What Are Prebiotics?

“Gut microbiota” refers to the trillions of microorganisms that live in your gastrointestinal tract and make up your gut microbiome. Your large intestine is the home to the majority of these microorganisms. They carry out functions that are essential to overall health, including nutrient metabolism and regulation of the immune system. Your gut microbiota can even influence disease risk, including the risk of developing colon cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, and type 2 diabetes.

Diet and lifestyle factors significantly impact the diversity and types of microorganisms that live in your gut. Prebiotics are essential to a healthy microbiome. In simple terms, they are nutrients that get broken down by gut bacteria. Bacteria in the large intestine ferment prebiotics. This releases byproducts called short-chain fatty acids. These byproducts act as energy sources for the cells and benefit health in many other ways.

In order for a compound to be classified as a prebiotic, it needs to:

• resist stomach acid and digestive enzymes, plus should not be absorbed in the GI tract • be able to be fermented by intestinal microbes • stimulate the growth or activity of intestinal bacteria to improve health.

Where do you find prebiotics?

Prebiotics exist naturally in some foods, including: • asparagus • artichoke • onions and leeks • tomatoes • garlic • oats • honey • wheat, barley, and rye • peas • beans • chia seeds • seaweed • chicory • dandelion greens


Prebiotics may benefit health in the following ways. • May reduce markers of inflammation. A 2017 review found that 14 out of the 29 included prebiotic studies reported a significant decrease in 1 or more markers of systemic inflammation.

May reduce appetite and cravings. Some studies have found that supplementing with prebiotics may reduce appetite and cravings for specific foods, like sugary foods.

May help reduce body fat. A 2021 review that included 27 studies concluded that probiotics and prebiotics, may aid in weight loss and fat loss in people with overweight or obesity.

Remember that there are many other potential benefits related to prebiotics additionally to the ones mentioned above.