What are Prebiotics? Prebiotic Foods and Supplements Explained

  • By Performance Lab
  • 14 minute read
What are Prebiotics? Prebiotic Foods and Supplements Explained

Considering the gut’s importance to cognitive and physical performance, both nootropic nerds and athletic jocks can share an appreciation for prebiotics, a class of dietary fibers that contribute to a healthy gut biome.

Few things throw off your total health and performance quite like a poor digestive system. And, yet, few people seem to be aware of the central importance of digestion to, well, virtually everything else our body does that we tend to take for granted.

One of the key offenders in poor gut health is the lack of prebiotic fibers in the modern, ultra-processed, nutrient-depleted diet. Many of us simply aren’t getting enough dietary prebiotics, leading to disruptions in our gut microbiome and, consequently, in our metabolic health.

This is where prebiotic supplementation comes in handy.

But what exactly are prebiotics?

Are prebiotics just a type of probiotic? What’s the difference between prebiotics and probiotics, and should you take one over the other? What’s the best prebiotic supplement?

In this article, we cover these answers and more. So, let’s get to it.

The Beginner’s Guide on Prebiotics Supplements

Referred to as the “second brain,” the gut-brain axis (enteric system) directly links gut health to mental health, and vice versa.

With the realization that we’re making ourselves mentally unhealthy quite literally with our unhealthy diets has come the realization that much of the gut’s health status relies upon the composition of our intestinal microflora.

Our guts are filled with bacteria. In fact, there’s more bacteria in our gut than there are human cells in our bodies—we are, in terms of number count, more bacteria than human.

The type and concentration of bacteria in our gut determines the health of our intestinal microflora at large. Prebiotic supplements feed the beneficial bacteria in our gut in support of an overall healthier intestinal microflora composition.

And one of the best prebiotic supplements for the job is Performance Lab® Prebiotic, an ultramodern prebiotic formula for safe, daily gut support. Let’s take a brief glance at the formula:

Performance Lab® Prebiotic

Powered by Orafti® Synergy1 Inulin-FOS, Performance Lab® Prebiotic is an ultramodern 2-in-1 probiotic + soluble fiber supplement for healthy metabolic and microbiome performance.

Whereas probiotic supplements often fail to enact their benefits in the gut, due to denaturation in the digestive system, Prebiotic’s inulin-FOS has a greater resilience and general shelf-life longevity. Performance Lab® Prebiotic works by:

  • Selectively promoting Bifidobacterium, the preferred beneficial bacteria strain for improving the overall gut microbiome composition.
  • Supporting digestive regularity and comfort associated with poor gut microflora health and nutrient status.
  • Promoting healthy immune system performance in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract to increase resistance to pathogens.
  • Encouraging fat loss and weight management by reducing food caloric density and mitigating excess food cravings.

When your gut biome is off, everything is off. By nourishing and encouraging the robust growth of the probiotic strains already present in your gut, Performance Lab® Prebiotic may help users of all dietary lifestyles optimize their gut biome towards healthier metabolic, digestive performance.

Not to mention that the formula’s use of only all-natural, prebiotic-infused capsules, as the premium NutriCaps®, and its complete avoidance of synthetics and artificial additives makes this one of the cleaner, greener, and safer gut health supplements for daily, long-term use. 

Get the Best Deal on Performance Lab® Prebiotic Here

Continue reading to learn more about what distinguishes prebiotics from probiotics, as well as what to look for in a prebiotic supplement.

So, What are Prebiotics and How Do They Affect Our Health?

Prebiotics are not probiotics. Though they’re often classified similarly to prebiotics under the banner of “gut health support,” due to their similar bio-effects on the gut microbiome, prebiotics are both structurally and functionally dissimilar to probiotics.

Here’s a rough definition of prebiotics:

  • Prebiotics are a type of dietary fiber that the human body cannot digest alone, requiring the assistance of living microorganisms in the gut, such as bacteria and yeast (probiotics), to fully breakdown and digest.

