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Prebiotics are some of the most commonly used supplements worldwide. As of 2012, other than vitamins and minerals, prebiotics and probiotics were the most popular supplements among adults in America.
More than 1.5% of American adults and 0.5% of children have used prebiotics in a 30-day period. Prebiotic-containing foods have been consumed throughout human history, including in prehistoric times. However, some people may not understand what prebiotics are, or how they differ from probiotics.
We have investigated scientific journals for the best and most recent information about prebiotics and have identified the top 6 prebiotic supplements on Amazon.
What Are Prebiotics?
Prebiotics are generally considered to be fibrous components of food that are not able to be digested by the body. Instead, they help the growth or activity of helpful gut bacteria. To be classified as a prebiotic, an ingredient must:
-Resist being broken down by stomach acid
-Resist being broken down by enzymes during digestion
-Be fermented by bacteria in the intestines
-Stimulate the growth and activity of helpful gut microflora, and not the growth and activity of possibly dangerous microflora
What is the Difference Between Prebiotics, Probiotics and Synbiotics?
Although prebiotics, probiotics and synbiotics are related concepts, they are different from one another. When searching for the best prebiotic supplement, it is helpful to bear in mind these different terms, as one or more of them may show up on the package labeling.
Probiotics are live, good bacteria. These microorganisms are believed to have a helpful effect on the gut and may improve overall health. Many species of lactobacillus and bifidobacterium fit into this category. Probiotics can be found naturally in yogurt and fermented foods, and can also be purchased as supplements. Some of their benefits on the body may include:
-Killing damaged cells that may cause disease
-Making vitamins that your body can use
-Keeping your gut full of healthy bacteria, making it a less hospitable place for dangerous bacteria
Prebiotics are not bacteria. Rather, they are fibrous nutrients that help the good bacteria in probiotics thrive. Although humans cannot digest prebiotics, good bacteria can, and survive by digesting them.
They occur naturally in foods like wheat, onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, chicory, Jerusalem artichokes, oats, and soybeans. Other ingredients like inulin, lactulose, resistant starch, oligofructose, fructooligosaccharides, galactooligosaccharides, transgalactooligosaccharides, polydextrose, wheat dextrin, acacia gum, psyllium, banana, whole grain wheat, and whole grain corn also act as prebiotics.
Prebiotics are present in low amounts in most foods, and, therefore, supplementation may be useful.
Notably, some prebiotic manufacturers include ingredients in their products, such as bacteria-specific viruses, that are meant to harm damaging bacteria, and may or may not also include fiber to actively promote the growth of good bacteria.
Synbiotics refer to a combination of probiotics and prebiotics. For example, if a supplement contains both a probiotic and a prebiotic, it is referred to as a symbiotic product. Synbiotics have been shown to increase the amount of helpful gut bacteria.
What are the Health Benefits of Prebiotics?
Prebiotics have been getting scientific attention since the 1990s, and doctors are still figuring out exactly how they are beneficial. However, scientists think that prebiotics may have benefits like:
-Stopping infectious diarrhea
-Reducing symptoms from inflammatory bowel disease
-Protect against colon cancer
-Promote absorption of minerals like calcium, magnesium and iron
-Protect against cardiovascular disease
-Promote weight loss
What is the Best Prebiotic Supplement?
Many types of prebiotics exist and have been studied over the past 25 years since prebiotics first attracted scientific attention. These include:
-Fructans: contains prebiotics like inulin, fructooligosaccharides and oligofructose which can stimulate helpful bacteria. Notably, some fructans may stimulate other bacterial species as well. Although fructooligosaccharides are present in about 36,000 known plants, it is at a very low concentration. Fructooligosaccharides and inulin have been shown to increase the amount of bifidobacterial even at a low dose of 5 to 8 grams daily.
-Galactooligossaccharides: these prebiotics are chemically related to lactose and can stimulate helpful intestinal bacteria like bifidobacteria and lactobacilli. Although other bacteria can be stimulated by galactooligosaccharides, it is to a much lesser extent than helpful bacteria.
-Resistant starch and glucose-derived oligosaccharides: these prebiotics produce a lot of the fermentation product butyrate, which can help the body’s cells lining the intestines and help protect against colon cancer
As ingredients in prebiotic supplements, these chemical subtypes of prebiotics are found in many ingredients including:
-Jerusalem artichoke root: Jerusalem artichoke is not a member of the artichoke family. Instead, it is a tuberous type of sunflower. It is also known as sunroot, sunchoke, or earth apple. The species is native to North America and grows wild in some places. Studies have shown that the fructooligosaccharides in this agent improve the growth of the good bacteria bifidobacterium bifidum and helps to control pH.
