What are Prebiotics? Discover Their Benefits and Sources


Given the importance of maintaining a healthy gut microbiota for overall well-being, prebiotics are key to providing essential nutrients for specific probiotic bacteria.

Prebiotics play a significant role in supporting this delicate balance by providing essential nutrients for specific probiotic bacteria.

In this resource, we will delve into the benefits of prebiotics and their effects on the immune system as well as learn more about various sources of prebiotics in both natural food and supplement form.

What are Prebiotics?

Prebiotics are non-digestible food components that serve as fuel for the beneficial bacteria (healthy bacteria) in our gut, known as probiotics.

Prebiotics have an essential part to play in sustaining a favorable microbial balance of the gut and promoting overall well-being. By selectively stimulating the growth and activity of these good bacteria, prebiotics help improve digestion, boost immunity, and reduce inflammation.

Research has shown that prebiotics work by passing through the stomach undigested and reaching the colon where they are fermented by specific strains of bacteria such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli. (1)

This fermentation process produces short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which have numerous health benefits including providing energy to colon cells, reducing inflammation, and enhancing mineral absorption.

Importance of Gut Microbiota Balance

Maintaining a healthy balance of gut microbiota is critical for optimal health, as it contributes to digestion, immunity, and mental well-being.

An imbalance can lead to various health issues such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), obesity, and even mood disorders like anxiety or depression.

By incorporating prebiotics into your diet or supplement regimen, you can foster a beneficial environment for gut microbiota to thrive and promote overall health.

Incorporating prebiotics into your daily routine not only supports optimal digestive function but also contributes positively towards other aspects including immune system strength - making them an excellent addition for anyone looking to improve their general wellbeing.

Prebiotics are a type of dietary fiber that can help improve your gut health and support the growth of beneficial bacteria in your digestive system. By consuming prebiotics, you can reap many potential benefits for overall wellness. Let's now explore the potential advantages associated with consuming prebiotics.

Key Takeaway:

Prebiotics are non-digestible food components that serve as fuel for beneficial bacteria in the gut, promoting overall well-being by improving digestion, boosting immunity, and reducing inflammation.

They work by fermenting specific strains of bacteria to produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which have numerous health benefits such as providing energy to colon cells and enhancing mineral absorption.

Incorporating prebiotics into your daily routine can help maintain a balanced gut environment, contributing positively towards immune system strength and general well-being.

Benefits of Prebiotics

Prebiotics are essential for sustaining and boosting overall well-being, as they foster the growth of advantageous intestinal bacteria.

These helpful microorganisms contribute to various aspects of wellness, including digestion, immune function, and mental health.

This section will take a look at the advantages that come with taking prebiotics.

Deep Dive: Prebiotics vs Probiotics: What They Are and Why They Matter

Gut Health and Digestion

One primary advantage of prebiotics is their ability to support healthy gut flora. (2) By stimulating the growth and activity of beneficial bacteria like Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli, prebiotics help maintain a balanced microbiome.

This balance aids in proper digestion by breaking down complex carbohydrates that our bodies cannot digest on their own.

Immune System Support

A robust immune system is vital for fending off infections and illnesses. Research has shown that regular consumption of prebiotics can enhance immune function, mainly due to its positive impact on gut health. (3)

A healthy microbiome helps prevent harmful pathogens from colonizing the gastrointestinal tract while also supporting the production of essential nutrients needed for optimal immunity. They may help to reduce inflammation, especially in the intestines.

Help With Constipation

Due to the increase of good bacteria in your gut, prebiotics are known to fight harmful pathogens in your digestive tract and help with constipation. Furthermore, prebiotics can also help regulate bowel movements.

Mental Health Benefits

Recent studies suggest a link between the gut and the brain, finding that certain probiotic strains can produce neurotransmitters such as serotonin which play an important role in regulating mood.

Research suggests a close link between gut health and anxiety or stress due to the combination of psychological and physical factors. (4)

Prebiotic supplementation can further support these processes by providing an environment conducive to healthy gut bacteria growth, potentially leading to improved mental health. (5)

Weight Management and Blood Sugar Control

Prebiotics can support weight loss through their ability to increase satiety hormones, thus reducing calorie intake, as well as improving insulin sensitivity.

They can help regulate appetite by increasing satiety hormones, which may lead to reduced calorie intake.

Additionally, prebiotics have been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, a critical factor in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels and preventing type 2 diabetes.

Bone Health Enhancement

Last but not least, prebiotic consumption has demonstrated positive effects on bone health. By promoting the absorption of essential minerals like calcium and magnesium, prebiotics can contribute to stronger bones and teeth and may reduce the risk of osteoporosis later in life.

