What are prebiotics? What do they do? Should you take a prebiotic or a probiotic? Or both, maybe?? In this article, we unclutter the confusion behind gut health supplements and explain it all!
What are Prebiotics, and what are Probiotics?
Prebiotics are plant substances that feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut. While the terms ‘probiotic’ and ‘prebiotic’ are often randomly thrown together in the same sentence, the truth is they are very different supplements.
Probiotics are foods or supplements that contain live bacteria. By ingesting probiotics, you’re bringing additional bacteria reinforcements to your existing gut microbiome.
Probiotics don’t support your existing bacteria, but they bring additional bacteria to the colony.
Prebiotics, on the other hand, is a type of plant fiber and nutrients that your existing gut bacteria eat as their food. Prebiotics make your friendly gut bacteria grow and become stronger.
For example, a prebiotic food is beans or kale – they contain plenty of fiber that acts as prebiotic and nourishes your gut bacteria.
The best prebiotic supplements will specifically feed the most beneficial species of bacteria in your gut, while leaving the less helpful bacteria to starve.
The bottom line is: Probiotics add foreign bacteria strains, while prebiotics feed your already existing gut bacteria.
Prebiotics are more beneficial
In the last decade, probiotics have been some of the most popular supplements you can get.
However, with emerging science showing the massive advantages of prebiotics. More and more people are starting to see that prebiotics offer far more potential benefits, while also having a lower risk of side effects.
At last, prebiotics are beginning to get the attention they deserve.
Prebiotics vs Probiotics
At PDPPro, we believe that the best way to support your gut is to use the healthiest prebiotics.
Premium quality prebiotic supplements can massively improve your digestion, reduce bloating, and increase nutrient absorption.
Since our gut is directly linked to our brain and the rest of the body, prebiotic supplements can also have a huge positive impact on your cognitive performance, immune function, and even weight management.
Prebiotics do all this by feeding your good gut bacteria nutritious food.
By relying on your native gut bacteria, prebiotics offer a safe, sustainable, and effective way to upgrade different aspects of your daily health and performance at the same time.
The Best Prebiotic Supplements
These days we have hundreds of prebiotic supplements. Some are decent, some are insanely over-priced, and a small minority are not very effective.
To help you pick the right prebiotic for your goals, we’ve scoured, inspected, reviewed and ranked the most effective and best value prebiotics on sale today.
We really go in-depth in our individual reviews on PDPPro, but here’s the basics of what we look for in a good prebiotic supplements:
- Completely natural – no unnecessary fillers, or worse, additives that cause side effects
- Featuring the most effective ingredients – delivered in clinically researched doses
- Healthy for daily use – needs to offer long-term gut health support
- Produced by a reputable company – must be cGMP approved and manufactured to the highest standards.
- Great value for money – Must offer premium quality without breaking the bank
- Trustworthy – The manufacturer needs to have years of experience in the industry and be respected in their field.
Using these criteria, we’re able to show you the best prebiotic supplements that can stand up to the big names on the market.
#1 Overall – Performance Lab Prebiotic
Performance Lab Prebiotic is the best prebiotic supplement currently on sale. We believe it’s not only the best supplement for improving gut health, but also an excellent choice for people who want to optimize their daily energy, mood, and immune defenses.
Featuring 2g of Inulin-FOS per serving. This unique substance combines two soluble fibers – short-chain and long-chain – and passes virtually untouched into the colon where it selectively feeds Bifidobacterium strains which have a massive impact on your health and performance.
Because Performance Lab Prebiotic specifically nourishes Bifidobacterium, it delivers several key benefits, including:
- Improved digestive processes and nutrient utilization
- Immune system enhancement
- Reduced stress and anxiety
- Cognitive support
- More stable blood sugar throughout the day
- Easier weight contol
- Healthier cholesterol levels
On top of these benefits, Performance Lab Prebiotic is delivered in vegan prebiotic capsules made of fermented tapioca. At $35 per month’s supply, it’s hard to ask for more!
All of these factors made the choice easy for us – Performance Lab Prebiotic is the best gut health supplement on the market right now.