-Chicory root: Chicory is a woody perennial plant related to dandelions that grows wild in Europe. The high content of the prebiotic inulin in chicory root has been found to have numerous benefits in studies, including stabilizing blood sugar, helping calcium absorption, and protecting against inflammation and colon cancer.
-Acacia: Acacia is a type of tree and shrub that is native to the tropical regions of Africa. Acacia gum has been found to be even more potent than inulin at increasing the amount of the good bacteria lactobacilli and bifidobacterial, without as much side effects like gas or bloating.
-Green bananas: Bananas are one of the most popular fruits in the world. Eating two bananas daily was shown to increase the amount of the good bacteria bifidobacteria.
The Top 6 Best Prebiotic Supplement Reviews
We have scoured medical studies and customer product reviews to pick the top 6 best prebiotic supplements for you. Each supplement contains a link to buy the product on Amazon, plus a description of why it was one of our top-ranked choices.
Why we love it: Physicians Choice combines both prebiotics and probiotics in this product, making it a synbiotic.
The product contains 150 mg of a prebiotic fiber blend. While the product itself is not labeled organic, the prebiotic fiber blend is organic per the manufacturer. The prebiotics include:
-Jerusalem artichoke root
-A patented prebiotic called fibregum bio
The product also contains 10 strains of beneficial probiotic organisms:
-Lactobacillus acidophilus (La-14)
-Lactobacillus casei (Lc-11)
-Lactobacillus paracasei (Lpc-37)
-Lactobacillus salivarius (Ls-33)
-Lactobacillus plantarum (Lp-115)
-Bifidobacterium lactis (Bl-04)
-Bifidobacterium bifidum (Bb-02)
-Bifidobacterium longum (Bl-05)
-Bifidobacterium breve (Bb-03)
-Lactobacillus bulgaricus (Lb-87).
Other ingredients include maltodextrin derived from rice for increased probiotic effect as well as the amino acid L-leucine. The recommended dose is one veggie capsule once daily.
The product comes in a bottle of 30 capsules and contains no binders or preservatives. It is also free of allergens including soy, gluten, milk, egg, wheat, peanuts, and shellfish. It is third-party tested for purity. Further, the product is manufactured in the United States and is compliant with the FDA’s Certified Good Manufacturing Practices, carrying a GMP label to this effect.
The capsules are delayed-release, meaning that they are designed to slowly release their contents in the small intestine. Further, the capsule is acid-resistant, meaning that it is formulated to resist breaking down in the acidic environment of the stomach.
The product is shelf-stable and does not need to be refrigerated, in part because of the packaging which is resistant to moisture. For this reason, the capsules should remain in the original packaging and should not be put into another container such as a pillbox. Amazon users tend to like this product, stating that the capsules are small and easy to swallow.
Why we love it: Nature’s Way’s Alive! is a liquid product that may be useful for people who have trouble swallowing pills.
It is available both in a citrus as well as a berry flavor. It’s a supplement chock full of fiber and contains a patented blend of fructooligosaccharides as prebiotics. The serving size of the product is 15 mL, or one tablespoon, if 5 grams of fiber is desired, including 1 gram of the prebiotic.
For a higher dose of 10 grams of fiber including 2 grams of prebiotic, 30 mL, or two tablespoons can be taken. The product can be taken up to twice daily. As one bottle is 480 mL of liquid, it contains enough supplement for 32 servings of 15 mL each: the amount of time this lasts will depend on how much and how often the person takes it.
The product is sugar-free and is sweetened with stevia leaf extract, and is 15 calories per tablespoon. It contains fruit powders from pomegranate seeds, plum, pear, apple, strawberry, açaí, grape, cranberry, cherry, blueberry, apricot, papaya, orange, and pineapple. Other ingredients include water, natural flavors, citric acid and potassium sorbate as preservatives, malic acid and xanthan gum.
The product is vegetarian and gluten-free. It contains no artificial coloring, flavoring, dairy products, eggs, gluten, soy, sugar, wheat, or yeast. Amazon users like this product, giving it high ratings. It is unclear if the product needs to be refrigerated after being opened per the package labeling.
Why we love it: Hyperbiotics prebiotic product comes in a powder formulation that can be added to liquids or a variety of foods as desired.
Each serving gives 7 grams of prebiotics, which are derived from acacia, Jerusalem artichoke and green bananas.