A study conducted on postmenopausal women revealed that those who consumed prebiotic supplements experienced a significant increase in calcium absorption rates. (6)

Key Takeaway: 

Prebiotics are essential for maintaining a healthy gut flora, which aids in digestion and immune system support.

Regular consumption of prebiotics can also lead to improved mental health, better weight management, and blood sugar control, as well as enhanced bone health by promoting the absorption of essential minerals like calcium and magnesium.

Types of Prebiotics

There are several types of prebiotic substances available, each with unique properties and benefits.


Inulin is a naturally occurring polysaccharide found in many plants such as chicory root, Jerusalem artichoke, and agave. (7)

It is composed of fructose molecules linked together by beta (2-1) bonds which make it resistant to digestion by human enzymes. Inulin is a dietary boon to beneficial gut bacteria, such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli, by inhibiting the growth of harmful microorganisms while promoting their proliferation.

It can also help to lower LDL cholesterol which is the bad cholesterol we need to avoid.

FOS (Fructooligosaccharides)

Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) are short-chain carbohydrates derived from inulin or synthesized from sucrose using specific enzymes. (8)

FOS selectively stimulates the growth and activity of certain probiotic strains like Bifidobacteria while limiting the proliferation of pathogenic bacteria such as Clostridia species.

GOS (Galactooligosaccharides)

Galactooligosaccharides (GOS), another type of prebiotic compound, consist mainly of galactose units linked together by beta (1-4) bonds. (9)

GOS is found in human milk and some legumes, and it can also be synthesized from lactose using specific enzymes.

It has been shown to stimulate the growth of Bifidobacteria while suppressing harmful bacteria like Escherichia coli.

Xylooligosaccharides (XOS)

Xylooligosaccharides (XOS) are derived from xylan-containing plant materials such as hardwoods, corn cobs, or rice husks. (10)

They consist of xylose units linked together by beta (1-4) bonds that resist digestion in the upper gastrointestinal tract.

XOS can support the expansion of advantageous intestinal bacteria, like Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli, while hindering pathogenic types.

Key Takeaway:

Prebiotics are compounds that serve as food for beneficial gut bacteria, promoting their growth and activity. There are different types of prebiotics available, such as inulin, FOS, GOS, and XOS. Each type has unique properties and benefits to consider when choosing a supplement or incorporating them into your diet for optimal gut health.

Sources of Prebiotics

Prebiotics are essential for maintaining a healthy gut and supporting overall wellness. While they can be found in certain foods, many people turn to supplements as an easy way to incorporate prebiotics into their daily routines.

In this section, we will explore the various sources of prebiotic supplements and discuss how you can choose the best option for your needs.

Natural Supplements

Natural prebiotic supplements and dietary supplements are derived from plant-based ingredients that contain high levels of dietary fiber or other compounds known to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut.

Resistant starch (commonly found in oats) is known to resist digestion and help with electrolyte and water absorption and anti-inflation.

Some common natural sources include chicory root, Jerusalem artichoke, dandelion greens, and konjac root (glucomannan). Powdered prebiotic supplements can be easily combined with liquid or incorporated into blended drinks.

Synthetic Supplements

In addition to natural options, there are also synthetic prebiotic supplements available on the market. (11)

These products typically contain lab-created versions of naturally occurring fibers like fructooligosaccharides (FOS), galactooligosaccharides (GOS), or xylooligosaccharides (XOS).

Synthetic prebiotics may offer some advantages over their natural counterparts since they allow manufacturers greater control over purity levels and potency.

Prebiotic Foods

While not technically a supplement, fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha provide both probiotics (live beneficial bacteria) and prebiotics (food for these bacteria).

Including fermented foods in your diet can be an effective way to support gut and digestive health naturally. (12)

Although some fermented foods contain prebiotics, they should not be the only source of dietary prebiotics.

Suggested reading: Powerful Prebiotic Foods

Selecting a Prebiotic Supplement

When choosing a prebiotic supplement, consider factors such as the type of fiber or compound included, dosage recommendations, potential side effects or interactions with medications you may be taking, and product quality.

Look for supplements that have been third-party tested for purity and potency by organizations like ConsumerLab, U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP), or NSF International.

For example, beta glucan is the most studied, well-known natural immune system supplement in the world.

There have been over 200,000 studies have been published on PubMed.gov, and over 250 studies on Glucan are currently being conducted on ClinicalTrials.gov

Research Behind Beta Glucan

Over 50 years of research have been performed on beta glucan at numerous universities and teaching hospitals such as Auburn University, Brown University, Cornell University, the Defense Research Estbmt in Canada as well as May Clinic.

