What are Prebiotics and Why You Need Them?

You may have heard the term probiotics before since they are found in a slew of supplements, certain foods, and drinks like kombucha that are readily available in most grocery stores.


Many people know that probiotics are good for them, but they may not realize that when they are consuming them, they are actually welcoming live organisms into their bodies.


Most commonly, probiotics are live and beneficial bacteria. So, when you are eating your yogurt made with “live and active cultures”, you are eating live bacteria.


While eating bacteria may sound like an odd and unhealthy thing to do, know that these bacteria do not cause harm like e. Coli may.


Probiotics offer a benefit to the host when ingested. So, if you are enjoying foods like kimchi or you are downing a probiotic supplement every day, you are literally taking in live bacteria that act in your body in a positive way.


But like every living thing, live bacteria need fuel in order to survive. Unfortunately, bacteria can’t simply break down whatever you are eating and use it as fuel. Probiotics use specific elements to sustain themselves.


Garlic cloves on a wooden surface


What Are Prebiotics


While probiotics are live organisms that offer a benefit to the host, prebiotics are the fuel that feeds the probiotics. Think of prebiotics as the probiotics’ meal.


Humans are unable to digest or break down prebiotics when they are taken in via their diet. Therefore, these prebiotic fibers travel to the gut where many probiotics live.


If you are taking in probiotics and zero prebiotics to support the live bacteria’s health, you are essentially wasting your money. Just like we can’t survive with proper nourishment, neither can probiotics. They need to be provided with prebiotics in order to do their job. It is your job to eat prebiotics through food or supplements.


How do I Get Prebiotics In My Diet?


Fortunately, prebiotics are found in many foods that many of us eat every day. Additionally, many supplement companies are adding high-quality prebiotic fiber to their products to ensure that we are maintaining our gut health and supporting our microbiota.


Some sources of prebiotics:


Greens powders – a prebiotics greens powder like Naked Greens provides organic inulin in every scoop to act as fuel to probiotics you get from your diet from foods like miso and sauerkraut (and also the ones that are included in the powder).


Naked Greens product image with a tub of Naked Greens surrounded by some of it's ingredients


Garlic – Garlic is naturally high in inulin, the same prebiotic found in Naked Greens. Leeks, onions, scallions, and other “stinky” veggies are typically a great source of prebiotics as well.


Chicory root – Chicory root is the root of the endive plant and is a common ingredient in many foods to boost the fiber and prebiotic content. It is relatively tasteless and is used as an ingredient in many granola bars.


Bananas – Grab your bananas just as they are still slightly green, because once they ripen, their prebiotic quantity takes a nosedive. The less-ripe bananas are higher in resistant starch, which acts as a prebiotic. Try your hand at whipping up a smoothie using a slightly underripe banana tomorrow morning to support your gut health – you won’t even notice the difference.


Banana protein smoothie in a glass on a chopping board next to chopped bananas


Final Thoughts


Prebiotics are key to your gut and immune health because they support the viability of the live probiotics that ultimately play an important role in your body.


While probiotics are often the shining star because of their potential to stimulate a person’s immune system and help keep people’s digestive system regular, the prebiotic fibers are the behind-the-scenes players that keep the live bacteria doing what they have to do.


Choosing foods like Naked Greens with added prebiotic inulin is one step toward supporting your overall well-being through nutrition.