A prebiotic, or in the plural, prebiotics, is a food additive and achieves positive effects on gut bacteria. A prebiotic is not to be confused with a probiotic, but the two food additives complement each other, as a prebiotic is the energy supplier for a probiotic.
With our prebiotic test 2021 we want to give you the most useful tips and information about prebiotics. We also give you some interesting recommendations on prebiotic products that could help you. We hope you enjoy reading.
- 1 Weekly newsletter with the best personal finance tips
- 2 The most important facts
- 3 The Best Prebiotic: Our Picks
- 4 Buying and evaluation criteria for a prebiotic
- 5 Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a prebiotic.
- 5.1 What is a prebiotic and how does it work?
- 5.2 What are the differences between prebiotics and probiotics?
- 5.3 When and for whom does it make sense to take a prebiotic?
- 5.4 Which plant parts are used for products with prebiotics?
- 5.5 In which products are prebiotics present?
- 5.6 How much do prebiotic products cost?
- 5.7 What types of prebiotics are there?
- 5.8 How should a prebiotic be dosed?
- 5.9 What are the alternatives to a prebiotic?
The most important facts
- A prebiotic is an important food additive for gut bacteria to keep the intestinal tract healthy and active. A prebiotic is especially important for probiotics because they need prebiotics as an energy source.
- Prebiotics are healthy for the intestinal flora and positively stimulate digestion. You can reach your daily requirement of prebiotics with a healthy and balanced diet.
- In principle, anyone can take prebiotic products via food supplements, but you should pay attention to a certain quality. Especially in the beginning you have to be careful and not take too high doses.
The Best Prebiotic: Our Picks
Buying and evaluation criteria for a prebiotic
If you want to buy a prebiotic product, you should pay attention to different aspects, such as:
With the right choice for you, you can save a lot of money and nerves and you also ensure that you do not cause unnecessary damage to your body. Therefore, always look for high quality and, if necessary, ask the manufacturer to show you the certificates.
Prebiotic products are generally available in the following dosage forms:
- Capsules are the most common and most splendid form of administration. Prebiotics in capsule form are easy to transport and usually have a neutral taste. In addition, the dosage of capsules is very simple for you.
- After capsules,powders are the most common form of prebiotics. You can buy prebiotics in powder form quite cheaply and you can dose and mix them individually and in a variety of ways if you follow the consumption recommendations.
- Tablets are one form of delivery, but are less common than capsules and powders. They have a long shelf life, are easy to store and easy to transport and take, but have high levels of additives and are less tolerable as a prebiotic than capsules or powder.
- Liquid prebiotics are less common than the other forms mentioned above, but you can also buy prebiotics in liquid form. You can easily mix prebiotics in liquid form into your food, but the liquid form does not last very long compared to other variants.
The dosage depends first of all on the total amount of the product. If the amount is larger, you can be a little more generous with the dosage. The dosage also depends on how highly concentrated the prebiotic product is, whether it is single or double concentrated.
If you have never taken a prebiotic supplement before, you should approach the right dose slowly and carefully at the beginning.
We recommend that you read the recommended dosage before taking your first prebiotic. If you have not taken a lot of prebiotic products before, you should be careful with the dosage at the beginning, so that your body gets used to the substance.
Bacteria strains and cultures
First of all, the quality of the bacterial strains must be ensured. Certificates and country of manufacture can be helpful in this regard. Next, it is important to know which prebiotic bacterial strains are present in the product. Most products have inulin as the main ingredient and are supplemented by many other prebiotic and probiotic bacteria (10, 15).
Apart from prebiotics, other ingredients may be present in the products.
Some products are additionally enriched with vitamins and minerals. If you want to use products that are as natural as possible, you should make sure that there are no preservatives or separating agents in the products.
Some low-quality products may contain harmful substances and you should focus on quality and control. Certificates and organic products are good indicators that there are no harmful substances in a prebiotic product.
Children and allergy sufferers
First of all, everyone can benefit from sufficient prebiotic intake, including children, allergy sufferers and pregnant women (1).
High quality prebiotic products are in most cases vegan.
In general, we recommend that prebiotic intake be managed through the diet if possible. You can also buy products designed for children.
