What is a prebiotic?

Simply put, prebiotics are the energy for probiotics. When consumed regularly, prebiotics promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the digestive system such as lactobacilli or bifidobacteria. Drs. Glen Gibson and Marcel Roberfroid defined prebiotics in 1995 as a food ingredient with the following properties:

  • Prebiotics resist digestion and are not absorbed. Because of this requirement, all prebiotics are considered fiber by the FDA.

  • Prebiotics are metabolized by the microflora of the digestive system. Fiber such as cellulose and psyhlum husk are not fully metabolized by microflora, however, prebiotics are almost completely metabolized.
  • Prebiotics stimulate the growth or activity of a select group of bacteria associated with health and well-being. Demonstrating the selective nature of a prebiotic is the most difficult and rigorous portion of the clinical research. Resistant starches and other acid treated starches may resist digestion and support metabolism by the microflora, but the demonstration of specificity remains to be established.

Where do you find prebiotics?

Prebiotics are naturally occurring fiber produced by both plants and animals.

Mother’s milk contains the prebiotic galacto-oligosaccharide or GOS, which helps establish a health digestive ecosystem in newborns. As a food ingredient, GOS is created from dairy milk.
Over 36,000 plant varieties contain the natural fiber inulin. Garlic, leek, artichoke and other members of the sunflower family are especially rich in inulin. Blue Prairie Brand is committed to using natural sources of inulin fiber in our products. Learn about the plant varieties cultivated for inulin production on our Products page: chicory, agave and yacon.

Other prebiotic like fibers are being introduced by ingredient manufactures, but Blue Prairie Brands only works with naturally occurring prebiotics clinically demonstrated to meet all of the criteria set out by Gibson and Roberfroid.

Why include prebiotics?

The microflora of our digestive systems is powered by the fiber and other indigestible elements our diet. What are we feeding them? What nutrition do we provide to our microflora? Does it promote a healthy and balanced ecosystem? Prebiotics are a simple and natural way to cultivate your ecosystem of microflora, promote the growth of beneficial members and add fiber to your diet.

PRE, Not PRO: The Basics

Blue Prairie is a brand of prebiotics: soluble but non-digestible ingredients, such as inulin and fructooligosaccharides, that add fiber and nutrition to food, beverages and supplements.

PREbiotics are an important energy source for PRObiotics, the beneficial bacteria that reside in our digestive tract and are important for digestive balance and wellness. Prebiotics complement and enhance the action of probiotics, so you get more benefits from probiotic products you may already enjoy.

Prebiotics can also be added to products such as baked goods, cereals and other dry foods for which probiotics are not suitable.

The most common prebiotic is inulin, a fiber naturally found in the chicory root. (You can also find inulin in artichokes and jicama, as well as garlic and leeks, but chicory is by far the most concentrated source.)

Health Benefits

Inulin is associated with significant health benefits:

  • Dietary fiber – Our system does not digest inulin, so it stays in stays in our gut and continues to nourish the beneficial bacteria.
  • Better digestive balance – With more “food” and stimulation, the beneficial gut bacteria grow faster and stronger. With this bacteria critical to the immune system, many published articles connect digestive balance to overall immune health as well.
  • Regular bowel function
  • Stronger bones – Increased absorption of calcium and magnesium helps strengthen bones.
  • Weight management – The fiber in prebiotics keeps you feeling full for a longer time, and improves the nutritional value of foods by increasing the dietary fiber content and potentially reducing the caloric content, with little effect on taste and texture.