You might not be familiar with prebiotics yet, but they go by another name that I guarantee you’ve heard about.
In this article we cover all things prebiotic, with a feature on the best (and worst!) drinkable prebiotics.
What kinds of prebiotics are there?
How do you get more prebiotics in your diet?
Find out here!
Prebiotics are indigestible fibers and other plant-based compounds that your gut bacteria crave. Prebiotic plant fibers, particular types of starches, polyphenols and phytochemicals, and other natural plant-based compounds provide you an anti-inflammatory boost, but only after your good bacteria unlock them.
There are actually many definitions of prebiotics, but scientists haven’t settled on this. The original definition, going back to the early prebiotic research done in 1995, might still be the best. This definition of a prebiotic is “a non-digestible food ingredient that beneficially affects the host by selectively stimulating the growth and/or activity of one or a limited number of bacteria”.
We don’t have to get into all the different types of bacteria and potential prebiotics, just know that “Host” here means you. Knowing that there are more bacteria cells in and around your body than there are human cells gives new meaning to the phrase “you are what you eat”.
Here’s our short list of the common names for prebiotics:
Some of these, like inulin and fructo-oligosaccharides, can cause bloating and other gut issues for some people, others have no problem with them. It all depends on your particular digestive system and the bacteria that are unique to you.
When you eat any healthy diet, the common thread is almost always more plant-based foods. The fibers in these plants go through your body intact and are eaten up by beneficial bacteria, producing helpful byproducts in the process.
This improves the health of your microbiome - the billions of bacteria that inhabit your body - as well as your own health. They can indirectly have the same effects that probiotics do, which is why they are often grouped together.
The purpose of getting your prebiotics, then, is to give you better health through better gut bacteria. Probiotics eat prebiotics to make anti-inflammatory short chain fatty acids, increase vitamin bioavailability, and strengthen your gut lining and your immune system.
Besides a single letter, the main difference is that prebiotics are the plant fibers that probiotics eat. You can take a probiotic that gives you the good bacteria, but you’ll need some source of prebiotic fiber to help feed those bacteria and keep them happy and healthy.
On the other hand, prebiotics can be used as an indirect way to give your microbiome a boost. When you make your gut bacteria happy by eating a fiber-rich, plant-based diet, you get two benefits in one: more fiber, which is great for your heart and gut health, and healthier gut bugs, which can improve your immune system and metabolism too!
It’s always best to get your prebiotics in their natural form, which is why we’ve put together these lists. Natural sources have more variety of prebiotic fibers and greater diversity of beneficial bacteria.
There are plenty of reasons to increase your prebiotic and probiotic intake, even with supplements if necessary, here are a few found in research:
Whether you’re increasing your beneficial bacteria directly with a probiotic, or if you’re promoting a healthy gut indirectly by giving them the prebiotics food they need, no matter how you pay attention to your gut health, you’re likely to find a beneficial effect.
Your microbiome is different depending on your sex, but that doesn’t mean you should seek out a specific prebiotic supplement if your a man, woman, or non-binary. The truth is the difference in bugs between two healthy people of different sexes are far smaller than the differences between any healthy person versus someone else with an unhealthy diet and especially stressful lifestyle and traumatic events regardless of sex. That’s definitely where our gut issues can come from - stress, but that’s a subject for another time. For now, work on getting various prebiotics and consume them in a peaceful, slow matter and let your body take care of the rest!
Research shows changing your diet to include more prebiotic fibers can have a significant effect on promoting healthy gut bacteria after only 2 days. Since the positive effect of probiotics on your gut bacteria can start to reverse one you stop taking your daily probiotic, changing your microbiome by eating a healthy plant-based diet is a far more permanent solution. Making the shift too suddenly can come with side effects (especially increased urgency), so make sure to talk with your healthcare provider and start low and go slow with ramping up your fiber and prebiotic intake!
Taking a probiotic and prebiotic together is called a synbiotic, and considering how deficient most people in the world are in fiber and the high rates of unhealthy bacteria, it might make sense to take your -biotics together.
