35 Basic Questions about Prebiotic and Probiotic Supplements

February 04, 2024 61 min read

35 Basic Questions about Prebiotic and Probiotic Supplements

 

-          How can probiotics and prebiotics benefit gut health? 

Probiotics and prebiotics are two dietary components that have been shown to promote gut health by modulating the gut microbiome. Probiotics are live microorganisms that can confer a health benefit when consumed in adequate amounts, while prebiotics are non-digestible food fibers that promote the growth and activity of beneficial bacteria in the gut.

Probiotics have been shown to have a number of potential health benefits, including improving digestive function, enhancing the immune system, and reducing inflammation in the gut . Some studies have also suggested that probiotics may have a role in the treatment of certain conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease.

Prebiotics, on the other hand, are a type of dietary fiber that is not digested in the small intestine but instead reaches the colon intact, where it is fermented by beneficial bacteria. This fermentation process produces short-chain fatty acids, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects in the gut . Prebiotics have also been shown to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut, which can help to maintain a healthy gut microbiome.

Overall, the evidence suggests that both probiotics and prebiotics can play a role in promoting gut health.

-           What are prebiotics and how do they differ from probiotics? 

Prebiotics and probiotics are two types of dietary supplements that are often used to promote gut health, but they have different functions and mechanisms of action.

Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are similar to the beneficial microorganisms found in the human gut. They are commonly found in fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi, as well as in dietary supplements. When consumed, probiotics can help to restore the natural balance of the gut microbiome, enhance nutrient absorption, and support immune function.

Here are some examples of probiotics:

  1. Lactobacillus acidophilus: This is a type of bacteria commonly found in the human gut and in fermented foods like yogurt and kefir. It can help to improve gut health and support immune function.
  2. Bifidobacterium bifidum: This is another type of bacteria that is commonly found in the human gut and in fermented foods. It can help to improve digestive health and support immune function.
  3. Saccharomyces boulardii: This is a type of yeast that is used as a probiotic. It can help to prevent diarrhea and other digestive issues.
  4. Streptococcus thermophilus: This is a type of bacteria that is commonly used in the production of yogurt and other fermented dairy products. It can help to improve digestive health and support immune function.
  5. Lactobacillus rhamnosus: This is a type of bacteria that is commonly found in the human gut and in fermented foods like yogurt and kefir. It can help to improve gut health and support immune function.
  6. Bifidobacterium lactis: This is another type of bacteria commonly found in the human gut and in fermented foods. It can help to improve digestive health and support immune function.

Prebiotics, on the other hand, are non-digestible fibers and complex carbohydrates that are found in a variety of plant-based foods. They serve as food for the beneficial bacteria in the gut, promoting their growth and activity. Some examples of prebiotic foods include garlic, onions, asparagus, bananas, oats, and legumes.

Galactooligosaccharides (GOS) and human milk oligosaccharides (HMO) are also examples of prebiotics. GOS are found naturally in human milk, legumes, and some grains, while HMO are unique to human breast milk. They are both non-digestible fibers that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut.

Other examples of prebiotics include:

  1. Inulin: Inulin is a type of soluble fiber found in many plant-based foods, including chicory root, Jerusalem artichokes, and dandelion greens.
  2. Fructooligosaccharides (FOS): FOS are naturally occurring prebiotics found in many fruits and vegetables, including bananas, onions, and asparagus.
  3. Resistant starch: Resistant starch is a type of carbohydrate that is resistant to digestion in the small intestine and passes through to the large intestine, where it can be fermented by beneficial bacteria. Resistant starch is found in foods such as beans, lentils, green bananas, and cooked and cooled potatoes.
  4. Beta-glucans: Beta-glucans are a type of soluble fiber found in oats, barley, and mushrooms, among other foods.

Consuming a variety of prebiotic-rich foods can help to support the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut and promote overall gut health.

While probiotics are living microorganisms that provide direct health benefits, prebiotics act as a "fertilizer" for the good bacteria in the gut, helping to support their growth and activity. Both probiotics and prebiotics can be beneficial for gut health, and they can be consumed separately or together as synbiotics.

-          How do prebiotics benefit gut health?

Prebiotics are non-digestible fibers and complex carbohydrates that serve as food for the beneficial bacteria in the gut. When consumed, prebiotics pass through the digestive system mostly intact and reach the large intestine, where they are fermented by the gut microbiota. This fermentation process produces short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which are important for maintaining a healthy gut. Here are some ways that prebiotics benefit gut health:

  1. Promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria: Prebiotics selectively feed the beneficial bacteria in the gut, such as bifidobacteria and lactobacilli, while suppressing the growth of harmful bacteria.
  2. Improving gut barrier function: Prebiotics can help to improve the integrity of the gut barrier, which can prevent harmful substances from entering the bloodstream and causing inflammation.
  3. Reducing inflammation: The SCFAs produced by the fermentation of prebiotics can help to reduce inflammation in the gut and throughout the body.
  4. Supporting immune function: The gut microbiota plays a key role in immune function, and prebiotics can help to support the growth of beneficial bacteria that are important for immune health.

Studies have shown that consuming prebiotics can lead to improvements in gut health, including increases in beneficial bacteria, reductions in harmful bacteria, and improvements in gut barrier function and immune function. For example, a systematic review of 26 randomized controlled trials found that prebiotic supplementation was associated with improvements in gut microbiota composition, gut barrier function, and markers of immune function (Holscher, 2017) Overall, consuming prebiotic-rich foods or supplements can help to support the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut and promote overall gut health.

Some examples of prebiotic-rich foods include:

  1. Chicory root: Chicory root is one of the richest sources of inulin, a type of prebiotic fiber.
  2. Jerusalem artichoke: Jerusalem artichokes are high in inulin and other prebiotic fibers.
  3. Garlic: Garlic contains a type of prebiotic fiber called fructooligosaccharides (FOS).
  4. Onions: Onions are a good source of FOS.
  5. Leeks: Leeks contain inulin, FOS, and other prebiotic fibers.
  6. Asparagus: Asparagus is high in inulin and other prebiotic fibers.
  7. Bananas: Bananas contain a type of prebiotic fiber called resistant starch.
  8. Oats: Oats contain a type of prebiotic fiber called beta-glucan.

Probiotics are live microorganisms that, when consumed in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit to the host. Probiotics can be found in fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, kimchi, and sauerkraut, as well as in dietary supplements. Probiotics work by colonizing the gut with beneficial bacteria, which can improve gut health by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria, suppressing the growth of harmful bacteria, and improving gut barrier function.

While prebiotics and probiotics both have benefits for gut health, they differ in their mechanisms of action. Prebiotics work by selectively feeding the beneficial bacteria in the gut, while probiotics work by adding beneficial bacteria to the gut. Both prebiotics and probiotics can be beneficial for gut health, and consuming a variety of prebiotic-rich foods and probiotic-containing foods or supplements can help to promote overall gut health. 

-          What are some common sources of prebiotics in food?