Benefits of Beta Glucan

Beta glucan has the ability to modify the immune system and enhance our defenses by activating the complement system, boosting the function of macrophages, and improving the effectiveness of natural killer cells through immunomodulating activity. (13)

The administration of this remarkable molecule to animals resulted in extended survival periods, and human studies have also shown increased longevity among individuals who took beta glucans.

Furthermore, the health benefits of beta glucan have been explored to some extent, and the findings are promising.

Not all beta glucan supplements are created equal. Be aware of low-quality beta glucan products and look for reputable brands that have undergone third-party testing for purity and potency.

Using Prebiotics Safely

While prebiotic supplements can offer numerous benefits, it's essential to understand how to use them safely and effectively.

In this section, we'll discuss some key considerations when taking prebiotic supplements and the advantages of incorporating natural sources of prebiotics into your diet.

Paying Attention to Dosage

Dosage plays an essential role in ensuring the safe use of prebiotic supplements. Overdoing it may lead to gastrointestinal discomfort such as bloating, gas, or diarrhea.

It's vital to follow the recommended dosage guidelines provided by your healthcare professional or product manufacturer.

Consulting with a Healthcare Professional

Before starting any new supplement regimen, it's crucial to consult with a healthcare professional or qualified dietitian.

They can help you determine if adding prebiotic supplements is appropriate for your specific needs and provide guidance on proper dosages.

Particular caution should be taken by those with medical issues, pregnant or nursing mothers when considering prebiotic supplementation.

Want to gift someone? Send them a Better Way Health Gift Card

FAQs in Relation to Prebiotics and Beta Glucan

What are prebiotics and their benefits?

Prebiotics are dietary fibers found in certain foods that stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria in your digestive system.

They provide numerous benefits such as improved digestion, enhanced immune function, better nutrient absorption, and reduced inflammation.

What is the role of prebiotics in human health?

Prebiotics play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy balance of gut microbiota by selectively promoting good bacteria growth. This helps improve digestion, boost immunity, regulate metabolism, reduce inflammation, protect against harmful pathogens, and support mental well-being.

What is the truth about prebiotics and probiotics?

Both probiotics (live microorganisms) and prebiotic fibers work together to maintain optimal gut health. Probiotic supplements or foods introduce beneficial bacteria into your system while consuming prebiotics nourishes existing good microbes already present within your body.

What is Beta Glucan?

Beta glucan is a natural immune system supplement that is a natural polysaccharide classified as an immune modulator that is able to change (modulate) the immune system to operate as effectively as possible.

Who will benefit from taking Beta Glucan?

Beta glucan is recommended for individuals seeking optimal support for their immune system. Additionally, those who aim to maintain good health or restore their health can also benefit.


In conclusion, prebiotics are non-digestible fibers that help to feed the good bacteria in our gut. They have many benefits, including improving digestion, boosting immunity, and reducing inflammation. Prebiotics can be found in various sources such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

It is important to use prebiotics safely by starting with small amounts and gradually increasing intake while staying hydrated. For those with compromised health, prebiotic-rich foods may be a great way to support gut health and overall wellness.

To learn more about how prebiotics can improve your health, browse Better Way Health for natural supplements that support gut health and overall wellness.

Still have questions?

Our ACES Team is always there to help.

#1 supplement company since 1999

With thousands of verified 5 Star reviews, you can hear it directly from our customers.

I just take 2 to 3 of these per day, if I feel like I'm going to be traveling or around grandkids who have sicknesses then I will take more. 

Tracy Compton

We started using Beta Glucans with My Son when he was 10 years old ... I would Definitely, Definitely Recommend Beta Glucan.

Iris Ramirez

I was watching a Series by Chris Wark and He Highly Recommended Beta Glucan.

Heather Mills

I'm gonna hit 71 years old in April... I mean I'm doing things that 40 year old's do. 

G.J. Rancourt

Try it ... Your Immune System is Boosted to a Level that Mine Has Never Seen in Years.

Darcy Waller

I Feel I Have More Energy, I Feel Stronger ... I Recommend Beta Glucan to Everyone.

Diana Perez

I have not missed a day taking My Beta Glucan and I'm Really Pleased with The Results

Cheryl Houston

I just want to endorse them and say they have a great product, but they are a great company with awesome people. 

Scott Wood

Featured Better Way Health Products

    Cart0 items
    Your cart is empty!
    Have a question?
    Call Us 800-746-7640