Looking to add some extra health benefits to your daily routine? If you already have a favorite multivitamin, you may be considering adding a prebiotic to your daily dose of supplements. But are prebiotics the best fit for your diet and lifestyle? What are the benefits and drawbacks? Are there any weird side effects?
We’re breaking down everything you need to know before you buy that next batch of prebiotic gummies.
Prebiotics (not probiotics — we’ll get to those in a minute) are shown to offer a range of different benefits. Prebiotics can help…
- Improve your immune system
- Increase your metabolism
- Improve calcium absorption
- Help with irritable bowel syndrome-related symptoms
- Decrease bloating and gassiness
- Decrease both constipation and diarrhea
Prebiotics vs. Probiotics
However, it’s important to understand the difference between probiotics and prebiotics. Otherwise, you might find yourself accidentally picking up a tub of probiotic gummies at your local drugstore instead of the prebiotic gummies you wanted (especially when you consider that probiotics are so much more popular than prebiotics).
Probiotics are live bacteria, whereas prebiotics are types of fiber-based carbs that your gut bacteria eat. At the end of the day, both probiotics and prebiotics help to keep you healthy, feeding the right types and numbers of bacteria living within your digestive tract. These bacteria impact your health in a big way, beyond just your general gut health, by impacting your mood, immune system and other aspects of your health.
If you take or eat prebiotics while taking or eating probiotics, you can boost the probiotics’ power and see more benefits.
Prebiotics are found in a lot of foods that you might eat every day, too, such as legumes and certain fruits and vegetables (such as bananas, berries, asparagus and onions). Probiotics, on the other hand, are most often found in fermented foods, such as kimchi and sauerkraut, as well as live-culture yogurt.
Occasionally, you can find synbiotic supplements and foods, which contain both the recommended probiotics and prebiotics. Synbiotic foods include kefir and sauerkraut, as well as some types of cheese.
Should I Take a Prebiotic Supplement?
Since prebiotics are found in an array of foods that are easy enough to incorporate into your diet, should you really be taking a prebiotic supplement like prebiotic gummies?
If you’re eating a well-balanced diet filled with fresh fruits and veggies, as well as great sources of fiber, then you’re probably getting all of the prebiotics you need to feed the good bacteria in your gut, as is. However, consuming a well-rounded diet is much easier said than done and, the truth is, most of us aren’t really getting the full, well-rounded diets that we need. This is where a prebiotic supplement can come in handy.
Prebiotic supplements come in a variety of forms, including chews, powders and pills, but gummies are both popular and usually the easiest form of prebiotic supplement to incorporate into a busy lifestyle.
The primary time that you want to avoid taking a prebiotic supplement? If you’re really overdoing it. You don’t want to take too many prebiotics. Doing so can lead to the very problems that prebiotics usually help you avoid, such as gut issues like bloating and gas.
As usual, you want to talk to your health care provider before you add any supplement to your diet, including prebiotic supplements.
Best Prebiotic Gummies
Think you’d be best served by getting your daily dose of prebiotics with some convenient gummies? Here are a few of our favorite options.
These Align Prebiotic DualBiotic gummies combine all the benefits of prebiotics and a probiotic supplement, into one gummy, for greater benefits in a single dose. The Align probiotics gummies come in natural fruit flavors and contain only 1 gram of beet sugar per chewable Align gummy, plus 1 billion CFUs (colony forming units of bacteria) of the probiotic strain Bacillus Coagulans.
These gummies also combine the powers of prebiotics and probiotics for an extremely affordable price (under $10 for a 25-day supply) and a greater digestive advantage. Solimo gummies contain 2 billion CFUs per serving, along with prebiotics derived from chicory root fiber. The best part? These gummies are vegetarian and pectin-based, so they’re a great choice for those trying to avoid gummies made with animal byproducts.
If you’re primarily looking to prebiotic gummies for all the fiber-related benefits they offer, look to these gummies from Benefiber. They’re suitable for ages 12 and up and contain not only prebiotics but also probiotics. You take two gummies twice daily to get the full benefits, with 50 gummies in each container.
But, if you specifically need a prebiotic that’s suitable for children under 12, you might want to consider these BeLive gummies that are made with both kid and adult users in mind. Vegan, sugar-free and apple-flavored, they’re one of the only prebiotic gummies you can find that contain only prebiotics, not both prebiotics and probiotics. They’re made using chicory root and inulin, a type of fiber also sometimes known as fructan.
For even more benefits from one gummy, check out these gummies from MAV Nutrition. They not only contain prebiotics and probiotics but also Vitamin C, Vitamin B9 and folic acid, for even more benefits if you don’t happen to already take a multivitamin.
OLLY is one of the most popular and trendiest dietary supplement brands, widely available in most of your favorite national chains, such as Target and Walmart. This probiotic and prebiotic gummy is gluten-free and made with no artificial flavors or artificial colors. The gummies contain a particular probiotic strain that’s been researched for use in treating issues such as irritable bowel syndrome and depression.
The Not-So-Gummy Options
But, as mentioned, prebiotics don’t only come in gummy form. If you tried one of the above gummies and it wasn’t a great fit for you, try one of these other supplements.