Sound interesting? Learn more about Performance Lab Prebiotic’s ingredients, prices and deals on the official website
#2 – WellnessSeries Prebiotic Greens
WellnessSeries Prebiotic Greens by Transparent Labs takes a very different approach to Performance Lab in terms of its formula. While Performance Lab make extremely pure, potent, nature-identical stacks, WellnessSeries Prebiotic Greens sticks to whole plant powders. Naturally flavored and containing 30 servings per tub, this powder blend features acacia fiber, chlorella fiber, artichoke, and chicory root amongst others.
Each serving provides you with 4g of prebiotic fiber. While it offers more fiber than Performance Lab Prebiotic per serving, WellnessSeries Prebiotic Greens isn’t as selective when it comes to which bacteria it will feed. So you aren’t getting the same bang for your buck.
Some people might also find so many different fibre combinations a lot to take in. The risk of side effects is mild, but it’s definitely something to keep in mind if you usually have issues with bloating and cramps.
Despite this, Transparent Labs WellnessSeries Prebiotic Greens is a great natural gut health product that easily comes in 2nd place on this list.
How we rated the best prebiotics
There are so many options out there that choosing the best prebiotic can be really tough. When we analyze prebiotics, we always follow the same methods of rating them.
First, we inspect the ingredients; their purity, scientific pedigree, and effectiveness. Top quality prebiotics need to be consisting exclusively of ingredients that have been shown to work in reliable human clinical trials.
If a compound has never been proven to promote good bacteria growth, we deduct a point in the ingredients category.
Then we check the price. We tend to ignore the simple prebiotic price and look at the real cost per day for a supplement.
Lastly, we look at the supplement as a whole – we decide whether the benefits, the potential side effects, its flaws, and the price all add up to a great product or not-so-great one. We then rate the product with a final overall score from 1-10.
So, what exactly does make a great prebiotic supplement?
For us, the best gut health supplements will contain science-backed ingredients without fillers (dead weight) or side effect risks, and the cost must be reasonable.
The best gut health supplements will have fibers that you can’t get from everyday, easy-to-find foods. We don’t want you to be paying premium prices for banana or flaxseed powders that only have good marketing behind them.
The very best prebiotics – in our experience at least – must specifically and exclusively feed your beneficial, “good” gut bacteria – Bifidobacterium being the most important one.
You can then see if a supplement meets all these criteria, it’s without question the best prebiotic in the world. It’s very rare for a supplement to pass even two of these criteria. Only a few hit more than one!
Who should take prebiotic supplements?
You’d be forgiven for believing that prebiotics are only for people with serious digestive issues.
Almost anyone can benefit from prebiotics.
Whether you’re aiming to improve your digestion, fight IBS, boost cognitive well-being, or increase nutrient absorption, a good prebiotic can make a huge difference.
This rings true today more than ever because people are consuming far too little fiber.
The typical Western diet is high in processed fats, meat, sugar, and very low in soluble fiber. That’s a nighthmare for your gut flora.
Even when we do eat fiber, it’s rarely the kind that makes the most impact on your gut health. Very few of us regularly eat foods rich in Inulin, such as asparagus or artichoke. We sometimes eat foods such as bananas, garlic, and leeks which are high in Oligosaccharides.
But our intake of these foods is still dramatically lower than what it should be for optimal health.
Which is why today more than ever people stand to benefit enormously from using the best gut health supplements such as prebiotic supplements.
You may not even be aware that your gut flora is in bad shape because it’s always been this way. Many people go through their entire lives without knowing they had extremely unhealthy gut microbiomes, and they never know how much it is holding their health and performance back.
Prebiotics have such a wide range of effects on the body, and such a low risk of side effects, that we think everyone should consider adding more of them to their daily supplement routine.
With that being said, if you’re often bothered by fatigue, low mood, or chronic nutrient insufficiencies or digestive issues, you should seriously think about adding a good quality prebiotic to your stack.
That said, if you are frequently bothered by digestive discomfort, low mood, fatigue, or chronic nutrient deficiencies, we think you should seriously consider adding a good quality prebiotic to your daily supplement regimen.
Benefits of gut health supplements
Prebiotic supplements and other gut health formulas have extremely wide ranging benefits.
Few people realize the influence your gut flora has over the rest of your body – and brain.
