Blog Nutrition 10 Benefits of Prebiotics, According to Science

10 Benefits of Prebiotics, According to Science

Your gut is more than just a food processing factory; it’s home to trillions of bacteria that form a complex ecosystem. These bacteria play crucial roles in many bodily functions. They help digest your food, boost your immune system, and regulate your mood.

Influence from these bacteria, or microbiota, is so profound that scientists often refer to the gut as the “second brain.”

Recent research has shone a spotlight on prebiotics, a type of dietary fiber, in the intricate relationship between gut bacteria and our health (13) Let’s explore 10 science-backed benefits of incorporating prebiotics into your diet.

But first, what exactly are prebiotics?

What Do Prebiotics Do?

Prebiotics are non-digestible fibers that serve as a food source for beneficial bacteria in your gut. They are found in many plant-based foods, including fruits, vegetables, and whole grains (15).

Upon consumption, prebiotics resist digestion in the small intestine and progress unchanged to the large intestine or colon.

Here, they encounter the gut microbiota they’re designed to feed. Beneficial bacteria, primarily from groups such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli, then ferment these fibers (15).

The fermentation process has multiple outcomes:

  • It produces short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), including butyrate, acetate, and propionate, which nourish colon cells, promote the absorption of minerals, and help regulate cholesterol synthesis and glucose production (11).
  • It increases the population of beneficial bacteria that can crowd out harmful pathogens (30).
  • It leads to a decrease in pH levels in the gut, which creates an unfavorable environment for bad bacteria to thrive (2).
  • It strengthens the intestinal barrier, which prevents harmful substances from entering the bloodstream (11).

Prebiotics are not the same as probiotics.  Probiotics are live microorganisms that provide health benefits when they’re consumed. They can be found in fermented foods such as yogurt, kimchi, and kefir.

Prebiotics serve as “food” for probiotics, helping them survive and thrive in the gut. Together, they form a symbiotic relationship that promotes digestive health and overall well-being (30).

See also
The Top 6 Winter Green Salad Recipes 

Yanking yourself back in shape has never been so easy with our game-changing fitness app! Start transforming your life with BetterMe!

10 Benefits of Prebiotics

Prebiotics have gained significant attention in recent years due to their potential health benefits. Here are 10 science-backed advantages of incorporating prebiotics into your diet:

1. Increases in Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli

When you consume prebiotics, you’re providing fuel for certain beneficial bacteria in your gut, specifically Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli. These are the good guys that help maintain a healthy balance in your gut environment (21).

An increased population of these bacteria can boost your immune system, improve digestion, and reduce the risk of certain infections. By eating prebiotic-rich foods, you’re directly contributing to a stronger, more balanced microbiome (1). This means you’ll experience fewer digestive issues and have a happier gut.

2. Production of Beneficial Metabolites

The fermentation of prebiotics by gut bacteria leads to the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) such as butyrate, acetate, and propionate (30). These SCFAs are essential for your health; they reduce intestinal pH, promote the growth of beneficial bacteria such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus, and act as an energy source for colonocytes (15).

SCFAs also have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help improve conditions that are related to inflammation in the gut (15).

In addition to SCFAs, gut bacteria produce other beneficial metabolites such as vitamins and polyphenols. Some of these include B vitamins such as folate, vitamin K, and biotin, which play essential roles in various bodily functions such as energy metabolism and immune system regulation (4). 

Polyphenols are plant-based compounds that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which can be beneficial to your overall health (5).

Gut bacteria also produce neurotransmitters such as serotonin and GABA, which are essential for regulating mood and behavior. These metabolites can help alleviate distress (22).

  benefits of prebiotics

3. Increases in Calcium Absorption

Another significant benefit of prebiotics is their ability to enhance calcium absorption. This is particularly important for building and maintaining strong bones. When prebiotics are fermented by the gut flora, this lowers the pH in the colon, which facilitates the absorption of minerals such as calcium (15).

See also
Natural Antihistamines: The Best Remedies For Your Allergies

This means that including prebiotics in your diet can help your body make better use of the calcium you consume, which contributes to bone health (32).

4. Decreases in Protein Fermentation

When the gut lacks sufficient prebiotics, the gut bacteria may start to ferment dietary protein instead. This produces harmful metabolites such as ammonia and sulfides, which have been linked to an increased risk of digestive issues (12).

In contrast, a diet that is rich in prebiotics can decrease protein fermentation, which leads to a healthier gut environment and reduced risk of disease (18).