Most people would benefit from gradually increasing fiber and prebiotic intake. With the average worldwide intake of fiber around 20 grams per day - about 50% - 65% of official recommendations - it’s no stretch to think that rates of bacteria imbalance could be just as high. Getting two-in-one with a synbiotic sounds like a good solution! Yet, remember like with any supplements or food sources, quality and the quantity of them matters tremendously.
Prebiotics, as a source of insoluble and soluble fiber, can have a regulating effect on your bowels. What does that mean? If you’re not “regular” now, start timing your prebiotic with when you want to go, and you’ll be regular in no time!
You might consider taking your probiotics with prebiotics, so they have something to munch on the way down. Another consideration, especially useful for healthy weight loss, is to take your prebiotics on an empty stomach when you’re hungry. Prebiotic fiber has a hunger-reducing effect that many find helpful when they need to quell a craving.
Herbal teas, high-polyphenol juices, and functional foods have little to no fiber, but there is plenty of research to show that ginger, turmeric, aronia berry polyphenols, and other herbals could all have a positive influence on your microbiome. That’s great news, because this beneficial blend is one thing that makes Resync products stand out. Definitely drink these, but we need more research to figure out where they land on the list.
Prune juice might be known for having a lot of fiber (5 grams per 12oz) - it’s a go-to for bowel regulation - but it comes with a hefty dose of sugar. It’s better than a soda or pop, but is not your best option due to the sugar.
Although V8 is rather low in fiber, the 100% vegetable blend is hydrating and rich in polyphenol antioxidants like lycopene and plant-based sources of vitamins A, C, and E. Don’t be fooled by other V8® products packed with sugar, the original 100% vegetable juice is their only prebiotic drink of any value.
Essentially a carbonated kombucha with electrolytes, ashwagandha, prebiotic corn fiber and a few other positive ingredients, what holds this drink back is that the third ingredient is sugar, so you’re essentially canceling out your anti-inflammatory gains. This may be a step in the right direction to cut down on sugar for some people, but keep going for better probiotic drink options.
A double whammy with the symbiotic combo of probiotics and prebiotics, the only thing that limits Kombucha is the sugar and the marginal alcohol content. Chia seeds provide a unique texture, valuable prebiotic fiber, and the kombucha is a natural source of health probiotics, but the sweet vinegar flavor can be a turn-off for mavy health-conscious consumers.
Psyllium husk, the powder of which is the familiar brand Metamucil®, provides a very good source of fiber, but it’s just a single type with no other beneficial ingredients. More prebiotic variety leads to more beneficial effects, so psyllium should be a supplemental, but not the only, source of prebiotic fiber in your diet.
With a large line of flavorful functional ingredients, if you’re looking for a drink with some positive effects there is probably a flavor of Rebbl® right for you. They’re not all that high in fiber, but they do contain other beneficial ingredients for your gut making them a decent vegan/vegetarian, dairy-free prebiotic option.
Intentionally made with attention to prebiotics, this drink delivers on flavor and elevates what you should expect from a soft drink. With 9 grams of fiber and evidence-based functional food ingredients to maximize prebiotic power., this is a good choice if you’re looking for a low-sugar prebiotic soda.
Homemade smoothies run the gamut from indulgent treats with more sugar than ice cream all the way to synergistic superfood blends that boost your health with healthy ingredients from whole foods. Adding high fiber, high nutrient ingredients like psyllium, chia seeds, hemp seeds, or others can boost any smoothie’s nutritional profile.
If you want a great smoothie recipe check out my ebook “Recover Every Layer of Your Body” or check out my blog post on Highest Fiber Food and Drinks for a favorite high-fiber prebiotic recipe of mine.
Two types of fiber, inulin and beta-glucan, and a rich source of antioxidant polyphenols with plant-based nitric oxide blend, make Resync RTD a well-rounded and powerful prebiotic package. This drink gets our vote for the best prebiotic beverage and takes it away in the flavor category. With ingredients shown in research to benefit the immune, and digestive system, heart health, and energy, this multi-functional sparkling beverage is a non-GMO, vegan, and caffeine-free excellent option for all audiences.