These simple, single servings of GoBiotix prebiotics come in small tubes of powder that you can add to your water on the go, no matter where you are. They’re designed with travel in mind and, more specifically, your travel-related digestive support for constipation and other gastrointestinal issues. Gluten-free, sugar-free, vegan and keto-friendly, they’re suitable for just about everyone.
If you like the idea of a powder supplement but don’t necessarily care for all the plastic waste and the extra cost associated with travel packs like the ones above, you might like this bulk pack of Garden of Life prebiotic powder. Just take the serving size you need each day, reseal the bag and toss it into your pantry for later use. The powder contains 5 grams of prebiotic fiber per serving, which is on the low end but suitable for those who want prebiotics to help with constipation or weight loss.
For a pill option, go with these BioSchwartz prebiotic capsules. They don’t contain any probiotics, so they are purely for the prebiotics and related digestive health benefits. Vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free and third party-tested, this option is intended to work quickly, relieving daily digestive system worries such as bloating or diarrhea, fast.
Getting Your Prebiotics Naturally
Are you more interested in getting your prebiotics naturally? Here are a few recipes that will allow you to incorporate prebiotic-filled foods into your diet with ease.
A Prebiotic Bowl
For a quick meal-prepped lunch, try one of these prebiotic bowls (which are also possible to make in a probiotic variant). Macro bowls, these bowls contain all of the macronutrients you might be trying to incorporate into your diet, such as carbs, fat and protein. A quick, healthful and prebiotic-filled macro bowl might include spaghetti squash, beets, zucchini, leafy greens, some sauerkraut, eggs and avocado, along with some kefir.
A Prebiotic Smoothie
If you’d rather get all your vital nutrients for the day via a quick breakfast smoothie, we have you covered there, too. These prebiotic smoothies combine probiotic milk with prebiotic-containing fruits and veggies such as blueberries, strawberries and bananas, and then oats.
Speaking of oats, if you’d rather get your prebiotics in via a bowl of great-tasting, quick overnight oats, you can try this recipe that’s just as versatile as it is easy. With Greek yogurt, old-fashioned oats, non-dairy milk and the toppings of your choice, you can have a quick, portable breakfast that’s filled with all the prebiotics you need for a healthy day.
Plant-Based Dinner-Ready Prebiotic Meals
For savory-leaning dishes that are hearty and suitable for more robust meals, such as a full dinner, check out this list of One Green Planet’s favorite plant-based prebiotic recipes. Choose from options such as leek quiche, grilled asparagus, caramelized onion pasta dishes, red onion focaccia and more.
What to Look For When Shopping for a Prebiotic Supplement
If you decide to get your prebiotics through a supplement, though, there are a few things you’ll want to look out for.
As is the case when taking any new supplement, for a healthy gut or otherwise, you want to ensure that the supplement has been third-party tested. Since supplements aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, the manufacturers might make certain claims that aren’t necessarily true. Third-party testing (by a trusted third-party tester) can help to prevent this and ensure you’re actually getting the benefits from your supplement — prebiotic or otherwise — that you want.
You also want to look at the amount of prebiotics contained in one serving of a supplement. If the quantity seems on the larger side (see below), then you may want to either opt for a prebiotic supplement with a smaller amount in each serving or halve your serving size. This is because if your body isn’t accustomed to the right amount of prebiotics, suddenly introducing them can be a bit of a shock to the system and lead to some unpleasant side effects.
Prebiotics count toward your daily fiber intake, and you don’t want to exceed more than 25–38 grams of fiber per day if your body isn’t familiar with large amounts of fiber. Most prebiotics contain about 5 grams of fiber per serving.
Prebiotic supplement side effects
While, for the most part, prebiotic supplement side effects are nothing to worry about, it is the case that your prebiotic might make you feel a bit “off” at first. You might feel a bit gassy or bloated until your body becomes accustomed to the prebiotics. If you find that you’re feeling this way, consider cutting down the amount of prebiotics you’re taking.
Additionally, for those who have irritable bowel syndrome or who follow a low FODMAP diet, prebiotics can actually do more harm than good. So, while many prebiotic supplements will claim to help with irritable bowel syndrome-related symptoms, do note that sometimes they can work the other way, increasing your symptoms. It all depends on the individual and, for those who suffer from known and named gastrointestinal issues, it’s always best to talk to your gastroenterologist before you begin taking a prebiotic supplement.
Are Prebiotics Right for You?
Just like any supplement, prebiotics come with their caveats. Approach them with a degree of caution, and you might just find a great addition to your health regimen. Concerned about possible side effects or how prebiotic supplements like prebiotic gummies might impact any existing conditions, especially gastrointestinal worries? Talk to your doctor to see if one of the above options is right for you.
You might also be interested in: Are Prebiotic Sodas the New Sparkling Water? [And 6 Brands You’ll Want To Try]
Best Prebiotic Gummies
- Align DualBiotic
- Solimo Prebiotic and Probiotic Gummies
- Benefiber Prebiotic Fiber Supplement
- BeLive Fiber Prebiotics for Both Kids and Adults
- MAV Nutrition Daily Probiotic Gummies with Vitamin C and Folic Acid
- OLLY Probotic + Prebiotic Gummies
Non Gummy Prebiotics
- GoBiotix Prebiotic Fiber Boost Travel Pack
- Garden of Life Prebiotic Organic Fiber
- BioSchwartz Advanced Prebiotic