Prebiotic products do not cause allergic reactions by themselves and sometimes even prevent the risk of allergies (2). However, some products contain soy or milk, so you should always check beforehand whether the prebiotic product is really gluten- and lactose-free.
Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a prebiotic.
In the next sections, we will briefly inform you about the current state of knowledge and the researched effectiveness of prebiotics. We have compiled all the necessary information for you in the guide.
What is a prebiotic and how does it work?
A healthy and fit intestinal tract has a positive effect on the whole body.
Prebiotics have many different effects, which mainly take place in the large intestine and which also influence each other.
Effect 1: Nutrients for microorganisms
Prebiotics are the energy source for microorganisms in the intestinal tract to grow and become active . In addition, the strengthening of good microorganisms ensures that harmful microorganisms are fought (4).
Effect 2: Improvement of the intestinal flora
Active and growing microorganisms such as probiotics strengthen the intestinal flora in a health-promoting way, which has positive effects on the intestine and also on the entire body (5).
Effect 3: Stimulation of digestion
Prebiotics also indirectly stimulate digestion. In addition to many health-promoting effects, a diet rich in fibre also ensures longer satiety (6).
What are the differences between prebiotics and probiotics?
- Prebiotics are not digested by the body and serve as an energy source for microorganisms.
- Probiotics are living bacteria, occur naturally in the gut and directly challenge the gut flora.
- Symbiotics are a composition of prebiotics and probiotics with all their effects in the intestine.
At first glance, the differences between a prebiotic and a probiotic are difficult to see, but we think it is important to know these differences. Both have their area of action in the intestine and complement each other. Incidentally, a mixture of the two is called a symbiotic or, in the plural, symbiotics.
When and for whom does it make sense to take a prebiotic?
Prebiotic food supplements can help to strengthen the good intestinal bacteria during treatment with antibiotics. However, you should discuss taking them with your doctor beforehand (5).
Taking the right, healthy amount of prebiotics has some health benefits on the intestinal tract and also on the whole body (7).
However, we would advise you to only use prebiotic products if you really can't meet your daily requirements through your diet. You should also pay attention to the correct dosage, as an overdose can have consequences such as flatulence or diarrhoea (9).
Which plant parts are used for products with prebiotics?
Foods where prebiotics are abundant are often used for bacterial strains and cultures in prebiotic products:
- Inulin - Jerusalem artichoke, chicory, salsify
- Pectins - apples, linseed, psyllium husks
- resistant starch - cooled potatoes, rice
In which products are prebiotics present?
Foods with particularly valuable prebiotics include inulin things like chicory, salsify and Jerusalem artichokes, and pectin foods like apples, psyllium husks and flaxseed. Rice and cooled potatoes are also good sources of prebiotics for you, as they contain lots of resistant starch.
How much do prebiotic products cost?
|Dosage form||price range|
|Capsules||from 200 euros per kilogram|
|Powder||from 18-20 euros per kilogram|
|Liquid||from 20 euros per litre|
What types of prebiotics are there?
How should a prebiotic be dosed?
In addition, you should only take small amounts of prebiotics at the beginning, if you have only taken a few prebiotics in your diet before, to allow your body time to get used to them.
What are the alternatives to a prebiotic?
Image source: Barbone / 123rf
Taking a prebiotic approach to early immunomodulation for allergy prevention
Bugging allergy; role of pre-, pro- and synbiotics in allergy prevention
Prebiotic effects: metabolic and health benefits
Role of inulin as prebiotics on inflammatory bowel disease
Probiotics and prebiotics in intestinal health and disease: from biology to the clinic
Dietary fiber and prebiotics and the gastrointestinal microbiota
Effects of Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Synbiotics on Human Health
Dietary fibre as prebiotics in nutrition
Prebiotics in irritable bowel syndrome and other functional bowel disorders in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials
Prebiotic inulin-type fructans induce specific changes in the human gut microbiota
The potential of resistant starch as a prebiotic
Fiber and prebiotics: mechanisms and health benefits
Probiotics, prebiotics, and microencapsulation: A review
Targeting the Microbiota-Gut-Brain Axis: Prebiotics Have Anxiolytic and Antidepressant-like Effects and Reverse the Impact of Chronic Stress in Mice
Inulin: Properties, health benefits and food applications