Allanah Robinson Cook – Naturopath

Many of us have heard of the wonderful world of probiotics and their beneficial role in gut health. Although the hype around probiotics is undoubtedly well-deserved; the vital role of prebiotics in digestive health and function can be overlooked.

Prebiotics are just as important (if not more so) than probiotics in microbiome optimisation and overall health. Put simply, prebiotics are the ‘food’ for our gut bacteria. They are carbohydrates that bypass digestion in the small intestine and are then fermented by many of the millions of different bacteria (including our probiotic bacteria) that reside in the large intestine.

Research has shown that individuals with a low dietary intake of prebiotics have an increased risk of gastrointestinal complaints (diarrhoea/constipation, bloating, gas), poor immune function, impaired fat metabolism, nutrient malabsorption, bowel cancer, inflammatory bowel disease and cardiovascular disease.

It is recommended to aim for around 4-8g of prebiotics daily for those without digestive issues, and 10-15g daily for individuals with digestive complaints. This can easily be achieved through dietary intake. However, an individual with an impaired digestive system may experience digestive discomfort with prebiotic-rich foods; In which case, we would opt to use a prebiotic supplement.

Before making major dietary changes or introducing a prebiotic supplement, I would always suggest speaking with a qualified health practitioner. Depending on your current health status, there may be areas to treat before adding in prebiotics. This is particularly important if you are displaying symptoms of a potential bacterial overgrowth, as your symptoms may be exacerbated by prebiotic intake.

For more information on prebiotic foods, check out my blog post here: