Your digestive system is home to trillions of bacteria, both good and bad. Prebiotics are special plant fibers that help healthy bacteria grow in your gut. This makes your digestive system work better.
Where Do You Find Them?
You’ll find prebiotics in many fruits, vegetables, and whole grains like:
- Green vegetables
- Legumes (peas and beans)
Some products have added prebiotics. You might hear this called fortified. They include:
When you’re shopping for these products, you probably won’t see the word prebiotic won’t on the label. Instead, look for terms like:
- Chicory fiber
You can also find prebiotics in dietary supplement form. Babies can get them from their mother’s milk.
How Do They Work?
Prebiotics are carbs your body can’t digest. So they go to your lower digestive tract, where they act like fertilizers to help the healthy bacteria grow. Without prebiotics, good bacteria in your gut suffer.
What Else Can They Do for You?
In addition to feeding your good gut bacteria, prebiotics can:
- Help you absorb calcium
- Change the rate at which foods cause spikes in blood sugar (the glycemic index)
- Ferment foods faster, so they spend less time in your digestive system and you stay regular
- Keep the cells that line your gut healthy
How to Use Them Safely
Try to get prebiotics from whole foods since they also have healthy vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Some experts say you should get at least 5 grams of prebiotics in your diet every day. Too much can lead to gas or bloating. Start with small amounts so your gut can get used to them.