Common sources of prebiotics in food include:

  1. Chicory root: Chicory root is considered one of the best sources of prebiotic fiber. It contains inulin, a type of fructan that helps feed the good bacteria in the gut.
  2. Jerusalem artichoke: Jerusalem artichoke is a root vegetable that is rich in inulin and fructooligosaccharides (FOS), both of which are prebiotic fibers.
  3. Garlic: Garlic contains fructans, which act as prebiotics and help support the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
  4. Onions: Onions are also rich in fructans, which have been shown to increase the number of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
  5. Bananas: Bananas are a good source of prebiotics, particularly resistant starch, which is fermented by gut bacteria and helps promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
  6. Oats: Oats contain beta-glucan, a type of soluble fiber that acts as a prebiotic and helps support the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
  7. Apples: Apples are a good source of pectin, a type of soluble fiber that acts as a prebiotic and helps feed the good bacteria in the gut.
  8. Flaxseed: Flaxseed is a good source of lignans, which act as prebiotics and help promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
  9. Seaweed: Seaweed is a good source of fucoidan, a type of prebiotic fiber that helps support the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut.

-          How do prebiotic supplements work?

Prebiotic supplements work by providing the gut microbiota with specific types of fibers that are not digested by the human body, but instead, are fermented by gut bacteria. This fermentation process leads to the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) such as acetate, propionate, and butyrate, which are known to have many health benefits.

Prebiotic supplements typically contain specific types of fibers such as human milk oligosaccharides (HMO), inulin, fructooligosaccharides (FOS), galactooligosaccharides (GOS), and resistant starch.

  1. Inulin: This is a soluble fiber found in many plants such as chicory root, Jerusalem artichoke, and dandelion greens. It is commonly used in prebiotic supplements due to its ability to selectively stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
  2. Fructooligosaccharides (FOS): These are also soluble fibers found in many plants such as onions, garlic, and bananas. They are commonly used in prebiotic supplements due to their ability to increase the growth of Bifidobacteria in the gut.
  3. Galactooligosaccharides (GOS): These are soluble fibers found in human milk and some legumes. They are commonly used in prebiotic supplements due to their ability to increase the growth of Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli in the gut.
  4. Resistant starch: This is a type of starch that is not digested in the small intestine but instead ferments in the large intestine. It is found in foods such as green bananas, cooked and cooled potatoes, and lentils. It is commonly used in prebiotic supplements due to its ability to increase the production of butyrate in the gut.
  5. Lactulose: This is a synthetic sugar that is commonly used as a prescription laxative but also has prebiotic properties. It is not digested in the small intestine but instead ferments in the large intestine, increasing the growth of beneficial bacteria such as Bifidobacteria.
  6. Human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs): HMOs are a type of prebiotic that are naturally present in human breast milk. They are not digested in the human small intestine but instead pass into the large intestine, where they selectively stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria such as Bifidobacteria. HMOs have been shown to have a variety of health benefits, including improving gut health, reducing the risk of infections, and promoting the development of a healthy immune system in infants. HMOs have also been found to have anti-inflammatory properties and may help to prevent the development of certain chronic diseases.

These fibers are not digested in the upper gastrointestinal tract and pass through to the colon where they are fermented by gut bacteria. This fermentation process creates a favorable environment for the growth of beneficial bacteria such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli, which have been associated with numerous health benefits such as improved gut health, enhanced immune function, and reduced inflammation.

In addition to promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria, prebiotic supplements have also been shown to increase the production of SCFAs, particularly butyrate, which is important for maintaining gut barrier function, reducing inflammation, and protecting against colorectal cancer.

-          Why HMOs are the best prebiotic supplement?

Human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) are a type of prebiotic that have gained significant attention in recent years due to their potential health benefits. HMOs are structurally complex carbohydrates that are naturally present in human milk and are not found in any other mammalian milk. HMOs have been shown to have a prebiotic effect in the gut, promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria and supporting gut health. In comparison to other prebiotic sources such as galactooligosaccharides (GOS), fructooligosaccharides (FOS), inulin, and resistant starch, HMOs have unique structural and functional properties that make them stand out as a superior prebiotic source.

HMOs are structurally complex carbohydrates composed of different types of monosaccharides, including glucose, galactose, N-acetylglucosamine, and fucose, with varying linkages between the monosaccharides. These structural differences result in a variety of HMO isomers that differ in their degree of branching and length of the carbohydrate chain. Research has shown that HMOs are resistant to digestion in the upper gastrointestinal tract and reach the colon intact, where they are fermented by gut bacteria to produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) and gases such as hydrogen and methane. These SCFAs have been shown to have beneficial effects on gut health, including reducing inflammation, supporting the gut barrier, and regulating immune function.

GOS, FOS, inulin, and resistant starch are also commonly used prebiotics that have been shown to promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. GOS are composed of galactose units linked by a β-1,4 bond, while FOS and inulin are composed of fructose units linked by β-2,1 bonds and β-2,1 and β-2,6 bonds, respectively. Resistant starch is a type of starch that is not broken down by digestive enzymes in the small intestine and reaches the colon intact, where it is fermented by gut bacteria to produce SCFAs.

While GOS, FOS, inulin, and resistant starch have been shown to have prebiotic effects, they differ from HMOs in several ways.

First, the structure of HMOs is more complex than that of other prebiotics, allowing for a greater diversity of bacterial species to be stimulated. HMOs have been shown to promote the growth of bifidobacteria, which are considered beneficial for gut health, as well as other bacterial species that have been associated with reduced risk of allergies and infections.

Second, HMOs are specific to humans and are not found in any other mammalian milk, while GOS, FOS, inulin, and resistant starch are found in various plant and animal sources. This makes HMOs a unique prebiotic source that is specifically tailored to the needs of human infants.

Third, HMOs have been shown to have additional health benefits beyond their prebiotic effects. For example, some HMOs have been shown to have anti-infective properties, inhibiting the growth of pathogenic bacteria and viruses, and promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria. HMOs have also been shown to support immune function, regulate gut inflammation, and improve gut barrier function.

Finally, HMOs have been extensively studied in human clinical trials, demonstrating their safety and efficacy in promoting gut health in both infants and adults. While GOS, FOS, inulin, and resistant starch have also been studied in clinical trials, the evidence for their effectiveness is not as strong as that for HMOs.

-           How much should I take of a prebiotic supplement? 

The recommended dosage of a prebiotic supplement can vary depending on the specific type of prebiotic and the individual's age, weight, and health status. However, a general guideline is to start with a low dose and gradually increase it until the desired effect is achieved without any adverse effects.

For example, a study investigating the effects of inulin supplementation on gut microbiota in healthy adults used a daily dose of 15 grams for 4 weeks without any adverse effects (Delzenne et al., 1999). Another study investigating the effects of GOS on stool frequency and microbiota composition in constipated adults used a daily dose of 10 grams for 3 weeks (Wang et al., 2019).

As for the HMO supplement 2'-fucosyllactose (2'-FL), the recommended daily dose is typically around 2-5 grams for adults here at Layer Origin. We recommend starting with low doses such as 1 g or lower for the first few days and titrate up to the 2-5 g range.

It is important to note that high doses of prebiotic supplements may cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea initially. Therefore, it is recommended to start with a low dose and gradually increase it until the desired effect is achieved without any adverse effects. 

-          Can prebiotic supplements cause side effects? 

While prebiotic supplements are generally safe and well-tolerated, they can cause side effects in some individuals, especially at higher doses. Common side effects include gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating, gas, and abdominal discomfort. These symptoms are usually mild and temporary and can be managed by reducing the dose or discontinuing the supplement.

In rare cases, prebiotic supplements can cause more severe side effects, such as allergic reactions or worsening of pre-existing digestive conditions. Individuals with pre-existing medical conditions or taking medications should consult with their healthcare provider before taking prebiotic supplements.

For HMO prebiotics, it is not recommended for people with milk allergies since HMO contains trace amount of lactose (cow’s milk). However, people with lactose intolerance can still consume HMO because of the lactose content is very low in our HMO products.

-          How long does it take to see results from taking prebiotic supplements? 

The time it takes to see results from taking prebiotic supplements can vary depending on several factors, including the individual's gut microbiome, diet, lifestyle, and the specific prebiotic supplement being used. Generally, it may take a few weeks to several months to see the full benefits of prebiotic supplementation.

A systematic review of clinical trials examining the effects of prebiotics on gut microbiota found that changes in gut microbial composition could occur within days or weeks of initiating prebiotic supplementation, but these changes were often transient and depended on the dose and duration of supplementation. The authors of the review also noted that the health benefits of prebiotics, such as improved digestion and immune function, may take longer to manifest and could require longer-term supplementation.

Another study conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in healthy adults, and found that after four weeks of supplementation with a combination of fructooligosaccharides and galactooligosaccharides, there was a significant increase in bifidobacteria and lactobacilli, which are considered beneficial bacteria, as well as a decrease in potentially harmful bacteria. The participants also reported improvements in gastrointestinal symptoms, such as bloating and constipation, suggesting that the prebiotic supplementation had a positive impact on gut health.

In summary, while changes in gut microbiota can occur within days or weeks of initiating prebiotic supplementation, it may take several weeks or months to see the full benefits of prebiotic supplementation, especially with respect to improving overall gut health. It is essential to speak with a healthcare professional before beginning any prebiotic supplementation to ensure it is safe and appropriate for your individual needs.

-          Can prebiotic supplements improve immune function?

Prebiotic supplements have been shown to improve immune function in several ways. Here are eight key ways in which they can do so:

  1. Increased production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs): Prebiotics are indigestible fibers that stimulate the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. When these bacteria ferment prebiotics, they produce SCFAs, which have been shown to modulate immune function and reduce inflammation. SCFAs can also promote the development of regulatory T cells, which help to prevent autoimmune diseases.
  2. Enhanced production of mucin: Prebiotics have also been shown to increase the production of mucin, which is a protein that lines the gut and helps to protect against pathogens. This can help to reduce the risk of infections and improve overall immune function.
  3. Increased production of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs): Prebiotics can stimulate the production of AMPs, which are molecules that help to kill harmful bacteria and viruses. AMPs can also modulate immune function and reduce inflammation.
  4. Improved gut barrier function: Prebiotics can help to strengthen the gut barrier, which helps to prevent the entry of harmful substances into the body. This can help to reduce the risk of infections and improve overall immune function.
  5. Increased production of immunoglobulin A (IgA): Prebiotics have been shown to increase the production of IgA, which is an antibody that helps to protect against pathogens. IgA can also modulate immune function and reduce inflammation.
  6. Modulation of dendritic cell function: Prebiotics can modulate the function of dendritic cells, which are immune cells that help to initiate immune responses. This can help to improve immune function and reduce the risk of infections.
  7. Modulation of natural killer cell function: Prebiotics can also modulate the function of natural killer cells, which are immune cells that help to kill infected and cancerous cells. This can help to improve immune function and reduce the risk of infections and cancer.
  8. Reduction of oxidative stress: Prebiotics have been shown to reduce oxidative stress, which is a key factor in many chronic diseases. This can help to improve overall immune function and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

 

-          Can prebiotic supplements help with weight management? 

Prebiotic supplements have been found to have numerous health benefits, one of which is their ability to aid in weight management. Here are the reasons why:

  • Regulation of appetite hormones: Prebiotics have been found to regulate the production of hormones that control appetite, such as ghrelin and leptin. These hormones play a key role in determining the feeling of hunger and fullness. Studies have shown that prebiotic supplementation can lead to reduced levels of ghrelin, the hunger hormone, and increased levels of leptin, the hormone that signals fullness. This can lead to a reduction in food intake, and thus aid in weight management.
  • Improved glucose metabolism: Prebiotic supplements have also been found to improve glucose metabolism, which can contribute to weight management. By promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, prebiotics can increase the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which have been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance. This can help prevent the development of insulin resistance, which is a risk factor for weight gain and obesity.
  • Reduced inflammation: Chronic inflammation has been linked to obesity and metabolic disorders, such as insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. Prebiotic supplements can help reduce inflammation in the body by promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, which can reduce the population of harmful bacteria that contribute to inflammation. In addition, prebiotics can increase the production of SCFAs, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Increased satiety: Prebiotic supplements can increase feelings of fullness and satiety, which can help with weight management. This is because prebiotics are fermented in the gut by beneficial bacteria, which produce SCFAs that can activate receptors in the gut that signal fullness. Additionally, prebiotics can slow the emptying of the stomach, which can lead to increased feelings of fullness and reduce overall food intake.
  • Reduced fat storage: Prebiotics have also been found to reduce fat storage in the body, which can contribute to weight management. This is because prebiotics can increase the production of SCFAs, which can promote the oxidation of fatty acids and reduce the storage of fat in adipose tissue. In addition, prebiotics can reduce the absorption of dietary fat, which can further reduce the amount of fat stored in the body.

About Layer Origin: At Layer Origin, we are dedicated to unlocking the potential of Human Milk Oligosaccharides (HMOs). We believe that only God's gift could be so perfectly designed to support our gut health. Our goal is to make this super prebiotic available for both children and adults. Check out PureHMO and SuperHMO Prebiotics 

-          Can prebiotic supplements reduce inflammation? 

Prebiotics are non-digestible dietary fibers that selectively stimulate the growth and activity of beneficial gut microorganisms. There is growing interest in the potential of prebiotic supplements to reduce inflammation, as inflammation has been linked to a wide range of chronic diseases. Here are five key points about prebiotic supplements and inflammation:

  • Prebiotic supplementation can lead to changes in the gut microbiota composition and activity, which may have anti-inflammatory effects. Some prebiotic fibers have been shown to increase the abundance of beneficial bacteria such as Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus, which are known to have anti-inflammatory properties . In addition, prebiotics can promote the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) by gut bacteria, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects .
  • Some prebiotic fibers, such as oligofructose-enriched inulin, have been shown to reduce inflammation markers such as C-reactive protein (CRP) in overweight and obese individuals. In one study, 44 overweight and obese adults consumed either 21 grams of oligofructose-enriched inulin or a placebo daily for 12 weeks. At the end of the study, the inulin group had significantly lower levels of CRP compared to the placebo group . Another study of 40 healthy adults found that a prebiotic mixture of galactooligosaccharides and fructooligosaccharides reduced levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the blood after three weeks of supplementation .
  • Prebiotics may have synergistic effects with probiotics and other dietary interventions in reducing inflammation and improving overall gut health. For example, a randomized controlled trial of 20 healthy adults found that a combination of prebiotics and probiotics improved gut microbiota diversity and reduced inflammation markers compared to a placebo . In addition, consuming a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can provide a natural source of prebiotics and may have anti-inflammatory effects .
  • HMO prebiotic reduce inflammation through 3 ways: HMO prebiotics may prevent the growth of harmful bacteria in the gut which can trigger inflammation. By promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria, HMOs can help to maintain a healthy gut microbiota and reduce inflammation. Additionally, HMOs can act as a decoy for harmful bacteria, preventing them from binding to and invading the gut lining, which can also lead to inflammation. Secondly, HMOs may help to regulate the immune system. Studies have shown that HMOs can reduce the expression of inflammatory cytokines in immune cells and increase the expression of anti-inflammatory cytokines. This suggests that HMOs can help to balance the immune response and prevent excessive inflammation. Finally, HMOs may also have direct anti-inflammatory effects. Some studies have shown that HMOs can inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory molecules in immune cells, such as tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) and interleukin-6 (IL-6). 