5. Decreases in Pathogenic Bacteria Populations

Pathogenic bacteria are the “bad guys” that can cause infections and disrupt the balance of your gut microbiome. Prebiotics help tip the scales in favor of good bacteria, which compete with pathogenic bacteria for both food and attachment sites in the gut (30). This competition can reduce the number of harmful bacteria in your gut, thereby lowering the risk of illness and infection.

The fermentation of prebiotics leads to the production of short-chain fatty acids that lower the pH in the gut, which makes it a less favorable environment for pathogenic bacteria.

This means a lower risk of infections and a more balanced gut microbiome, which contributes to overall health and well-being.

Read more: 24 Weight Loss Smoothies, 2 Diet Plans, and 5 Belly Fat Smoothie Secrets

6. Decreases in Allergy Risk

Allergies are caused by an overactive immune response to harmless substances such as pollen, food proteins, or dust. The composition of your gut microbiome can influence the development and severity of allergies.

Studies have shown that prebiotics can help prevent the development of allergies by promoting beneficial bacteria growth, supporting a healthy immune system response, and reducing inflammation in the gut (31).

Prebiotics may also play a role in preventing or managing other inflammatory conditions (17).

7. Enhances Weight Management

Prebiotics may also play a role in weight management and obesity prevention. Some studies have shown that the consumption of prebiotic-rich foods can lead to reduced body fat, improved satiety (feeling full), and decreased calorie intake (19).

See also
Fish Sauce For Cooking: Learn More About This Popular Ingredient For Southeast Asian Cuisine

The fermentation of prebiotics in the gut produces SCFAs, which can suppress the production of hunger hormones and increase the release of satiety hormones (25). This means that incorporating prebiotic foods into your diet could help you feel full for longer, which can lead to lower calorie intake and potentially help with weight loss.

8. Improves Glucose Control

Prebiotics may also play a role in the regulation of blood sugar levels. Some research has suggested that the production of SCFAs from prebiotic fermentation can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood glucose levels. This could be beneficial for those with diabetes or who are at risk of developing it (3).

benefits of prebiotics

9. Effects on Gut Barrier Permeability

Prebiotics have a crucial role in strengthening the gut barrier, a vital lining that prevents harmful substances from leaking into the bloodstream (14).

When you consume prebiotics, they help increase the production of intestinal mucus and the regeneration of gut cells, which effectively enhances the integrity of the gut barrier. Toxins, harmful bacteria, and undigested food particles are less likely to penetrate the gut wall and cause health issues (14).

Essentially, a stronger gut barrier protects you from inflammation, which ensures your body effectively absorbs nutrients while keeping out harmful substances (24).

10. Improved Immune System Defense

Your immune system is heavily influenced by the state of your gut microbiota. Consuming prebiotics nourishes beneficial bacteria, which produce substances that boost your immune system’s defense mechanisms (33).

For example, the increased production of short-chain fatty acids (such as butyrate) nurtures your gut lining and also helps regulate immune function and reduce inflammation (23).

This means that by incorporating prebiotics in your diet, you’re directly supporting your body’s ability to fend off infections and illnesses. An improved immune system defense translates to fewer sick days, a reduced risk of chronic diseases, and overall better health.

How Do You Know If You Need Prebiotics?

We all need prebiotics in our diet to maintain a healthy gut microbiome, but some factors can increase your need for them, including:

  • Antibiotic use: Taking antibiotics can kill off good bacteria in the gut, which makes it harder for beneficial bacteria to thrive and increases the need for prebiotics (8).
  • High sugar or processed food intake: Consuming too much sugar and processed foods can negatively impact the diversity and balance of your gut microbiome, potentially reducing beneficial bacteria populations (7).
  • Digestive issues: If you experience digestive problems such as constipation, diarrhea, or bloating, this could be a sign that your gut flora is imbalanced. Incorporating prebiotics into your diet may help improve these symptoms (9).
  • Immune system disorders: Conditions that affect the immune system, such as allergies, may benefit from the immune-boosting effects of prebiotics (20).
See also
The Food-Lover's Guide To The Best Foods For Joint Health

If you fall into any of these categories, consulting a healthcare professional or registered dietitian can help you determine the best way to incorporate prebiotic-rich foods into your diet.

If you wish to cinch your waist, tone up your bat wings, blast away the muffin top – our fitness app was created to cater to all your needs! BetterMe won’t give excess weight a chance!

