Remedies

A Dietitian Picks the Best Prebiotics

By Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD

You may know about probiotics, the gut-friendly microbes that help fight inflammation and support a healthy digestive system but probiotics would be nowhere without the fuel of prebiotics. Prebiotics are a special type of fiber that help probiotics grow in the gut.

Certain fruits and vegetables like green bananas and asparagus contain prebiotics, or you can just as easily take a daily prebiotic supplement along with a probiotic supplement to reap a variety of health benefits like normalizing blood sugar and protecting against heart disease. If you’re lucky, you may find a probiotic product that already contains prebiotics. The best prebiotics can help boost not only the gut, but also the immune system.

Best Symbiotic Supplement

MAV Nutrition Probiotics + Prebiotics

This prebiotic and probiotic blend, also known as a symbiotic, provides just what you need for improved gut health. This supplement contains 20 billion colony-forming units (CFUs) of seven probiotic strains including five Lactobacillus strains and two Bifidobacterium strains. Research shows that these types of strains can help improve gut barrier function and reduce inflammation in the body.

Summary of MAV Nutrition Probiotics + Prebiotics for Digestive Enzymes Support:
  • Delayed release to help support gut health all day long
  • Just one capsule per daily serving
  • GMO-free
  • Made in the U.S.A.
  • Vegetarian-friendly
  • Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP)-certified which ensures potency and purity of the product

Best Standalone Prebiotic Supplement

BioSchwartz Advanced Prebiotic

This prebiotic product has a formula that works alone or with a probiotic. It contains the PreforPro® compound, which is a group of bacteriophages, or “good” viruses that seek out and destroy “bad” bacteria in the body. Along with this, it also contains xylooligosaccharides (PreticX®) which are gut-friendly prebiotic fibers. Therefore, this formula both fights bad bacteria and nourishes good bacteria.

Summary of BioSchwartz Advanced Prebiotic:
  • Dairy-free
  • Gluten-free
  • Free of common allergens, including peanuts, tree nuts, sugar, soy, wheat, and gluten
  • Free of preservatives and artificial colorants
  • Do not need to refrigerate
  • Made in the U.S.A.
  • Processed in a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) registered & inspected GMP-certified facility
  • 100% satisfaction guaranteed or your money back
  • Third-party tested facility for product purity, safety, and label accuracy

Best Bad Bacteria Fighter

Dr Tobias Prebiotic

This product is not really a prebiotic supplement, meaning it doesn’t contain prebiotic fibers. But it does support the gut by giving your body the PreforPro® compound. This compound, as mentioned before, seeks out and destroy “bad” bacteria in the body. By doing this, this product helps reduce gut issues like bloating or gas as well as fluid retention.

Summary of Dr Tobias Prebiotic:
  • non-GMO
  • processed in an FDA registered & inspected GMP-certified facility
  • Third-party tested for product purity, safety, and label accuracy
  • Do not need to refrigerate
  • Vegetarian-friendly
  • Very low FODMAP formula
  • Just one capsule per serving

What You Need to Know

Like with any supplement, not all products are created equal. There are so many choices on store shelves that it may be confusing to know which ones will provide you the most benefit. Read below to help you choose the right prebiotic for you and your gut.

Types

Prebiotics are in certain plant-based foods like fruits and veggies as well as supplements. Foods that contains prebiotics include:

  • Bananas (especially green bananas)
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Leeks
  • Asparagus
  • Soybeans
  • Oats
  • Whole-wheat products
  • Chicory root
  • Dandelion greens
  • Jerusalem artichokes (also known as a sunchoke)

Chicory root, dandelion greens and Jerusalem artichokes are less familiar foods that can provide great nutrition. Chicory root comes from a plant in the dandelion family and is known for it’s coffee-like flavor. As it lacks caffeine, it is a great hot drink alternative when looking for a non-stimulating beverage.

Dandelion greens can be found in the produce department and solid in bunches much like spinach. They can be tossed in a salad or sautéed in olive oil.

Finally, Jerusalem artichokes, also known as a sunchoke, look like a ginger root on steroids. They are a low-carb potato alternative and can be eaten raw or cooked. Any way you normally prepare root vegetables: roasting, steaming, sautéing and frying are all fair game. Or they can be consumed like jicama.

When it comes to prebiotic supplements, you may see certain compounds in such products as:

  • Inulin
  • Fructooligosaccharides (FOS)
  • Galactooligosaccharides (GOS)
  • Human milk oligosaccharides (HMOS)
Benefits 

By feeding probiotics with prebiotic fibers, many symbiotic health benefits arise. In fact, research shows that prebiotics may help reduce LDL, the bad cholesterol, which can lead to heart disease. Also, they may also improve bone health by increasing how much calcium is absorbed in the body. These fibers may also help strengthen the immune system.

Cons

Most people can benefit from prebiotics, but there are some people that may not tolerate them well. In fact, health experts report that prebiotics may worsen symptoms for those with conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

People with IBS cannot tolerate FODMAPs, or certain sugars that aren’t completely digested or absorbed by the intestines. Consuming such compounds will cause them symptoms like abdominal pain, gas, bloating, diarrhea, or constipation. Prebiotics like onion, garlic, artichokes, chicory root, wheat, and asparagus are high in FODMAPs.

How Women Uniquely benefit from prebiotics

Most people can benefit from prebiotics in their diet. However, women can reap unique health benefits. For example, many women can relate that yeast infections are the worst. They are painful, itchy, and uncomfortable. Having such an infection can really stop your day in its tracks.

However, recent research shows that nourishing probiotics with prebiotics may help balance the gut and in turn reduce such infections. Not to mention that they may lower risk of urinary tract infections, help manage osteoporosis, and reduce menopausal symptoms. Therefore, aside from just gut health, prebiotics can support other important aspects of health in women.

Why Do We Need Prebiotics?

Prebiotics are a vital part of a gut health. Besides improving digestion, they also strengthen the immune system and can help with bone health and lower the risk of certain conditions that especially affect women like UTIs and PMS. 

You can consume prebiotics through certain foods or through a daily supplement. When looking for a prebiotic consider taking one that includes a probiotic as it’s typically formulated to work symbiotically with each other.

Since prebiotics may not benefit everyone, it may be best to try out certain prebiotic foods in small amounts before buying a supplement. You can also ask a qualified gastroenterologist to answer any questions you may have about prebiotics.

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