-           Can prebiotic supplements help prevent colon cancer? 

Colon cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the colon or rectum, and it is the third most common cancer worldwide. While several factors can increase the risk of developing colon cancer, such as age, family history, and lifestyle factors, emerging evidence suggests that prebiotic supplements may have a potential role in preventing this disease.

Prebiotics are a type of dietary fiber that are not digestible in the small intestine and instead reach the large intestine where they serve as a food source for beneficial gut bacteria. By promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria and reducing the growth of harmful bacteria, prebiotics can improve gut health and modulate the immune system, potentially reducing inflammation and oxidative stress in the colon tissue.

Several studies have investigated the potential role of prebiotics in preventing colon cancer. For example, a study published in the journal Nutrients found that a prebiotic mixture of inulin and oligofructose reduced the development of pre-cancerous lesions in the colon of rats. The prebiotic supplementation also led to a significant increase in the abundance of beneficial bacteria in the colon, including Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, which are known to have anti-cancer effects .

Another study published in the Journal of Nutrition investigated the effect of a prebiotic mixture of trans-galactooligosaccharides (TOS) on colon cancer risk factors in overweight adults. The study found that TOS supplementation reduced inflammation and improved gut health markers, including the abundance of beneficial bacteria in the gut. The authors concluded that TOS may be effective in reducing the risk of colon cancer .

In a randomized controlled trial published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers investigated the effect of inulin supplementation on biomarkers of colon cancer risk in healthy adults. The study found that inulin supplementation increased the concentration of butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid produced by gut bacteria that has anti-cancer properties. The inulin supplementation also reduced markers of inflammation and oxidative stress, both of which are associated with an increased risk of colon cancer .

While these studies suggest a potential role for prebiotic supplements in preventing colon cancer, more research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms and effectiveness of these supplements in reducing the risk of this disease. For example, a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials published in the journal Clinical Nutrition found that while prebiotic supplementation improved gut health markers and reduced inflammation, there was insufficient evidence to support a significant reduction in the risk of colon cancer .

In conclusion, prebiotic supplements may have a potential role in preventing colon cancer by improving gut health, reducing inflammation and oxidative stress, and promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria.

Disclaimer: Please note that the studies mentioned above are publicly available publications and are provided for informational purposes only. Layer Origin does not endorse the use of prebiotic supplements as a preventative measure against cancer. The information provided on this website is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease

-          Can prebiotic supplements help with constipation? 

Prebiotic supplements can be effective in alleviating constipation symptoms by promoting a healthier gut environment and stimulating regular bowel movements. Here are how prebiotic supplements can help with constipation:

  • Non-digestible: Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that selectively stimulate the growth and activity of beneficial gut bacteria, thus improving overall gut health and function.
  • More Good Bugs: Prebiotics work by passing through the small intestine without being digested, and then fermenting in the large intestine where they serve as food for the beneficial gut bacteria.
  • SCFAs: The fermentation of prebiotics produces short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which help to nourish the gut lining and stimulate bowel movements, thereby promoting regularity.
  • Reduce Bad Bugs: By increasing the number of good bacteria in the gut, prebiotics can also help to reduce harmful bacteria that may be contributing to constipation.
  • Improve Consistency: Studies have shown that prebiotic supplements can improve the frequency and consistency of bowel movements in both children and adults suffering from constipation (1, 2).
  • Reduce Transit Time: Prebiotics have also been found to reduce the transit time of stool through the colon, which can further promote regularity .
  • Use with Probiotics: The effectiveness of prebiotics may be enhanced when combined with probiotics, which are live beneficial bacteria that can also help to improve gut health and function.
  • Nature Sources: Prebiotics can be found naturally in many foods, including whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, but supplementation may be necessary to achieve a therapeutic dose.
  • Supplement Sources: HMO prebiotics, GOS, FOS, Inulin, Resistant Starch. 

-          Can prebiotic supplements help with diarrhea? 

Prebiotic supplements have been found to help with different types of diarrheas, including acute diarrhea, antibiotic-associated diarrhea, and diarrhea in infants and young children. The mechanism by which prebiotics improve gut health and function to manage diarrhea varies:

  • Acute diarrhea is usually caused by infections, and it is characterized by the rapid onset of loose or watery stools, often accompanied by cramping and abdominal pain. A review of studies published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology found that prebiotic supplementation can help to reduce the duration of acute diarrhea and decrease the risk of developing antibiotic-associated diarrhea . Prebiotics work by stimulating the growth and activity of beneficial gut bacteria, which can help to improve gut function, reduce inflammation, and strengthen the gut barrier. By promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria, prebiotics can also help to reduce the growth of harmful bacteria, which can contribute to diarrhea.
  • Antibiotic-associated diarrhea occurs when antibiotics disrupt the balance of gut microbiota, leading to the overgrowth of harmful bacteria such as Clostridium difficile. A study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology found that a multispecies probiotic supplement containing prebiotics can improve bowel movements in healthy volunteers taking the antibiotic amoxicillin . Prebiotics can help to prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea by promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, which can outcompete harmful bacteria and maintain the balance of gut microbiota.
  • Prebiotics have also been found to be effective in reducing the frequency and severity of diarrhea in infants and young children. A Cochrane review of studies found that prebiotics can reduce the risk of diarrhea in infants and may also have a preventative effect against allergy-related conditions . Prebiotics may work by modulating the gut microbiota composition and enhancing the production of SCFAs, which can help to strengthen the gut barrier, reduce inflammation, and improve gut function.

Prebiotic supplements can help to manage diarrhea by promoting the growth and activity of beneficial gut bacteria, which can help to restore the natural balance of gut microbiota, improve gut function, and reduce inflammation:

  • Increasing gut microbial diversity: Prebiotics are a type of dietary fiber that cannot be digested by humans, but can be fermented by gut bacteria in the colon. This fermentation process produces short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) such as butyrate, acetate, and propionate, which are beneficial for gut health. SCFAs can help to increase gut microbial diversity and improve gut function.
  • Regulating gut motility: Prebiotics have been shown to improve gut motility, which can help to reduce the severity and duration of diarrhea. By promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, prebiotics can help regulate the speed at which food moves through the digestive system, which can prevent diarrhea.
  • Reducing inflammation: Prebiotics can help to reduce inflammation in the gut by promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria that produce anti-inflammatory compounds. Studies have shown that prebiotics can help to reduce the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and increase the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines in the gut.
  • Preventing pathogen growth: Prebiotics can also help to prevent the growth of harmful pathogens in the gut by competing for space and nutrients with these pathogens. This can help to reduce the risk of diarrhea caused by pathogenic bacteria.
  • Enhancing gut barrier function: Prebiotics can help to enhance the gut barrier function by promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria that produce mucin, a substance that lines the gut and helps to prevent harmful substances from entering the bloodstream. This can help to reduce the risk of diarrhea caused by harmful substances in the gut.