What Are the Top 5 Prebiotic Foods?

Prebiotics can be found in a wide variety of plant-based foods, including:

  • Garlic and onions: These pungent vegetables contain inulin, a type of prebiotic fiber that promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria (6).
  • Chicory root: A common ingredient in coffee substitutes, chicory root is rich in inulin and other prebiotic fibers (16).
  • Whole grains: Whole grains such as oats, wheat, and barley contain a type of prebiotic fiber called beta-glucan (34).
  • Bananas: Ripe bananas are an excellent source of resistant starch, a prebiotic that feeds beneficial bacteria in the gut (29).
  • Jerusalem artichokes: Also known as sunchokes, these root vegetables are packed with inulin and other beneficial fibers (16).

Other excellent sources of prebiotics include legumes, asparagus, leeks, and apples.

What Happens When You Take Prebiotics Every Day?

When you eat prebiotic-rich foods daily, you’re providing your gut microbiome with the fuel it needs to thrive. This can lead to various benefits, including improved digestion, better immune system function, and reduced risk of chronic diseases (15).

See also
Healthy Soul Food: The Guilt-Free Way To Eat Your Favorite Comfort Food

As most prebiotic-rich foods are also fibrous, you may experience some side effects of a sudden increase in fiber intake, such as:

  • Gas and bloating: As your gut bacteria ferment the prebiotic fibers, they produce gas. This can lead to temporary discomfort until your body adjusts.
  • Changes in bowel movements: A potential side effect of increased fiber intake is changes in bowel habits, such as looser stools or more frequent bowel movements.

There are some steps you can take to minimize or avoid these side effects. Gradually increasing your intake of prebiotic-rich foods over time can help your body adjust. Drinking plenty of water and staying physically active can also help with digestion and prevent constipation.

Read more: Healthy Thanksgiving Desserts: How To Maintain Your Diet This Festive Season

Do I Need Prebiotic Supplements?

Getting prebiotics from food sources is the ideal way to incorporate them into your diet. However, prebiotic supplements can be particularly helpful for:

  • Those who require a higher intake of prebiotics
  • Those who have difficulty consuming enough through their diet
  • Those who want to target a specific type of prebiotic for therapeutic purposes

Before you consider prebiotic supplementation, you should consult a healthcare professional to determine the best course of action for your individual needs. They can also help you choose a high-quality supplement and ensure it won’t interact with any medications you may be taking.

benefits of prebiotics for weight loss


  • Can prebiotics flatten your stomach?

Prebiotics don’t directly cause weight loss or the flattening of your stomach. However, by promoting a healthy gut microbiome and improving digestion, prebiotics can indirectly contribute to maintaining a healthy weight (19). They’re a great addition to proper diet and exercise.

  • How long does it take to see the effects of prebiotics?

You may notice changes in your digestion and overall health within a few weeks of consistently incorporating prebiotic-rich foods into your diet. However, it may take longer before you see significant effects on immune system function.

  • Do prebiotics speed up metabolism?

Prebiotics don’t directly speed up metabolism, but they can support a healthy gut microbiome, which may improve metabolism and help with weight management (27). However, more research is needed to fully understand the connection between prebiotics and metabolism.

  • Do prebiotics improve mood?

Research on the gut-brain axis suggests that gut microbiome health may have a significant impact on mental well-being. Some theories suggest that:

  • By improving digestion and reducing symptoms of digestive disorders, prebiotics may indirectly improve mood
  • Prebiotics can reduce inflammation in the body, which has been linked to depression and anxiety (26)
  • Prebiotics may produce neurotransmitters that can positively affect mood (22)
  • A diverse and balanced gut microbiome can improve overall health (10), which leads to better mood and mental clarity.

More research is needed to fully understand the connection between prebiotics and mood, but incorporating them into your diet may have positive effects on your mental health.

The Bottom Line

The gut microbiome plays a crucial role in our overall health, and consuming prebiotic-rich foods can support its diversity and balance. By incorporating these foods into our diets, we can potentially experience improved digestion, better immune system function, and a reduced risk of chronic diseases.

However, it’s important that you consult a healthcare professional before you make any significant changes to your diet, particularly if you have specific health conditions or are considering prebiotic supplementation.


This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!


