, which is important for your overall health.* Remember a healthy gut is believed to support a healthy inflammatory response, allowing the immune system to keep running normally and delivering nutrients to fuel other bodily functions.*

Studies are still being done on all of the vast benefits of prebiotics, but here are a few noteworthy findings.

Georgie Stephen writes for the Healthful Clinic in Australia and notes that:

“If we have a thriving, healthy microbiome, the flow on effects of this are countless, including strong integrity of the gut lining, reduction of digestive discomfort, better immune defenses in both the gut and whole body, enhanced nervous system function, and lower levels of inflammation.”6

Another benefit of prebiotics is that negative side effects are minimal. Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D. says, “Side effects are rare, and most healthy adults can safely add foods that contain prebiotics and probiotics to their diets.”7

Learn more about your gut microbiome and related research findings in our article here.

Woman with hand on stomach

So, we now know that feeding your gut microbiome is essential and can be done through the foods you eat as well as supplements. But there are specific benefits of opting for a prebiotic supplement rather than simply counting on your food to nourish your gut microorganisms.

We’ll review some of the advantages of adding supplements — and, specifically, Gaia Herbs Microbiome Food — to your daily regimen.

Traditional Health Benefits of Prebiotic Supplements

An Easy Way to Consume A Potent Combination of Prebiotic Herbs & Ingredients*

As we mentioned earlier, one of the advantages of taking a prebiotic supplement is that many of them, like our Microbiome Food, are packed with potent blends of beneficial herbs and plants that you probably don’t get in your everyday diet.

This helps support the various nutritional needs of the many good bacteria in your gut.*

Can Soothe Digestive Upset*

A prebiotic supplement can also go a long way when it comes to supporting digestive health in general and keeping you feeling your best.*

In Gaia Herbs Microbiome Food, we included herbs that are traditionally used to soothe digestive upset — such as occasional gas, bloating, and cramping — including Fenugreek seed, Cinnamon bark, Ginger, and Marshmallow root.*

Fenugreek, Cinnamon bark, and Marshmallow root also provide a source of soothing fiber and food for healthy GI microorganisms.*

Additionally, these ingredients along with Acerola and Ginger, which are also included in our Microbiome Food formula, are important sources of antioxidant polyphenols for a healthy microbiome and intestinal environment.*

Supports Immune Response*

In addition to supporting your immune system through strengthening your gut microbiome, the right prebiotic supplement can also support your immune response in other ways.*

For example, the Acerola in our Microbiome Food is notable for being a significant natural source of vitamin C and other antioxidant compounds, such as carotenoids.* Vitamin C has long been used to help support immune defenses.*

With prebiotic supplements, you can continue living the life you love by maintaining a healthy gut and a thriving immune system.*

Easy to Take

Supplements are not a replacement for a healthy diet. However, there is something to be said about the simplicity of drinking your daily portion of prebiotics.

We recommend choosing a supplement that is quick and easy to take and provides you with a concentrated dose of gut-healthy prebiotics so you can get back to doing what you love.*

Gaia Herbs Microbiome Food powder is convenient to use and mixes easily in water. And even more important, this great-tasting powder blend is made without added fillers, flavors, or sweeteners.*

Prebiotics for Digestive Health

Woman drinking water outside after taking prebiotics

Prebiotics are the nourishment that your gut microorganisms need to thrive. And a healthy gut microbiome is an essential part of your overall health.*

Look for foods that contain prebiotics, such as asparagus, honey, whole grains, and bananas, and give your body the support it deserves with a prebiotic supplement, such as Gaia Herbs Microbiome Food.

Your gut (and your whole body) will thank you. 

REFERENCES:

1 Gut Bacteria in Health and Disease
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3983973/


2 6 Things You Should Know About Your Gut Bacteria
https://thewell.northwell.edu/well-informed/6-things-you-should-know-about-your-gut-bacteria

3 Can gut bacteria improve your health?
https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/can-gut-bacteria-improve-your-health#:~:text=Your%20gut%20microbiota%20plays%20many,microbiota%20may%20do%20much%20more

4 Prebiotics vs. Probiotics: What’s the Difference?
https://health.clevelandclinic.org/prebiotics-vs-probiotics-whats-the-difference/

5 Prebiotics: Definition, Types, Sources, Mechanisms, and Clinical Applications
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6463098/

6 Are prebiotics the new probiotics?
https://www.healthfulclinic.com.au/digestive-health/are-prebiotics-the-new-probiotics/

7 What are probiotics and prebiotics?
https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/expert-answers/probiotics/faq-20058065