The serving size of the product is one scoop once daily, and a bottle contains 54 servings. Although the product is made in the USA, the ingredients are sourced globally. The acacia fiber is collected from multiple countries in sub-Saharan Africa and then is processed in France, the Jerusalem artichoke fiber is sourced from China, and the green banana flour is sourced from Ecuador.
The bottle is recyclable. The product is organic and carries a USDA-certified label to this effect. It is non-GMO, meaning that it contains no genetically modified organisms, although it does not carry a non-GMO label.
It is free of gluten, however it does not carry a gluten-free label. It also contains no wheat, psyllium, soy, nuts, eggs, shellfish, and dairy, however the facility in which it is manufactured may handle these ingredients. It also contains no preservatives, artificial colors or artificial flavors. The manufacturer recommends not heating the powder to maintain effectiveness, instead adding it to hot beverages or foods at the end of the cooking process.
Amazon users tend to like this product, although they note that it does not dissolve in water and, therefore, should be added to other substances.
Why we love it: BeLive’s supplements come in a gummy formulation that may be helpful for people who have problems swallowing pills.
It is designed for both children and adults. A serving size is 1 gummy, which contains 7 calories and no sugar.
As a bottle contains 40 gummies, it will last for about a month and a half. The prebiotic content of each gummy is almost 6 grams: 3.35 grams from chicory root, and 2.5 grams from fructooligosaccharides. It also contains maltitol, isomalt, water, citrus pectin, citric acid, lemon juice, adipic acid, sodium citrate, natural apple flavor, black carrot juice and beta carotene. The product is sugar free and vegan-friendly.
It also is free of dairy, nut, gluten, seafood and soy. It contains no GMO substances, meaning that it contains no genetically modified organisms, although it does not carry a non-GMO label. The product is cGMP-certified in an FDA registered facility, meaning that the manufacturer complies with the FDA’s certified good manufacturing practices, and carries a label to this effect.
It is made in the United States, although the ingredients are sourced from the Middle East. Amazon users generally like this product and give it high ratings. While one user did not like the taste, most others stated that they taste great.
Although one user noted that it is more expensive than other prebiotic gummy products, they also said that it worked much better than the other products.
Why we love it: Dr. Tobias product comes as capsules.
It works differently than standard prebiotics in that it does not contain fiber to nourish good bacteria. Rather, it contains viral substances targeted to damage harmful bacteria. For this reason, it is possible to take this particular product along with another standard fiber-based prebiotic.
Each capsule contains 15 mg of a proprietary blend of myoviridae (lh01, t4d and ll12) and siphoviridae (ll5). The vegetarian capsule is made from vegetable cellulose, gellan gum and purified water.
Other ingredients include medium-chain triglycerides and low-moisture rice dextran. It is non-GMO, meaning that it contains no genetically modified organisms, and carries a label to that effect. No refrigeration is required. The product is third-party tested and made in the United States. It is also GMP-certified, meaning that the manufacturer complies with the FDA’s current Good Manufacturing Practices, and carries a label stating this. A serving size is one capsule once daily, and the manufacturer recommends taking it with a meal.
A bottle contains 30 capsules, or a 30-day supply.
Users should note that the facility where the product is produced also manufactures and packages products containing milk, soy, wheat, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish. Amazon users like this product and give it high reviews, stating that the capsules are small and easy to swallow.
Why we love it: BioShwartz’s prebiotic is similar to Dr. Tobias prebiotic in that it contains viral substances targeted to damage harmful bacteria.
Each serving contains 15 mg of a proprietary blend of myoviridae (lh01, t4d and ll12) and siphoviridae (ll5). However, each serving also contains standard prebiotics such as 1 gram of a proprietary xylooligosaccharide blend. It also contains a small, 5 mg dose of vitamin C and organic oryza sativa. The product is available in capsules and the serving size is 2 capsules once daily.
The product is vegan and contains non-GMO ingredients, meaning that it contains no genetically modified organisms. It is also free of soy, gluten, wheat, tree nuts, peanuts, sugar, preservatives and artificial colors.
It is third-party tested and GMP-certified, meaning that it complies with the FDA’s good manufacturing processes, and carries a label stating this. It is also gluten-free, carrying a label to this effect as well. Each bottle contains 30 capsules, or a 60 day supply, and dose not require refrigeration.
Amazon users generally like this product, stating that it is easy to swallow.
Prebiotics, probiotics and synbiotics have been a hot topic of scientific research over the past 25 years. Doctors are still learning more about them, including their subtypes, chemistry, and how they interact with bacteria in the intestines to promote health.
As some of the most popular supplements in the United States, many people have found improvements in both their stomach, bowel and overall health from taking prebiotics.