-          Can prebiotic supplements help with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)? 

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common gastrointestinal disorder that affects up to 10-15% of the world's population. Symptoms of IBS can include abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and changes in bowel habits such as diarrhea or constipation. The cause of IBS is still not fully understood, but research has suggested that imbalances in the gut microbiota may play a role. Prebiotic supplements, including HMO prebiotics, have been studied for their potential to help manage IBS symptoms. Here are 8 ways in which prebiotics may help with IBS:

  1. Promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria: Prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates that are selectively fermented by beneficial bacteria in the gut. By promoting the growth of these beneficial bacteria, prebiotics can help to restore the natural balance of gut microbiota in people with IBS.
  2. Reducing inflammation: Imbalances in gut microbiota can lead to chronic inflammation in the gut, which may contribute to the development of IBS. Prebiotics have been shown to reduce inflammation in the gut, which may help to alleviate IBS symptoms.
  3. Improving gut motility: Prebiotics may also improve gut motility, which can help to reduce symptoms such as constipation and bloating in people with IBS.
  4. Increasing stool frequency: Studies have found that prebiotics, including HMO prebiotics, can increase stool frequency in people with IBS. This may be particularly beneficial for those with IBS-C (constipation-predominant IBS) who experience infrequent bowel movements.
  5. Alleviating abdominal pain: Prebiotics may help to alleviate abdominal pain in people with IBS by reducing inflammation in the gut and improving gut motility.
  6. Improving quality of life: IBS can significantly impact a person's quality of life, and prebiotics may help to improve symptoms and overall well-being in those with IBS.
  7. Reducing gas and bloating: Prebiotics may also help to reduce symptoms such as gas and bloating in people with IBS. This may be due to their ability to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria and reduce inflammation in the gut.
  8. Fewer side effects than other treatments: Unlike some other treatments for IBS, such as antibiotics and laxatives, prebiotics are generally well-tolerated and have few side effects.

While the research on prebiotics and IBS is still relatively limited, studies have shown promising results. For example, a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial found that supplementation with a prebiotic mixture improved abdominal pain and bloating in people with IBS compared to placebo. Another study found that supplementation with a specific HMO prebiotic reduced IBS symptoms and improved quality of life in people with IBS-D (diarrhea-predominant IBS).

It's worth noting that not all prebiotics are created equal, and some may be more effective than others for managing IBS symptoms. For example, HMO prebiotics have been shown to be particularly effective due to their unique structure and function.

In conclusion, prebiotic supplements, including HMO prebiotics, may help to manage IBS symptoms by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria, reducing inflammation, improving gut motility, and alleviating symptoms such as abdominal pain, gas, and bloating. 

-          Can prebiotic supplements help with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)? 

IBD is a chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract that includes Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. IBD patients often have an altered gut microbiota composition, with a decrease in beneficial bacteria and an increase in harmful bacteria. Prebiotics can potentially help to restore the balance of gut microbiota, improve gut barrier function, and reduce inflammation in IBD patients.

Several studies have investigated the effects of prebiotic supplements in IBD patients, with promising results. For example:

  • In a randomized controlled trial, IBD patients who received a prebiotic supplement (fructo-oligosaccharides) had significant improvements in their symptoms compared to the placebo group. The prebiotic group also had reduced inflammation markers in their blood .
  • Another study found that a prebiotic supplement (a combination of inulin and fructo-oligosaccharides) improved gut microbiota composition and reduced inflammation in patients with ulcerative colitis .
  • In a small study of Crohn's disease patients, a prebiotic supplement (galacto-oligosaccharides) improved gut barrier function and reduced inflammation markers in the blood .
  • HMO prebiotics: some studies suggest that HMOs may have a potential role in improving gut health and reducing inflammation, which are two key factors in the development of IBD. One study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that a specific type of HMO called 2'-fucosyllactose (2'-FL) reduced inflammation and improved gut barrier function in mice with induced colitis, a type of IBD. Another study published in the same journal found that feeding mice with a mixture of HMOs reduced inflammation and improved the composition of gut microbiota, which are believed to play a role in the development of IBD. While these studies are promising, more research is needed to determine the potential benefits of HMO prebiotics for the management of IBD in humans.

Overall, prebiotic supplements show promise in managing IBD by improving gut microbiota composition and reducing inflammation.

-          Can prebiotic supplements improve mental health? 

There is a growing body of research suggesting that prebiotic supplements may have a positive impact on mental health, particularly in the area of mood regulation and stress management.

Here are some potential ways in which prebiotic supplements may improve mental health:

  1. Prebiotic supplements may improve mood: Several studies have suggested that prebiotics can improve mood and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression by modulating the gut-brain axis and promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, such as bifidobacteria and lactobacilli. A study in 2019 found that prebiotic supplementation for four weeks resulted in decreased anxiety and depression in healthy adults compared to the placebo group . Another study in 2020 showed that prebiotic supplementation for eight weeks led to significant improvements in depression, anxiety, and stress in patients with major depressive disorder .
  2. Prebiotic supplements may reduce stress: Prebiotics may help to reduce stress by reducing cortisol levels and improving the stress response. A study in 2018 showed that prebiotic supplementation for three weeks resulted in reduced cortisol levels and improved attentional bias towards positive information in healthy volunteers . Another study in 2020 demonstrated that prebiotic supplementation for eight weeks led to a reduction in stress and an improvement in perceived stress in patients with major depressive disorder .
  3. Prebiotic supplements may improve cognitive function: Prebiotics have been shown to improve cognitive function and memory by promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria and reducing inflammation in the brain. A study in 2016 found that prebiotic supplementation for three weeks improved memory and reduced cortisol levels in healthy volunteers . Another study in 2019 demonstrated that prebiotic supplementation for six weeks led to improved cognitive performance in older adults .
  4. Prebiotic supplements may help symptoms of autism: Prebiotics have shown promise in reducing symptoms of autism by improving gut microbiota composition and reducing inflammation in the gut and brain. A study in 2017 showed that prebiotic supplementation for eight weeks improved gut microbiota composition and reduced gastrointestinal symptoms in children with autism spectrum disorder . Another study in 2020 demonstrated that prebiotic supplementation for six months resulted in improved social communication and behavior in children with autism spectrum disorder .
  5. Prebiotic supplements MAY help with ADHD: Prebiotics have also shown potential in reducing symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) by improving gut microbiota composition and reducing inflammation. A study in 2018 demonstrated that prebiotic supplementation for six weeks led to a reduction in hyperactivity and impulsivity in children with ADHD .
  6. Prebiotic supplements may reduce inflammation: Prebiotics have been shown to reduce inflammation in the gut and throughout the body, which may have beneficial effects on mental health. A study in 2019 found that prebiotic supplementation for four weeks reduced markers of inflammation in healthy adults compared to the placebo group . Another study in 2020 showed that prebiotic supplementation for eight weeks led to a reduction in inflammatory markers in patients with major depressive disorder .
  7. Prebiotic supplements may improve sleep: Prebiotics may help to improve sleep quality by modulating the gut-brain axis and reducing inflammation. A study in 2018 demonstrated that prebiotic supplementation for three weeks improved sleep quality and reduced cortisol levels in healthy volunteers .
  8. Prebiotic supplements may reduce symptoms of anxiety disorders: Prebiotics have shown potential in reducing symptoms of anxiety disorders by modulating the gut-brain axis and reducing inflammation. A study in 2018 demonstrated that prebiotic supplementation for four weeks resulted in decreased anxiety symptoms in healthy adults compared to the placebo group .