  1. Bifidobacteria and Their Role as Members of the Human Gut Microbiota (2016,
  2. Effect of pH on an In Vitro Model of Gastric Microbiota in Enteral Nutrition Patients (2005,
  3. Effects of Prebiotic and Synbiotic Supplementation on Glycaemia and Lipid Profile in Type 2 Diabetes: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials (2018,
  4. Functions of Gut Microbiota Metabolites, Current Status and Future Perspectives (2022,
  5. Health benefits of polyphenols: A concise review (2022,
  6. Health Effects and Sources of Prebiotic Dietary Fiber (2018,
  7. High Intake of Sugar and the Balance between Pro- and Anti-Inflammatory Gut Bacteria (2020,
  8. Impact of antibiotics on the human microbiome and consequences for host health (2022,
  9. Impacts of Gut Bacteria on Human Health and Diseases (2015,
  10. Influence of Foods and Nutrition on the Gut Microbiome and Implications for Intestinal Health (2022,
  11. Intestinal Short Chain Fatty Acids and their Link with Diet and Human Health (2016,
  12. Microbial Fermentation of Dietary Protein: An Important Factor in Diet–Microbe–Host Interaction (2019,
  13. Molecular link between dietary fibre, gut microbiota and health (2020,
  14. Overview of the Importance of Biotics in Gut Barrier Integrity (2022,
  15. Prebiotics: Definition, Types, Sources, Mechanisms, and Clinical Applications (2019,
  16. Prebiotics and the Health Benefits of Fiber: Current Regulatory Status, Future Research, and Goals (2012,
  17. Prebiotics in atopic dermatitis prevention and management (2021,
  18. Prebiotics Inhibit Proteolysis by Gut Bacteria in a Host Diet-Dependent Manner: a Three-Stage Continuous In Vitro Gut Model Experiment (2020,
  19. Probiotics, prebiotics and synbiotics for weight loss and metabolic syndrome in the microbiome era (2018,
  20. Probiotics in Autoimmune and Inflammatory Disorders (2018,
  21. Rational use of prebiotics for gut microbiota alterations: Specific bacterial phylotypes and related mechanisms (2020,
  22. Regulation of Neurotransmitters by the Gut Microbiota and Effects on Cognition in Neurological Disorders (2021,
  23. Regulation of short-chain fatty acids in the immune system (2023,
  24. Role of prebiotics, probiotics, and synbiotics in management of inflammatory bowel disease: Current perspectives (2023,
  25. Short chain fatty acids: the messengers from down below (2023,
  26. The Benefits of Prebiotics and Probiotics on Mental Health (2023,
  27. The Gut Microbiota: The Gateway to Improved Metabolism (2017,
  28. The Impact of Diet and Lifestyle on Gut Microbiota and Human Health (2015,
  29. The Potential Roles of Probiotics, Resistant Starch, and Resistant Proteins in Ameliorating Inflammation during Aging (Inflammaging) (2022,
  30. The promotion mechanism of prebiotics for probiotics: A review (2022,
  31. The Role of Prebiotics and Probiotics in Prevention of Allergic Diseases in Infants (2020,
  32. The use of calcium and vitamin D in the management of osteoporosis (2008,
  33. Unveiling the therapeutic symphony of probiotics, prebiotics, and postbiotics in gut-immune harmony (2024,
  34. Yeast β-glucan, a potential prebiotic, showed a similar probiotic activity to inulin (2020,
150 million people
have chosen BetterMe

I've struggled to maintain programs…

I've struggled to maintain programs before, but somehow I've been able to stick with this. I enjoy the workouts and have made healthy changes to my diet with the challenges. Its nice for something to really have stuck and worked. I did the sugar free challenge and it's really changed how I relate to the signals my body is giving me about the food I'm eating.

Our Journey

This has been an awesome journey for my wife and I. Not only are we losing weight , but we are living a new life style. Our eating habits have been reformed by following the meal plan and our bodies have become stronger by simply doing the ten minute, sometimes twenty minute workouts. It really has been easy and convenient to transition into a healthier routine and has truly re energized our lives moving forward into the future.

It Works! This program is working for me!

lynne R.
This program is working for me! After a little over a month, I have lost 10 pounds. Slow, but steady. Guided exercises are done daily and there is an option to do other routines beside the one chosen for the day. It is very helpful having the recipes for all meals plus a snack. Would like if we could know the ingredients the day before. Makes preparing alot easier. I like the fact that alternative foods are suggested in case you can't eat(or don't like) the recipes listed. This is a very good program. Stick to it and YOU will see results. I have!