Ten options, half of which are superfoods in their own right, for you to choose from when kicking a sugar habit and supporting your microbiome with what it wants. Prebiotics are going to be the next health food craze, so expect this list to grow as the beverage industry catches up with your demands for a healthy, functional, prebiotic soda alternative.
Want the practical details on how to eat and supplement to support your exercise, heart health, beauty, and energy? Subscribe to our feed and never miss our best content! If you want more, leave a comment or question below, and we’ll get back to you!
While other companies try to sell you through clickbait and fake news, we back up what we say with hard data. We believe that when you have the right information, you are empowered to make the best decision possible. That’s why we break down complex science into practical takeaways you can use today.
Wishing you the best in your health,
The Resync Team
Borgeraas, H., et al. “Effects of Probiotics on Body Weight, Body Mass Index, Fat Mass and Fat Percentage in Subjects with Overweight or Obesity: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.” Obesity Reviews: An Official Journal of the International Association for the Study of Obesity, vol. 19, no. 2, Feb. 2018, pp. 219–32. PubMed, doi:10.1111/obr.12626.
Bradbury, Kathryn E., et al. “Fruit, Vegetable, and Fiber Intake in Relation to Cancer Risk: Findings from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC).” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 100 Suppl 1, July 2014, pp. 394S-8S. PubMed, doi:10.3945/ajcn.113.071357.
Chumpitazi, B. P., et al. “Randomised Clinical Trial: Gut Microbiome Biomarkers Are Associated with Clinical Response to a Low FODMAP Diet in Children with the Irritable Bowel Syndrome.” Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, vol. 42, no. 4, 2015, pp. 418–27. Wiley Online Library, doi:https://doi.org/10.1111/apt.13286.
Davani-Davari, Dorna, et al. “Prebiotics: Definition, Types, Sources, Mechanisms, and Clinical Applications.” Foods, vol. 8, no. 3, Mar. 2019. PubMed Central, doi:10.3390/foods8030092.
Gibson, G. R., and M. B. Roberfroid. “Dietary Modulation of the Human Colonic Microbiota: Introducing the Concept of Prebiotics.” The Journal of Nutrition, vol. 125, no. 6, June 1995, pp. 1401–12. PubMed, doi:10.1093/jn/125.6.1401.
Institute of Medicine (U.S.) and Institute of Medicine (U.S.) - 2005 - Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate.Pdf. https://www.nal.usda.gov/sites/default/files/fnic_uploads/energy_full_report.pdf. Accessed 17 Mar. 2021.
Istas, Geoffrey, et al. “Effects of Aronia Berry (Poly)Phenols on Vascular Function and Gut Microbiota: A Double-Blind Randomized Controlled Trial in Adult Men.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 110, no. 2, Aug. 2019, pp. 316–29. PubMed, doi:10.1093/ajcn/nqz075.
Johnson Rachel K., et al. “Dietary Sugars Intake and Cardiovascular Health.” Circulation, vol. 120, no. 11, American Heart Association, Sept. 2009, pp. 1011–20. ahajournals.org (Atypon), doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.109.192627.
Koning, Catherina J. M., et al. “The Effect of a Multispecies Probiotic on the Intestinal Microbiota and Bowel Movements in Healthy Volunteers Taking the Antibiotic Amoxycillin.” Official Journal of the American College of Gastroenterology | ACG, vol. 103, no. 1, Jan. 2008, pp. 178–89.
Le Bastard, Quentin, et al. “The Effects of Inulin on Gut Microbial Composition: A Systematic Review of Evidence from Human Studies.” European Journal of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases, vol. 39, no. 3, Mar. 2020, pp. 403–13. Springer Link, doi:10.1007/s10096-019-03721-w.
Lie, Louise, et al. “The Association of Dietary Fiber Intake with Cardiometabolic Risk in Four Countries across the Epidemiologic Transition.” Nutrients, vol. 10, no. 5, May 2018. PubMed Central, doi:10.3390/nu10050628.