In other words, whereas probiotics are the living microorganisms in your gut, namely the beneficial bacteria that help make our digestive system work smoothly, prebiotics are the foods that feed and nourish these probiotic microbes and bacteria.

Prebiotics are in a sense pro-probiotic.

It perhaps wouldn’t be inaccurate to say that much of the emphasis on probiotic supplementation is in response to the consequences of low prebiotic fiber intake.

When we fail to consume adequate prebiotics, meaning when we fail to nourish the beneficial bacteria in our gut, our digestive system suffers—as well as our metabolic health, mental health, bone health, and many other aspects of our health and fitness.

How Important are Prebiotics?

Any bodybuilder can tell you the importance of getting all the right amounts of macros (carbs, proteins, fats) in your diet. A smart bodybuilder may even guide you through the importance of micronutrients—i.e., vitamins, minerals, aminos.

But few health and fitness enthusiasts understand the universal importance of prebiotics, which is to say that: prebiotics are very important.

To put it in perspective, “getting all the right macronutrients and micronutrients” heavily depends upon your gut’s ability to digest and absorb nutrients.

And without sufficient prebiotic intake to nourish the beneficial bacteria in your gut, your intestinal microflora simply won’t be able to sufficiently breakdown all the foods you toss down your gullet.

You can make the choice to eat better, but these plans won’t amount to much if your body is incapable of sufficiently absorbing nutrients. This is why taking care of your gut microbiome is severely important to your overall health and nutrient status.

The Top Prebiotic + Probiotic Foods

We wouldn’t just scare you with the importance of prebiotics, then leave you hanging.

Remember that prebiotics are essentially a subcategory of food, namely of fiber. And what’s more, many foods high in prebiotic content tend to also come with a healthy number of probiotics.

These types of foods are called synbiotics, meaning they supply a synergistic combination of prebiotics and probiotics.

All the same, if you’re specifically looking for either prebiotic-rich or probiotic-rich foods, here are a couple lists to help you out:

Top Prebiotic Food Sources

  • Chicory Root
  • Jerusalem Artichokes
  • Dandelion Greens
  • Apple Skin
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Bananas
  • Legumes
  • Beans
  • Berries
  • Oats
  • Asparagus
  • Leeks

Top Probiotic Food Sources

  • Kimchi
  • Kombucha
  • Kefir
  • Yogurt
  • Sauerkraut
  • Miso Soup
  • Pickled Vegetables

Which is Better For Your Digestive Health: Prebiotics vs. Probiotics?

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Probiotics, or beneficial bacteria, are fundamentally what matter here.

Even the importance of prebiotics centrally relates to their role in promoting the robust growth and resilience of the beneficial bacteria in your gut.

Having said that, this doesn’t make prebiotic supplements necessarily of secondary importance, or effectiveness, to probiotic supplements.

Rather prebiotics may actually be more effective than probiotics at improving your gut health, due to the following factors:

  • Resilience – dietary probiotics often denature in the digestive system before reaching the colon, where they enact their benefits; prebiotics, on the other hand, survive the GI tract to reach the colon and feed your gut bacteria.
  • Longevity – for probiotics to work, they need to be consumed as live colonies; however, many probiotic supplements come “dead on arrival,” whereas prebiotic supplements, as resilient food fibers, tend to have a greater shelf-lifespan.
  • Universality – probiotic supplements introduce the gut to 20+ billion mixed cultures that may not exactly align with the bacterial composition of your gut, whereas prebiotic fibers selectively promote the health of the bacteria strains that matter most.

Given the greater resilience, longevity, and universality of prebiotic fiber, it’s fair to say that prebiotics are more important than probiotics, at least as far as supplementation goes. However, taking both prebiotics and probiotics at the same time to encourage better gut health is a smart, common move.

The Benefits and Side Effects of Prebiotics

If there were no benefits to taking prebiotics …well, we wouldn’t take them.