We’re actually just starting to scratch the surface when it comes to the gut-body-brain connection.
But if the recent research is anything to go by, the health of your digestive system directly affects everything from your stamina to your memory function.
As such, a good prebiotic gut health supplement offers these benefits:
- Improved cardiovascular health
- Diminished levels of harmful body fat
- Bolstered immune system
- Sharper cognitive function
- Brighter mood
Sometimes, it’s hard for people to grasp just how many of their body’s processes their gut influences, but it’s true. You just need to look at what happens in the gut and how it relates to the whole- body system.
Let’s look at two specific examples from the above list.
The gut & brain function
The human gut is not just a simple collection of organs. It’s an astonishingly complex system.
Your gut, in fact, contains a large amount of neurons. So many that it’s dubbed a nervous system – the Enteric Nervous System (ENS) to put it precisely.
Your ENS is the part of the larger autonomic nervous system, which carries out all automatic processes in your body such as breathing and reflexes.
The human ENS contains more neurons than the brains of many animals. This has led numerous scientists to dub the gut as our “second brain”.
Furthermore, your “second brain” is directly connected with your actual brain via the vagus nerve. It’s very important to note that the brain and the gut communicate in bidirectional manner – just as brain’s neurotransmitters affect your intestinal cells, so too do your intestinal cells affect brain hormone levels.
Clinical trials have shown that by manipulating the composition of our gut flora, we can dramatically alter our cognitive performance.
More precisely, studies show that improving the ratio of good bacteria in our gut microbiota directly improves our mood, focus, energy, and memory function.
The gut and cardiovascular system
The relationship between prebiotics and heart health is nowhere as confusing!
Regular intake of soluble prebiotic fibers has been shown to reduce heart attack, heart disease, and stroke risks in numerous academic trials.
Epidemiological studies support these findings; populations in so-called ‘blue zones’ that consume the highest amounts of soluble fiber have significantly higher life span and much lower risk of many of the Western world’s diseases.
One reason for this is that soluble prebiotic fiber binds to cholesterol-containing bile in your small intestine, helping to prevent re-absorption and increasing the elimination of old, stale, sticky cholesterol. Thus, contributing to lower risk of atherosclerosis which is largely caused by excess cholesterol!
We could write a book on the benefits of prebiotic supplements. The point is, good prebiotic supplements will help boost almost every aspect of human health and wellness, from learning and focus to the immune system strength.
But what about the risks of prebiotics?
Are the best gut health supplements safe?
Safety – Are Prebiotics free of side effects?
Generally speaking, prebiotics are very safe.
You’ll have a hard time finding someone who experienced serious adverse effects from prebiotics alone.
Remember – we’re talking about soluble plant fibers here. Of course, some foods contain fibers that you probably won’t be consuming in large amounts on a daily basis – this is why you take supplements.
But they are foods found in the natural human diet. All you are doing is cutting out much of the bulk of the food and consuming only the prebiotic fiber.
Prebiotics are widely-consumed supplements. Folks of all ages and from everywhere take them on a regular basis. They will not cause side effects unless you’re extremely sensitive to them specifically – which is, again, very rare.
You might have some minor side effects during the initial first few weeks of use;
These side effects are rare, and when they do happen, they’re very mild and transient. If you get them, it’s a sign your gut is going through a change; the friendly bacteria are outnumbering the harmful bacteria; the die off of which is causing the symptoms.
With all of this being said, please remember that we are not medical doctors. This is not medical advice in any way shape or form. If you have ongoing stomach problems, get in contact with your physician or a qualified dietitian before all else!
How to get the most from Prebiotics
Prebiotics are highly versatile. You can take them at any time of the day. You can stack them with other supplements.
However, you can maximize their benefits by taking them in a specific way.
If you’re using a probiotic then you’ll want to take it with a prebiotic. This will product more benefits than you’d get from taking either of the two alone.
You should also take prebiotics first thing in the morning with a glass of water, shortly prior to your breakfast. For maximum effects, we’d work our way up to taking prebiotics with both your breakfast and dinner with a full glass of water.
We also think a multivitamin is a good supplement to go together with a prebiotic. The increase in nutrient absorption from prebiotic fiber means that you’ll get more out of your multivitamin.