-          Can prebiotic supplements improve skin health? 

Prebiotic supplements have been shown to have potential in improving skin health by modulating the gut-skin axis and promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, which in turn may reduce inflammation and improve skin barrier function. Here are 8 bullet points discussing the evidence:

  • Promoting healthy skin microbiome: Prebiotics can selectively promote the growth of beneficial skin microbiota, such as Staphylococcus epidermidis, which have been associated with healthy skin and protective immune response .
  • Reducing inflammation: Prebiotic supplements have been shown to reduce inflammatory markers in the body, which may lead to improvements in skin health. A study in 2014 demonstrated that supplementation with fructooligosaccharides (FOS) led to a reduction in pro-inflammatory cytokines in healthy adults .
  • Improving skin barrier function: Prebiotics have been shown to improve skin barrier function by promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, such as Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus, which may improve skin hydration and reduce transepidermal water loss .
  • Reducing symptoms of atopic dermatitis: Prebiotic supplementation has shown promise in reducing symptoms of atopic dermatitis, a common inflammatory skin condition. A study in 2014 found that supplementation with galactooligosaccharides (GOS) resulted in a reduction in eczema severity in infants with atopic dermatitis .
  • Reducing symptoms of acne: Prebiotics may also have potential in reducing symptoms of acne by reducing inflammation and improving skin barrier function. A study in 2013 demonstrated that supplementation with a combination of FOS and GOS led to a reduction in acne lesions in adults with acne vulgaris .
  • Improving wound healing: Prebiotics have been shown to improve wound healing by promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria and reducing inflammation. A study in 2018 found that supplementation with FOS and inulin improved wound healing in rats by reducing inflammation and increasing collagen deposition .
  • Reducing photodamage: Prebiotic supplementation may also have potential in reducing photodamage, which can lead to skin aging and skin cancer. A study in 2018 showed that supplementation with lactulose and inulin reduced markers of photodamage in mice exposed to ultraviolet radiation .
  • Enhancing skin hydration: Prebiotic supplementation may improve skin hydration by promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, which in turn may improve skin barrier function. A study in 2015 demonstrated that supplementation with GOS led to improved skin hydration in healthy adults .

Overall, while more research is needed to fully understand the potential benefits of prebiotics on skin health, the available evidence suggests that they may have promise in improving skin barrier function, reducing inflammation, and reducing symptoms of certain skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis and acne.

-           Can prebiotic supplements help prevent allergies? 

Prebiotic supplements have shown promise in helping to prevent allergies by modulating the gut microbiome and reducing inflammation. Here are some potential mechanisms and supporting studies:

  • Promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria: Prebiotics can selectively stimulate the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, such as bifidobacteria and lactobacilli, which have been shown to play a role in preventing allergies. A study in 2016 found that prebiotic supplementation in pregnant women led to an increase in bifidobacteria in their infants, which was associated with a reduced risk of eczema at 6 months of age .
  • Reducing inflammation: Prebiotics have been shown to reduce inflammation in the gut and throughout the body, which may have a protective effect against allergies. A study in 2014 found that prebiotic supplementation for 6 weeks reduced markers of inflammation in allergic rhinitis patients .
  • Strengthening the gut barrier: Prebiotics can help to strengthen the gut barrier by promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria and producing short-chain fatty acids, which can help to reduce gut permeability. A study in 2019 demonstrated that prebiotic supplementation for 12 weeks led to a reduction in gut permeability in patients with atopic dermatitis .
  • Modulating the immune system: Prebiotics may help to modulate the immune system by promoting the development of regulatory T cells, which can help to prevent allergic reactions. A study in 2017 found that prebiotic supplementation for 12 weeks led to an increase in regulatory T cells in patients with atopic dermatitis .

While more research is needed to fully understand the effects of prebiotic supplementation on allergy prevention, these studies suggest that prebiotics may have a beneficial impact on the gut microbiome and immune system, which could potentially reduce the risk of allergies.

-          Can prebiotic supplements help with insulin sensitivity? 

Prebiotics have been shown to have potential benefits for improving insulin sensitivity and glucose control in both healthy individuals and those with various metabolic disorders. Here are a few mechanisms why prebiotic can help:

  • Prebiotics can stimulate the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which can improve insulin sensitivity. SCFAs are produced by the fermentation of prebiotics by gut bacteria, and have been shown to increase insulin sensitivity in both humans and animals (1, 2).
  • Prebiotics can increase the abundance of beneficial gut bacteria, such as Bifidobacteria and Akkermansia muciniphila, which have been associated with improved insulin sensitivity. These bacteria may help to regulate gut barrier function, reduce inflammation, and improve glucose metabolism (3, 4).
  • Prebiotics may improve gut barrier function, which can reduce inflammation and improve insulin sensitivity. A healthy gut barrier helps to prevent the entry of harmful bacteria and toxins into the bloodstream, which can contribute to inflammation and insulin resistance .
  • Prebiotics may help to reduce inflammation in the gut and throughout the body, which can improve insulin sensitivity. Chronic inflammation is a key contributor to insulin resistance, and prebiotics have been shown to reduce inflammatory markers in both humans and animals (6, 7).
  • Prebiotics may help to regulate the release of gut hormones, such as GLP-1 and PYY, which can improve insulin sensitivity. These hormones play a role in regulating glucose metabolism and appetite, and prebiotics have been shown to increase their production in both humans and animals (8, 9).
  • Prebiotics may improve lipid metabolism, which can improve insulin sensitivity. Studies have shown that prebiotics can reduce levels of triglycerides and cholesterol, which are risk factors for insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes (10, 11).
  • Prebiotics may improve mitochondrial function, which can improve insulin sensitivity. Mitochondria are the energy-producing organelles in cells, and dysfunction in these organelles has been linked to insulin resistance. Prebiotics have been shown to improve mitochondrial function in animal studies .
  • Prebiotics may improve liver function, which can improve insulin sensitivity. The liver plays a key role in glucose metabolism, and dysfunction in this organ can contribute to insulin resistance. Prebiotics have been shown to improve liver function in animal studies .

-          Are there any risks associated with taking prebiotic supplements? 