Likewise, if the risk of side effects were high, we also wouldn’t take them.

Fortunately, prebiotics encompass an incredibly effective and safe class of supplements, one with plenty of research-backed health benefits and rarely reported cases of side effects.

In a study on the health advantages of dietary prebiotic fibers, the following health benefits were listed in association with prebiotics:

  1. Increases in Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli
  2. Production of beneficial metabolites
  3. Increases in calcium absorption
  4. Decreases in protein formation
  5. Decreases in pathogenic bacteria populations
  6. Decreases in allergy risk
  7. Effects on gut barrier permeability
  8. Improved immune system defense

Not to mention the improvements on mental health (e.g., verbal episodic memory) associated with prebiotic supplementation.

Fiber with prebiotic effects is safe and effective for improving gut microbiota with minimal risk of side effects, even in comparison to probiotic supplements.

Because you’re dealing with live bacterial colonies with probiotics, there’s generally a greater risk of incurring side effects with probiotic supplementation over prebiotic supplementation. Though there are some side effects associated with prebiotic fiber (e.g., abdominal bloating, discomfort, feeling “blocked up”), they are rare.

In a systematic review on the safety of probiotics, the populations most at-risk of adverse effects were critically ill patients with “immune-compromised complexity,” again demonstrating the superiority of prebiotic fibers over probiotic supplements.

Taking Prebiotic Fiber Supplements for Weight Loss

One of the more popular reasons for taking prebiotic supplements: a source of weight loss—or, at the least, weight management.

Whereas many dieting strategies revolve around calorie counting, macronutrient intake, micronutrient assessment, and so on, more and more health and fitness enthusiasts are beginning to understand the effectiveness of promoting a healthy gut biome towards managing weight.

As a review on both human and animal research pertaining to the “global pandemic complex” of obesity has observed, the effects of modifying the gut microbiome composition on variations in body weight and body mass index are potentially beneficial.

The researchers noted that their findings from “animal studies and human clinical trials suggest potential beneficial effects of prebiotic and various probiotic strains on those physical, biochemical, and metabolic parameters related to obesity.”

If you feel that no matter what you eat or how much you eat you feel your fat loss efforts aren’t going far enough, consider improving your gut microbiome with prebiotics.

There are many forms of prebiotics for gut health, like bars, capsules and powder.

When to Take Prebiotics

Whether you feel you *need* a prebiotic supplement or not, taking prebiotics daily and consistently may go a long way in supporting long-term gut health and all the associated metabolic effects.

However, signs that you may quote-unquote “need” to start supplementing prebiotics, or at least increase your dietary prebiotic fiber intake with prebiotic foods, include:

  • Frequent abdominal pain and discomfort
  • Constant bloating
  • Frequent indigestion
  • Frequent diarrhea
  • Excess gas
  • Low cognitive energy and performance
  • Increased sugar cravings

Because poor nutrient status tends to come with poor probiotic status, improving your probiotic levels with prebiotic supplementation via simple products like pills and even chocolate bars may also improve other secondary signs of prebiotic-deficiency, such as those associated with nutrient deficiencies.

Side Effects of Taking Prebiotics and Probiotics at the Same Time

Unless you fall under the aforementioned “high-risk” category of adverse effects with probiotic supplementation (in which case, consult a physician before considering use), taking prebiotics with probiotics is a smart move for most people.

Together, prebiotics’ probiotic support synergizes with probiotic supplementation to promote healthy digestive performance across the board, not to mention nutrient status.

What are the Best Prebiotic Supplements?

Like their various food sources, not all prebiotics are the same. With that in mind, the prebiotics to look for in a prebiotic supplement are:

Inulin-FOS (FructoOligoSaccharides)

Found in chicory root, one of the best prebiotic fiber sources, inulin-FOS is a two-in-one combo that supplies two soluble fibers with prebiotic properties.

