What Are Prebiotics?


Quick Answer

Prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates which become a food source for probiotics, explains Mayo Clinic. Prebiotic substances induce the growth of bacteria and fungi which contribute to the well-being of the host, notes Wikipedia.

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Full Answer

Prebiotics exist throughout the body, particularly in the gastrointestinal tract, where they alter the distribution of organisms within the gut, explains Wikipedia. Prebiotics increase the number and activity of two specific types of bacteria, bifidobacteria and lactic acid bacteria, notes Wikipedia. These bacteria types can improve digestion, enhance mineral absorption and increase the effectiveness of a host's immune system.

Mayo Clinic lists several food sources that contain prebiotics, including unrefined wheat, unrefined barley, whole wheat flour, raw oaks, raw honey, raw bananas, raw asparagus and raw garlic. Both raw or cooked onion contain prebiotics. The riches natural resources with prebiotics include acacia gums and inulin sources, such as jicama, chicory root and Jerusalem artichokes. Prebiotics are added to many different types of foods and are also available as dietary supplements, according to Mayo Clinic.

When prebiotics combine with probiotics, they form a synbiotic, which includes live bacteria and sufficient fuel to thrive, explains Mayo Clinic. Yogurt and other fermented dairy products are synbiotics. Side effects related to prebiotics and prebiotic use are rare.

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