Prebiotics as food source of probiotics

Apart from including probiotics in our diet for a healthy gut, it is also important to incorporate prebiotics as they act as food source for these friendly bacteria. Prebiotics are defined as ‘a selectively fermented compound that result in specific changes in the composition and/or activity of the gut microbiota, therefore conferring beneficial health effects on the host’ (Carlson et al., 2018). Prebiotics are naturally occurring non-digestible fiber that can be found in many food sources including chicory root, bananas, asparagus, leek, etc. Prebiotic is also now extensively available in several forms of dietary supplements including powder, liquid and capsule. The common types of prebiotics include fructooligosaccharides (FOS), inulin, galactooligosaccharides (GOS).

Health impact of prebiotics in human

As prebiotics can promote the growth of gut microflora, this can help in restoring the gut microflora composition, resulting in amelioration or prevention of many chronic inflammation-related disorders that are closely linked to gut dysbiosis. The fermentation of prebiotics by gut microbiota results in the formation of short-chain fatty acid (SCFA), a key mediator for gut health effects. In addition, the production of SCFAs has led to the elicitation of other beneficial physiological effects, including immune system potentiation, reduction in gut pathogenic bacteria population, enhance mineral absorption that could link to a decreased risk of osteoporosis, etc. Studies have also shown that the addition of prebiotics help alleviates symptoms of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) and improve other digestive-related concerns.

Synergistic effect of prebiotics and probiotics

Prebiotics, when taken in combination with the appropriate strains may provide a synergistic effect on overall health, especially gut health. Apart from solely supplying food sources to the indigenous gut microbiota, it is also advisable to introduce additional probiotics into our diet for better health effects.  


Carlson et al., 2018.