Prebiotics are non-digestible dietary fibers that selectively stimulate the growth of beneficial colon bacteria in the host’s microbiota such as bifidobacteria and lactobacilli. Among prebiotics, inulin and fructooligosaccharides are the most well-known of them.

Created 16 October 2020
Updated 10 December 2021

About this article

Created 16 October 2020
Updated 10 December 2021

Prebiotics are complex carbohydrates that are not digested by the upper gastrointestinal tract, but rather are fermented in the final section by “good” bacteria present in the colon. Consequently, they are not a source of energy for intestinal cells, but are essential substrates for certain (sidenote: Microorganisms Living organisms that are too small to be seen with the naked eye. They include bacteria, viruses, fungi, archaea and protozoa, and are commonly referred to as “microbes”. What is microbiology? Microbiology Society. ) , particularly in the vaginal and intestinal microbiota.

Where can you find prebiotics?

Diet is the only source of prebiotics; it’s by eating that you feed your microbiota and thereby influence its diversity and composition. Therefore, a varied diet, favoring foods high in fiber like fresh fruit and vegetables, is the key element in preserving the equilibrium in bacterial flora.

The most-used prebiotics are fructans, particularly inulin, and fructooligosaccharides. Some foods are particularly rich in them: 

  • bananas, onions, and garlic contain oligosaccharides,
  • endives, chicory, and artichokes contain inulin,
  • dry pulses and complete cereals contain resistant starch.

Prebiotics, effects to be confirmed

Prebiotics have great therapeutic potential for diseases associated with  (sidenote: Dysbiosis Generally defined as an alteration in the composition and function of the microbiota caused by a combination of environmental and individual-specific factors. Levy M, Kolodziejczyk AA, Thaiss CA, et al. Dysbiosis and the immune system. Nat Rev Immunol. 2017;17(4):219-232.   ) , like infectious intestinal diseases or allergies. Nevertheless, like with probiotics, it will be necessary to identify the kind of prebiotic to use, the dose, the route of administration, and to confirm their effectiveness. 

The Biocodex Microbiota Institute is dedicated to education about human Microbiota for General Public and Healthcare Professionals, it doesn't give any medical advice.

We recommend you to consult a healthcare professional to answer your questions and demands.

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