Good gut health is a combination of many factors. You’ve most likely heard of probiotics and prebiotics as two essential components. Probiotics are live microorganisms while prebiotics help probiotics flourish. In a sense, they provide the food that good microbes need to benefit health. But – what exactly are prebiotics and how can you get more of them?
What are Prebiotics?
Prebiotics are nondigestible ingredients that bypass or resist digestion in the small intestine. They make their way all the way to the large intestine and the colon where they stimulate good bacteria growth and create short-chain fatty acids. Prebiotics are just as important in a healthy microbiome as probiotics. In fact, you can look at prebiotics as the key that makes the lock (the probiotics) turn.
Benefits of Prebiotics
Multiple studies have demonstrated the benefits of prebiotics on gut health, and immune system.
May benefit mental health outcomes – A 2021 study found that supplementation with prebiotics once a day helped to change gut composition that led to reduced levels of anxiety. Another study, published in the British Medical Journal found that probiotics combined with prebiotics could help in reducing depression.
May help with better sleep – A 2017 study found that prebiotics could help in improving sleep as well as mitigating the effects that stress had on the body.
May help alleviate symptoms of skin conditions – found that prebiotics could offer another form of treatment for atopic dermatitis, or, eczema, due to its impact on immune function and alterations in gut health.
May impact reward signaling in the brain – a 2023 study found that prebiotics may alter gut composition and the reward signaling that relates to how we decide on which foods to eat. The study further examined how prebiotics improve the communication between the gut and the brain.
Prebiotics can be found naturally in plant based foods, or as a supplement
What Foods are Rich in Prebitiotics?
Foods rich in prebiotics include:
- Dandelion greens
- Chicory root
- Kiwi fruit
Supplemental forms of Prebiotics
When your diet can’t include all the prebiotic foods it needs, a supplement may be a great alternative. In fact, several studies examining the use of prebiotics in relation to better mental health outcomes use supplemental forms. The key is to obtain a source that is well-researched and high-quality. Many supplemental options include both pre and probiotics. The Jetson line of gut health supplements offers several options to get the prebiotics you need. Gut Prep, for example, provides prebiotics to help support healthy gut bacteria. Superkids provides prebiotics as well for children who may not get enough in their diet.
Prebiotics are an important component of overall gut health. Focusing on getting enough prebiotics in your diet may help with balancing healthy gut bacteria needed to reach your physical and mental health goals.