BIG Nutrition: Prebiotics—Food for a happy gut microbiome!


BIG Nutrition: Prebiotics—Food for a happy gut microbiome!

Prebiotics are non-digestible fibers in food that nourish the helpful organisms that live in the lower intestine (colon). In other words, they are literally the food of the good organisms living in the gut. Eating both probiotics (covered in last week’s blog, along with the microbiome) and prebiotics may really impact health generally and the health of the intestine specifically.

Prebiotics are mostly found in carbohydrate containing foods—vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Pennsylvania State University extension has a helpful article about prebiotics that notes the following common food sources:

  • Bananas, berries, and legumes (fructooligosaccharide sources)
  • Garlic, onions, Jerusalem artichokes, and leeks (inulin sources)
  • Whole grains (wheat dextrin source)
  • Nuts and seeds (arabinose sources)

The organisms that live in the gut, specifically in the colon, or are consumed via foods with active cultures (eg, yogurt, Kombucha, kimchi), ferment the non-digestible prebiotic fibers to provide a source of food.

Not surprisingly, a diet with prebiotics and probiotics is a powerful combination and make sense too. Giving good bacteria in the intestine a happy environment with food to eat helps them thrive so they can help keep your immune system strong and the bad bacteria in check.

The complete story of probiotics, prebiotics, and the study of the human microbiome is still unfolding, but indications are that probiotic and prebiotic foods are a natural and safe way to support our health!

Happy and healthful eating,

Donna G. Pertel, MEd, RD, LDN


Can probiotics or prebiotics help with weight loss? Contact me at [email protected]