Macfarlane, S., et al. “Synbiotic Consumption Changes the Metabolism and Composition of the Gut Microbiota in Older People and Modifies Inflammatory Processes: A Randomised, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Crossover Study.” Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, vol. 38, no. 7, 2013, pp. 804–16. Wiley Online Library, doi:https://doi.org/10.1111/apt.12453.
Mills, John P., et al. “Probiotics for Prevention of Clostridium Difficile Infection.” Current Opinion in Gastroenterology, vol. 34, no. 1, Jan. 2018, pp. 3–10. PubMed, doi:10.1097/MOG.0000000000000410.
Murphy, Emma J., et al. “β-Glucan Metabolic and Immunomodulatory Properties and Potential for Clinical Application.” Journal of Fungi, vol. 6, no. 4, Dec. 2020. PubMed Central, doi:10.3390/jof6040356.
Peterson, Christine T., et al. “Prebiotic Potential of Culinary Spices Used to Support Digestion and Bioabsorption.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : ECAM, vol. 2019, June 2019. PubMed Central, doi:10.1155/2019/8973704.
Quigley, Eamonn M. M. “Prebiotics and Probiotics: Their Role in the Management of Gastrointestinal Disorders in Adults.” Nutrition in Clinical Practice: Official Publication of the American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition, vol. 27, no. 2, Apr. 2012, pp. 195–200. PubMed, doi:10.1177/0884533611423926.
Roberfroid, Marcel, et al. “Prebiotic Effects: Metabolic and Health Benefits.” The British Journal of Nutrition, vol. 104 Suppl 2, Aug. 2010, pp. S1-63. PubMed, doi:10.1017/S0007114510003363.
Ríos-Covián, David, et al. “Intestinal Short Chain Fatty Acids and Their Link with Diet and Human Health.” Frontiers in Microbiology, vol. 7, 2016, p. 185. PubMed, doi:10.3389/fmicb.2016.00185.
So, Daniel et al. “Dietary fiber intervention on gut microbiota composition in healthy adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” The American journal of clinical nutrition vol. 107,6 (2018): 965-983. doi:10.1093/ajcn/nqy041
Tompkins, T. A., et al. “The Impact of Meals on a Probiotic during Transit through a Model of the Human Upper Gastrointestinal Tract.” Beneficial Microbes, vol. 2, no. 4, Dec. 2011, pp. 295–303. PubMed, doi:10.3920/BM2011.0022.
Schley, P. D., and C. J. Field. “The Immune-Enhancing Effects of Dietary Fibres and Prebiotics.” The British Journal of Nutrition, vol. 87 Suppl 2, May 2002, pp. S221-230. PubMed, doi:10.1079/BJNBJN/2002541.
The Lancet. "High intake of dietary fiber and whole grains associated with reduced risk of non-communicable diseases." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 January 2019. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190110184737.htm>.
Vitetta, Luis, et al. “The Gastrointestinal Microbiome and Musculoskeletal Diseases: A Beneficial Role for Probiotics and Prebiotics.” Pathogens, vol. 2, no. 4, Nov. 2013, pp. 606–26. PubMed Central, doi:10.3390/pathogens2040606.
Zhang, Yu-Jie, et al. “Impacts of Gut Bacteria on Human Health and Diseases.” International Journal of Molecular Sciences, vol. 16, no. 4, Apr. 2015, pp. 7493–519. PubMed Central, doi:10.3390/ijms16047493.
Zhong, Changqing, et al. “Probiotics for Preventing and Treating Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth: A Meta-Analysis and Systematic Review of Current Evidence.” Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, vol. 51, no. 4, Apr. 2017, pp. 300–11. PubMed, doi:10.1097/MCG.0000000000000814.
This content is for general informational purposes only, and does not constitute the practice of any professional healthcare service, INCLUDING the giving of medical advice. No provider-patient relationship is formed. The use of this information, and the materials linked to this content is at the user's own risk. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Users should abide by the advice of their healthcare provider, and should not disregard or delay in obtaining medical advice for any medical condition they may have.