Prebiotics – A key to your healthy gut

What are prebiotics?

Prebiotics are carbohydrates which resist digestion in the small intestine and reach the colon where they are selectively fermented and utilized by host gut microflora conferring health benefits.

Why do we need them?

The human large intestine harbours up to 1000 different species of bacteria residing in the colon with microbial populations comprising approximately 1011 –1012 cfu/g of contents.  Our diet is typically high in carbohydrates and refined sugar (simple carbs like rice, roti, and maida), which mainly feed harmful bacteria. Poor diet choices (highly processed foods, oily, spicy, low fiber foods) make things worse by causing an imbalance between good and bad gut bacteria. Poor gut health can impact nearly every system in the body. Symptoms like bloating, cramping, digestive irregularity, gas, indigestion and other lesser-known symptoms including brain fog, insomnia, fatigue, skin problems, and a weakened immune system are all associated with poor gut health. Even if you feel like your gut is fairly healthy, factors like stress, ageing, poor diet, and antibiotics cause an imbalance in the gut. Sometimes the diet may not include enough prebiotics. In order to enhance the number and type of good bacteria and reduce bad bacteria, prebiotics are essential. One can add Gut Health Supplements like ActiFiber natural Gut Strength to your diet to get stronger digestive health in 2 weeks, which also enhances overall health in the long run.

How do they work? (Benefits)

Fermentation of prebiotics in the large intestine results in the reduction of colonic pH and production of compounds called short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) which promotes stability in the integrity of the colonic wall (preventing leaky gut), stimulates the multiplication of beneficial bacteria like (Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium etc.) and also selectivity mitigates or reduces the potential pathogens, or gas-producing organisms (such as Clostridium). SCFA impacts overall health in several ways. It improves mineral absorption, modulates the immune system, improves bowel habits, reduces occasional constipation and diarrhoea, promotes metabolic health that is insulin resistance, and blood lipid levels, ameliorates symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, and reduces allergies.

Sources of prebiotics

  1. Present in a wide range of foods – plants as FOS and inulin (chicory root, vegetables like onion, garlic, tomatoes, fruits like apples, bananas, berries, legumes and whole grains).
  2. Usually isolated from whole plants or synthesized from sugars. (Wheat dextrin etc.)

Are prebiotics the same as fiber?

Fibers in vegetables and fruits such as cellulose, pectins, xylans, etc., promote the growth of many microorganisms in the gut. Some fibers can exert prebiotic effects whereas others do not. As prebiotics are typical “carbohydrate polymers that are neither digested nor absorbed in the human small intestine,” most prebiotics, in contrast, can be classified as fibers. Molecules classically regarded as prebiotics include human milk oligosaccharides, inulin, fructo-oligosaccharides, galacto-oligosaccharides, wheat dextrin, acacia gum, psyllium, banana, whole grain wheat, and whole grain corn also have prebiotic effects

Do we need both fiber and prebiotics?

Most of us do not get enough fiber in our diet. Increasing fiber-rich foods and prebiotic-containing foods or supplements promotes gut health.

How to take it, and when to take it?

The best way to take prebiotics is with a glass of water before a meal. It can be taken any time of the day that works for you but consistency is key. It’s not necessary to take them on an empty stomach, it depends on your preference.

Medications: Since prebiotics pass through the digestive system without being absorbed, they could decrease the absorption of certain medications. To be safe, it’s best to take prebiotics at least 2 hours before or after medications.

Digestive conditions: If you have a digestive condition like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) or FODMAP, it is preferably better to take prebiotics before bed. Since the gut is at rest while you sleep, this helps to avoid any mild side effects like gas or diarrhoea. It is good to start with a small dose.

How long to take prebiotics?

The longer you take prebiotics, the better. It takes time for probiotic bacteria to respond to prebiotic support. Continued support creates an environment that facilitates long-term health benefits. 

Difference between Fiber and prebiotics






Not Digested by humans but acted upon by selective microbes

Not Digested by humans but some fibers are utilised by gut microbe


Present in a wide range of foods - plants (chicory root, vegetables like onion, garlic, tomatoes, fruits like apples, bananas, berries, legumes and whole grains).


Naturally present in many whole grains, fruits, vegetables and legumes

Also isolated from whole plants or synthesized from sugars.

Example: Wheat dextrin


 No specified adequate intake level or recommended aaily value (RDA)

Adequate intake values (RDA) specified 28 grams per day based on 2000 kcal/ day diet.


Many current prebiotics are a type of soluble dietary fiber.

Can be soluble or insoluble


All prebiotics are dietary fibers. Prebiotics have a much more powerful effect on health and gut microbiota than fiber.

All fibers do not impart prebiotic effects because, not all are metabolized by beneficial gut microbes.





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