Prebiotics are a type of fiber that is indigestible and that serves as food for probiotics, which are microorganisms, including bacteria and yeast. Both prebiotics and probiotics can support favorable bacteria and other organisms in the gut. Good bacteria play a significant role in regulating your immune system, preventing the growth of pathogens (bacteria that cause disease), and the digestion of food. Galactooligosaccharides (GOS) is the most advanced form of prebiotics that fit a group of special dietary fibers that nourish and fuel the growth of good bacteria in the gut.
Both prebiotics and probiotics help the body build and maintain a healthy colony of bacteria and other microorganisms, supporting the gut and aiding digestion. These food components help promote beneficial bacteria by providing nutrition and creating an environment in which microorganisms can thrive. Prebiotics are found in high-fiber foods, like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Probiotics are present in many fermented foods, including yogurt.
The main source of prebiotics is dietary fiber. They are found in fruits and vegetables, but you can also take them in supplement form. While all prebiotics is fiber but all fiber is not prebiotic. The common forms of dietary fiber found in most plant foods and grains are less selectively fermented by bacteria in the gut and lack some of the benefits shown by them. However, they are still beneficial to our health. Their consumption should be encouraged, as they help maintain regular hygienic habits and promote intestinal health.
Prebiotics vs. probiotics
Prebiotics are non-living, indigestible fibers that run through the gut, nursing good gut bacteria like bifidobacteria and lactobacilli. These can be found in carbohydrates, fruits, and vegetables. Boost favorable bacteria in your gut, without feeding harmful microorganisms or pathogens. These can be added to any food because they are resistant to heat, oxygen, stomach acids, and enzymes. When ingested, it reaches the small intestine intact and selectively feeds the good bacteria once they reach it.
Probiotics are live, active bacteria such as bifidobacteria and lactobacilli that enter the gut through ingestion of food and supplements. As they are live bacteria, these can be affected by heat and acidity. These can be destroyed on their way to the large intestine. Probiotic bacteria are live strains of bacteria found in fermented foods. Probiotic bacteria must survive and must also reach the intestines in adequate quantities.
Types of Prebiotics
Many prebiotics is used as food elements, for example in cookies, cereals, chocolate, spreads, and dairy products. The common prebiotics is oligofructose, Inulin, Galactooligosaccharides, Lactulose, low content of polysaccharides in breast milk.
Lactulose is a synthetic polysaccharide that is used as a medicine to treat constipation and hepatic encephalitis.
Benefits of Prebiotics
Assisting the probiotic growth of gut bacteria, enhancing digestion and metabolism.
Prebiotics enhance stool bulk and improve stool consistency by increasing fecal microbial mass. This increase in the volume of stool stimulates the passage through the colon, shortening the transit time.
Kober says, prebiotics help balance skin pH or support the skin’s barrier function, which boosts healthy bacteria. Hence, it helps improve your skin’s microbiome.
Kober says that consuming probiotics in both tablet and applying topical forms can help prevent and treat skin conditions including dermatitis, acne, dry skin, and UV-induced skin damage.
Some study suggests prebiotics help with improving calcium absorption.