While prebiotic supplements are generally safe, there are some potential risks associated with their use. Here are a few risks:

  1. Gastrointestinal discomfort: Taking too much prebiotic fiber can cause gastrointestinal discomfort, including bloating, gas, and diarrhea. This is especially true for those who are sensitive to fiber or have underlying digestive issues (source: Mayo Clinic).
  2. Allergic reactions: Some people may be allergic to certain prebiotic sources, such as inulin or chicory root (source: International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders). Some people may also be allergic to milk, for example, galactooligosaccharides (GOS) and human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) prebiotics are derived from lactose (milk).
  3. Interactions with medications: Prebiotics can interact with certain medications, such as those used to treat diabetes, by altering their absorption or effectiveness (source: International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics).
  4. Risk of overgrowth: In some cases, prebiotic supplements can promote the overgrowth of certain bacteria in the gut, such as those that produce methane gas, which can lead to constipation and other digestive issues (source: Harvard Health Publishing).

It's important to note that these risks are generally rare and mild, and most people can safely incorporate prebiotic supplements into their diets.  

-           Can prebiotic supplements be taken during pregnancy or while breastfeeding?

 

While prebiotic supplements are generally considered safe for most people, including pregnant and breastfeeding women, it is recommended to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new supplement for pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Some studies have shown that prebiotic supplements can have a positive impact on maternal and fetal health during pregnancy. For example, a randomized controlled trial found that supplementation with a specific prebiotic during pregnancy improved maternal gut microbiota composition and decreased the risk of gestational diabetes . Another study found that consuming a prebiotic mixture during pregnancy increased the abundance of beneficial bacteria in breast milk, which may benefit the infant's gut microbiota .

At Layer Origin, we currently do not recommend pregnant and breastfeeding women to take HMO prebiotics. If you are pregnant and breastfeeding and want to try HMO prebiotics, it is recommended to only proceed under the approval and supervision of your primary caregiver or physician.

-          How do prebiotic supplements interact with medications? 

There is limited research on the potential interactions between prebiotic supplements and medications. However, some studies suggest that prebiotics may affect the absorption, metabolism, or efficacy of certain medications.

Here are some examples of potential interactions between prebiotics and medications:

  • Immunosuppressants: Prebiotics may interact with immunosuppressant medications, such as tacrolimus and cyclosporine, by affecting their absorption and metabolism.
  • Chemotherapy drugs: Prebiotics may interfere with the absorption and metabolism of chemotherapy drugs, potentially reducing their effectiveness.
  • Diabetes medications: Prebiotics may interact with diabetes medications, such as metformin, by affecting their absorption and metabolism. One study found that taking prebiotics alongside metformin may reduce blood glucose levels more effectively than metformin alone.
  • Heart medications: Prebiotics may interact with certain heart medications, such as digoxin, by affecting their absorption and metabolism.

-          Can prebiotic supplements be taken with probiotics?

 

Prebiotic supplements and probiotics are two types of supplements commonly used to promote gut health. While prebiotics are non-digestible dietary fibers that stimulate the growth and activity of beneficial bacteria in the gut, probiotics are live microorganisms that confer health benefits when consumed in adequate amounts. While both supplements can be beneficial on their own, there is growing interest in the potential synergistic effects of combining them. Here are 6 reasons why prebiotic supplements can be taken with probiotics:

  1. Enhance probiotic survival: Prebiotics can act as a food source for probiotics, promoting their growth and survival in the gut. In particular, some prebiotic fibers have been shown to increase the survival of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains, two common types of probiotics, in the digestive tract.
  2. Boost colonization: Prebiotics can also enhance the colonization of probiotics in the gut. By providing a favorable environment for the growth of beneficial bacteria, prebiotic fibers can increase the number of probiotic organisms that take up residence in the gut.
  3. Increase diversity: The combination of prebiotic supplements and probiotics may lead to an increase in gut microbial diversity. This can be beneficial because greater microbial diversity has been associated with a lower risk of certain diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease and type 2 diabetes.
  4. Improve immune function: The use of prebiotics in combination with probiotics may also have positive effects on immune function. Some studies have shown that the combination of prebiotics and probiotics can enhance the production of immunoglobulin A (IgA), a type of antibody that plays a key role in the immune response.
  5. Reduce side effects: Probiotics can sometimes cause digestive discomfort, such as bloating and gas. The use of prebiotics in combination with probiotics may help alleviate these side effects. Prebiotic fibers can stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria that produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which can help regulate gut motility and reduce bloating and gas.
  6. Synergistic effect: Finally, the combination of prebiotics and probiotics may have a synergistic effect on gut health. By working together, prebiotics and probiotics can enhance the overall health of the gut microbiota and promote a healthy gut environment.

Overall, prebiotic supplements can be safely taken with probiotics and may provide several potential health benefits. However, it is important to note that the effects of combining these supplements may vary depending on the specific strains and types of prebiotics and probiotics used. For example, HMO prebiotics are more selectively for Bifidobacterium, Akkermansia, Faecalibacterium, etc.

-           How do I choose the right prebiotic supplement for me? 

Choosing the right prebiotic supplement can be a daunting task, but there are several factors to consider to help make an informed decision. Here are some tips:

  1. Consider the type of prebiotic: There are different types of prebiotics, including fructooligosaccharides (FOS), galactooligosaccharides (GOS), and human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs), among others. Each type of prebiotic may have different effects on the gut microbiota, so it's important to choose a prebiotic that matches your specific health needs. For example, HMOs have been shown to have unique benefits for gut health, particularly for infants and young children .
  2. Look for a reputable brand: When choosing a prebiotic supplement, it's important to choose a brand that has a good reputation and is known for producing high-quality supplements. Look for a brand that uses third-party testing to ensure the purity and potency of their products.
  3. Consider dosage and form: The dosage and form of the prebiotic supplement can also impact its effectiveness. Some prebiotic supplements come in powder form, while others come in capsules or tablets. It's important to choose a supplement that is easy to take and fits your lifestyle. Additionally, the dosage of the prebiotic supplement should be appropriate for your age and health status.
  4. Check for allergens and additives: If you have food allergies or sensitivities, it's important to check the ingredient list of the prebiotic supplement to ensure that it does not contain any allergens or additives that may cause a reaction. GOS and HMO prebiotics usually contain allergen (milk).
  5. Consult with a healthcare professional: Before taking any new supplement, it's important to consult with a healthcare professional, particularly if you have any underlying health conditions or are taking medications. They can help you determine if a prebiotic supplement is right for you and recommend a specific product.

In summary, when choosing a prebiotic supplement, consider the type of prebiotic, the reputation of the brand, dosage and form, allergens and additives, and consult with a healthcare professional. Additionally, for individuals interested in HMOs, check out our complete line of HMO prebiotics.

-          What should I look for in a prebiotic supplement? 

