Gut health is essential for overall health, and this unifying theme has cast new attention to the interactions between diet, the gut microbial ecosystem, and human health. Probiotic supplementation has been demonstrated as an effective method of introducing healthy bacteria back into the gut microbiome. However, emerging research suggests that prebiotics are equally, if not more, important than probiotics.
A prebiotic is defined as “a substrate that is selectively utilized by host microorganisms conferring a health benefit.” (Gibson et al. 2017. Nat Rev Gastro Hepatol.) In simple terms, prebiotics are the fermentable fibers found in our diet that act as ‘food’ for probiotics, the healthy bacteria residing in our digestive tract. Unfortunately, modern diets often lack sufficient prebiotic content due to processing methods, palate preferences, and matters of convenience. In turn, many digestive and systemic health issues can be traced back to the calorie-rich, nutrient-poor diets found in most developed countries.
Research suggests that prebiotic supplementation can reverse some – if not all – of the effects of the ‘Western Diet’. Prebiotic supplements, therefore, represent a critical tool in preventative health strategies and therapies for chronic gut health issues.