What makes inulin-FOS particularly effective at improving the gut microbiome is the duo’s mix of inulin’s “long-chain” structure with FOS’ “short-chain” structure, which assist with gut health in the following ways:

  • Probiotic Support: by selectively nourishing Bifidobacterium, the preferred beneficial bacteria strain for its high metabolic competitiveness, inulin-FOS improves the overall composition of the gut’s microbiota.
  • Soluble Fiber Support: as commonly recommended, “eating more fiber” means improving your digestive performance and regularity, not to mention your relationship to your food and your appetite.

As a bifidogenic prebiotic, inulin-FOS encourages the robust growth of Bifidobacterium, a highly competitive bacterial strain that outcompetes harmful bacteria from living in the gut.

This seems to be a potentially more effective strategy at improving the gut microbiome over simply overloading the gut with live Bifidobacteria probiotic cultures

Look for Orafti® Synergy1 Inulin-FOS: the best inulin-FOS supplement used by prebiotic supplements, Orafti® Synergy1 is a patented, research-backed prebiotic naturally sourced from chicory root. In clinical research, Orafti® Synergy1 has been shown to be not only safe and effective at improving beneficial bacteria levels in the gut, but it may also assist with your gut health under gluten-free dieting conditions.

Bifidobacterium vs. Lactobacillus: What’s the Difference?

The two most commonly discussed strains of probiotics—Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus—are both promoted by inulin-FOS; although, inulin-FOS is partial towards the growth of Bifidobacterium.

Though similarly involved in the digestion of certain sugars, resulting in the production of lactic acid, Bifidobacterium is generally preferred over Lactobacillus (if one had to choose), due to Bifidobacterium’s competitive nature.

Selectively promoting Bifidobacterium levels helps shift the overall gut biome to predominantly represent beneficial bacteria, as opposed to metabolically weak or outright harmful bacteria.

Pullulan (Fermented Tapioca)

The ingredients in a formula are important (obviously), but so, too, are the “Other Ingredients” (the additives) important, especially where gut health is concerned. The truth is: A supplement can boast an excellent formula, but that matters very little if the formula comes encased in cheap, synthetic, potentially harmful additives.

This is why Performance Lab® Prebiotic delivers its formula in clean, green, all-natural NutriCaps®, a patented capsule constructed out of fermented tapioca, or pullulan as our trusted source of prebiotics. Prebiotic-infused, these pullulan capsules further assist with the prebiotic aims of Performance Lab® Prebiotic’s formula, which is a substantial improvement over standard gut health supplements that counterproductively fill their formulas with gut-unhealthy synthetics and additives.

Let’s see how these capsules fit into Prebiotic’s total gut-supporting formula design:

Upgrade Your Gut and Digestive Health With: Performance Lab® Prebiotic

The natural follow-up to the question of “What are prebiotics?” is “What is the best prebiotic supplement?”

And the answer to that is: Performance Lab® Prebiotic.

Powered by Orafti® Synergy1 Inulin-FOS, the best inulin-FOS ingredient for selectively promoting Bifidobacterium in the gut, Performance Lab® Prebiotic encourages both a healthy gut microbiome and digestive regularity for an all-around boost on health and performance. And it does this without resorting to cheap synthetics or artificial additives.

Check it:

Performance Lab® Prebiotic Formula Analysis

  • Orafti® Synergy1 (Inulin-FOS), 2 g
  • NutriCaps® Pullulan Capsule
  • NuFlow® Rice Concentrate

Using an enhanced, patented version of inulin-FOS, Performance Lab® Prebiotic makes the most of its formula, delivering all of its prebiotic content to the gut with minimal risk of denaturation in the digestive system or expiration on the shelf. Once in the gut, Prebiotic’s formula helps boost Bifidobacterium, the preferred probiotic for a healthier gut.

There are three reasons why Performance Lab® Prebiotic selectively promotes Bifidobacterium over other beneficial bacteria strains:

  1. Bifidobacterium seems to more readily reinforce the intestinal lining.
  2. Bifidobacterium is a highly competitive probiotic strain.
  3. Bifidobacterium outcompetes weak and harmful bacteria strains in the gut more efficiently than other beneficial bacteria species.

