Find out why this trending ingredient is worth the hype.
Probiotics, the much discussed bacteria that keep your gut healthy, have been in the spotlight for a while. But now, there's a new ingredient sharing their popularity.
The prebiotics market has surged in recent years. Its popularity can be linked to its health benefits and wide range of food, beverage, and dietary supplement applications. Here is everything you need to know about this exciting ingredient.
Prebiotics are a type of non-digestible fiber that provides unique health benefits. Prebiotics promote good bacteria in your gut by acting as "food" for them. They support healthy gut bacteria, also known as the gut microbiome.
One unique aspect about prebiotics is that they are non-digestible, contain very few calories, and do not spike blood sugar levels like table sugar despite having a sweet taste. These aspects of prebiotics allow them to be used as alternative sweeteners.*
Prebiotics are far from new—scientists have been researching them for decades. However, they’ve garnered global attention in recent years for their ability to impact the gut microbiome. The gut microbiome is central to our overall health, as it affects our immune, digestive, and cardiovascular systems. Through their impact on the gut microbiome, prebiotics bring a wide range of benefits for our health and wellbeing.
The benefits of prebiotics are not limited to the digestive system—they may also help stabilize blood sugar levels. Consistent intake of prebiotic fibers helps slow the rate of glucose absorption*. When glucose is absorbed slowly, blood sugar levels rise slowly, preventing sudden spikes. Prebiotic fibers also help maintain normal laxation, relieving constipation*. Lastly, prebiotics have been linked to increased intestinal absorption of calcium.* All the more reason to love prebiotics!
You’ve probably heard of probiotics, but do you know the difference between prebiotics and probiotics? They sound similar but have very different functions. Probiotics are good bacteria that live in your gut. The body naturally has trillions of bacteria. Some bacteria are good, while others are bad. A higher number of bad bacteria in the gut is linked to health complications such as inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, and allergic disorders. Probiotics contain good bacteria that can help eliminate the bad bacteria, supporting your gut and overall health. Probiotics can be taken as a dietary supplement or consumed through foods such as yogurt, kimchi, or pickles.
So, where do prebiotics fit into all of this?
Prebiotics improve the probiotics' composition and activity in your gut by acting as "food" for the good bacteria. Probiotics are the good bacteria, and prebiotics are the fuel to the good bacteria. Together, prebiotics and probiotics help improve your gut microbiome and, in turn, boost your overall health.
Let's eat some prebiotics! Foods rich in prebiotics are also rich in a wide range of other nutrients such as fiber, vitamins, and minerals, making them a great addition to any diet. Various whole grains and vegetables are excellent sources of prebiotics. Inulin, the most studied type of prebiotic, is naturally found in leeks, asparagus, onions, wheat, garlic, chicory root, oats, soybeans, and Jerusalem artichokes.
Most people in the United States do not consume enough whole grains or vegetables, which happen to be the best dietary sources of prebiotics. Adding these nutrient-dense foods to your diet is an excellent first step to increasing your prebiotic intake and supporting your overall health. In addition to dietary sources, supplemental prebiotics are also available. Supplemental prebiotics are often not marketed with the term "prebiotics." To get the most studied prebiotics for health benefits, look for the following terms: inulin, fructooligosaccharides (FOS), galactooligosaccharides (GOS), or oligosaccharides (HMOs).
Research around prebiotics is still evolving, so there is no established recommended intake for prebiotics. However, around 3-5g of prebiotics per day is typically enough to reap the gut health benefits, according to the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics.* This dosage range includes prebiotics from both dietary and supplemental sources.
Consumers are becoming more knowledgeable as research around prebiotics and their benefits evolves. “Prebiotics” has even become a buzzword for health-seeking consumers. This consumer knowledge is reflected in the increased demand for prebiotics products. In 2020, the global prebiotic association grew by 50%! Prebiotic manufacturers and vendors are pursuing ways to meet the needs of this growing market. According to a new study by Global Market Insights, the prebiotics market is expected to exceed USD 9.5 billion by 2027!
Two of the most significant applications for prebiotics are food & beverage and dietary supplements. In the food and beverage sector, prebiotics can function as sugar alternatives to meet the market's need for reduced-sugar beverages and foods that still taste good. Additionally, prebiotics’ ability to confer health benefits is expected to drive the demand for prebiotics in dietary supplement form.
The massive potential benefits, coupled with consumers' growing interest, make the future of the prebiotics market very promising!
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.