By naturally nourishing the bacterial strains already present in your gut, Performance Lab® Prebiotic is the more organic option to boosting your gut health over live cultured probiotics.

Additionally, the combination of Performance Lab® Prebiotic’s inulin-FOS and NutriCaps® pullulan capsules makes this formula totally prebiotic inside and out. Even the capsules possess prebiotic value without negatively impacting the inulin-FOS with unnecessary additions of synthetic colorants, preservatives, or fillers.

Only all-natural, clean, green stuff here that your gut will actually enjoy.

Taken daily and consistently, Performance Lab® Prebiotic may go a long way in improving your gut microbiome without the digestive discomfort brought by many probiotic options. Paired with probiotics and multivitamins, Prebiotic may elevate your health and fitness to peak performance levels.

Get the Best Deal on Performance Lab® Prebiotic Here

Stack with Performance Lab® NutriGenesis® Multi for Optimal Nutrient Status

Having a healthy gut biome isn’t in and of itself all that constitutes having “good health.” Really, a healthy gut biome more or less only opens the door to “good health,” namely by opening the door to life-essential nutrients, such as those supplied by Performance Lab® NutriGenesis® Multi.

Split into two separate formulations—a “For Men” formula and a “For Women” formula—Performance Lab® NutriGenesis® Multi delivers all the vitamins and minerals you’ll need in a probiotic-cultivated, prebiotic-infused formula that pairs perfectly with Performance Lab® Prebiotic. And NutriGenesis® Multi further assists your overall health by:

  • Providing foundational micronutrient support to fill the “nutritional gaps” typically found in our ultra-processed, nutrient-deficient diets.
  • Supporting daily vitality and long-range overall health by combatting common age-related deficiencies in vitamins and minerals.
  • Being your trusted source of vitamins and minerals with absorption-enhancing cofactors, such as probiotics, fibers, enzymes, and antioxidants.
  • Delivering gender-specific dosages and hormonal support for men and women in to separate all-natural multivitamin stacks.

With patented, probiotic-cultivated NutriGenesis® micronutrients, Performance Lab® NutriGenesis® Multi is not only an excellent trusted source of food-identical nutrients but a synergistic complement to Performance Lab® Prebiotic’s 2-in-1 inulin-FOS fiber. Taken daily, NutriGenesis® Multi + Prebiotic may go a long way in safeguarding your health and fitness against various harmful micronutrient deficiencies.

Supplement Facts: Vitamin A+ (as Retinol and Beta-Carotene), Vitamin C+, Vitamin D+, Vitamin E+, Vitamin K+ (K1 & K2), Vitamin B1+, Vitamin B2+, Niacin+, Vitamin B6+, Folate+, Vitamin B12+, Biotin+, Pantothenic Acid+, Calcium+, Iron+, Iodine+, Magnesium+, Zinc+, Selenium+, Copper+, Manganese+, GTF Chromium+, Molybdenum+, Potassium+, Inositol+, Boron+, Vanadium+

Get the Best Deal on Performance Lab® NutriGenesis® Multi Here.

Get Performance Lab Prebiotic and Add Prebiotic Foods To Your Diet

The gut is tricky. While the foods we eat significantly impacts our gut health, our gut health also influences what we eat. Hence the downward spiral of feeling bad and eating bad and feeling worse, and so on.

Fortunately, with the assistance of Performance Lab® Prebiotic, you may help disrupt this downward cycle to not only improve your intestinal microflora but also your relationship to your diet, as well as your relationship to yourself. It feels good to feel good—and feeling good is certainly a sign of a prebiotic-rich lifestyle.

Taken alone or in combination with Performance Lab® NutriGenesis® Multi’s probiotic-cultivated vitamins and minerals, Performance Lab® Prebiotic can help get your digestive and metabolic performance back on track to meet the needs of a healthy, active lifestyle.


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