  1. Type of prebiotic: There are different types of prebiotics, including fructooligosaccharides (FOS), galactooligosaccharides (GOS), inulin, and human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs). Consider which type of prebiotic may be best for you based on your specific health goals and dietary restrictions. Remember you can always add more prebiotic foods into your diet instead of getting prebiotics through supplements.
  2. Quality: Look for a supplement made with high-quality ingredients and manufactured by a reputable company. Choose a supplement that has undergone third-party testing to ensure purity and potency.
  3. Dosage: Check the recommended dosage on the label and make sure it fits with your needs and goals. Dosage can vary depending on the type of prebiotic and the specific supplement.
  4. Form: Prebiotic supplements come in various forms, including powders, capsules, and chewable tablets. Choose a form that is convenient for you to take and fits with your lifestyle.
  5. Additional ingredients: Some prebiotic supplements may contain additional ingredients, such as probiotics, digestive enzymes, or fiber blends. Consider whether these additional ingredients are necessary or beneficial for you.
  6. Allergens: If you have any food allergies or sensitivities, make sure to check the label for allergen information. Some prebiotic supplements may contain common allergens such as gluten or dairy.
  7. Price: Compare prices among different brands and types of prebiotic supplements, but don't let price be the only determining factor. A higher price doesn't always mean better quality or effectiveness.
  8. Scientific evidence: Look for prebiotic supplements that have scientific evidence to support their efficacy and safety. For example, human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) have been extensively researched and have shown potential health benefits, particularly for gut health, brain health, and immunity.

-          How do I know if a prebiotic supplement is high quality? 

  1. Type of prebiotic: Look for supplements that contain well-researched prebiotics, such as inulin, fructooligosaccharides (FOS), galactooligosaccharides (GOS), and human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs). HMOs, in particular, are gaining attention for their potential health benefits, including their ability to promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria .
  2. Purity and potency: Choose supplements that are pure and potent. Look for products that are third-party tested and certified for purity and potency, and that list the amount of prebiotic per serving.
  3. Source and manufacturing: Check the source and manufacturing process of the prebiotic supplement. Look for supplements that are made from high-quality, natural ingredients and that are manufactured using good manufacturing practices (GMPs).
  4. Form and dosage: Consider the form and dosage of the prebiotic supplement. Some prebiotics are available in powder or capsule form, while others are added to food products. Choose a form that is convenient for you and that delivers an effective dose.
  5. Research and reviews: Look for prebiotic supplements that have been researched and reviewed. Check for studies or clinical trials that support the effectiveness of the product, and read reviews from other users to get an idea of their experience with the supplement.

-          Can prebiotic supplements be taken long-term? 

  • Safety: Prebiotic supplements are generally considered safe to take long-term, as they are derived from natural sources and do not contain live microorganisms. However, it is always best to consult with a healthcare provider before taking any new supplement, especially if you have any underlying medical conditions or are taking medications.
  • Tolerance: Prebiotic supplements may cause gastrointestinal discomfort in some individuals, such as bloating, gas, or diarrhea. If you experience any adverse effects, it is recommended to stop taking the supplement or reduce the dosage. HMO prebiotics have been shown to be well-tolerated in infants and adults, with no significant adverse effects reported in clinical trials.
  • Benefits: The benefits of prebiotic supplements, including HMO prebiotics, may be more pronounced with long-term use. Regular intake of prebiotics can help promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, improve gut health, and support immune function. However, more research is needed to determine the long-term effects of prebiotic supplementation on overall health.

Overall, prebiotic supplements, including HMO prebiotics, can be taken long-term if deemed safe and well-tolerated by the individual.  

-          How should prebiotic supplements be stored? 

Prebiotic and probiotic supplements should be stored in slightly different ways to ensure their efficacy and prolong their shelf life. Here are some general guidelines on how to store prebiotic supplements compared to probiotics:

Prebiotic supplements:

  • Store prebiotic supplements in a cool, dry place away from moisture, heat, and direct sunlight.
  • Keep them in their original packaging and ensure the container is tightly sealed to prevent moisture and air exposure.
  • AVOID storing prebiotics in the refrigerator, as they are typically stable at room temperature and refrigeration can cause clumping or degradation of the product.

Probiotic supplements:

  • It is better to store probiotic supplements in the refrigerator, as they contain live microorganisms that are sensitive to heat and moisture.
  • Keep them in their original packaging and ensure the container is tightly sealed to prevent moisture and air exposure.
  • Avoid exposing probiotics to direct sunlight or high temperatures, as this can cause the live microorganisms to degrade or die off.

-          Are there any other lifestyle changes that can support gut health in addition to taking prebiotic supplements?

There are several lifestyle changes that can support gut health in addition to taking prebiotic supplements. Here are a few examples:

  1. Eat a healthy and diverse diet: A diet rich in whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein can provide the nutrients and fiber necessary for a healthy gut microbiome.
  2. Reduce stress: Chronic stress can negatively impact gut health by altering the composition and function of the gut microbiome. Engaging in stress-reducing activities such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises can be beneficial.
  3. Get enough sleep: Sleep is important for overall health, including gut health. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation can negatively impact the gut microbiome.
  4. Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water and other fluids can help support a healthy gut by aiding in digestion and promoting regular bowel movements.
  5. Exercise regularly: Regular exercise has been shown to support a healthy gut microbiome by increasing microbial diversity and promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria.
  6. Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption: Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can have negative effects on the gut microbiome and overall gut health.

Incorporating these lifestyle changes in addition to taking prebiotic supplements can help support a healthy gut microbiome and promote overall health and well-being. 

-          What are the top 20 beneficial bacteria for your gut 

There is no definitive list of the top 20 beneficial bacterial species for the gut, as the composition of the gut microbiome can vary widely between individuals. However, there are several bacterial species that are commonly found in a healthy gut microbiome and have been associated with various health benefits. Here are 20 examples:

  1. Lactobacillus acidophilus: Helps break down lactose, produces lactic acid, and supports a healthy immune system.
  2. Lactobacillus casei: Helps improve digestion, supports a healthy immune system, and may help reduce inflammation.
  3. Bifidobacterium bifidum: Helps break down complex carbohydrates, supports a healthy immune system, and may help reduce inflammation.
  4. Bifidobacterium lactis: Helps improve digestion, supports a healthy immune system, and may help reduce inflammation.
  5. Lactobacillus plantarum: Helps improve digestion, produces lactic acid, and may help reduce inflammation.
  6. Lactobacillus rhamnosus: Helps improve digestion, supports a healthy immune system, and may help reduce inflammation.
  7. Bifidobacterium breve: Helps improve digestion, supports a healthy immune system, and may help reduce inflammation.
  8. Streptococcus thermophilus: Helps break down lactose and supports a healthy immune system.
  9. Lactococcus lactis: Helps break down lactose and produces lactic acid.
  10. Bacteroides fragilis: Helps regulate the immune system and may help reduce inflammation.
  11. Faecalibacterium prausnitzii: Helps regulate the immune system and may help reduce inflammation.
  12. Akkermansia muciniphila: Helps maintain the integrity of the gut lining and may help reduce inflammation.
  13. Roseburia spp.: Helps break down complex carbohydrates and may help reduce inflammation.
  14. Eubacterium rectale: Helps break down complex carbohydrates and may help reduce inflammation.
  15. Clostridium butyricum: Helps produce butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid that supports gut health.
  16. Enterococcus faecium: Helps support a healthy immune system.
  17. Streptococcus salivarius: Helps break down carbohydrates and supports a healthy immune system.
  18. Escherichia coli: Helps produce vitamin K and supports a healthy immune system.
  19. Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron: Helps break down complex carbohydrates and supports a healthy immune system.
  20. Prevotella spp.: Helps break down complex carbohydrates and supports a healthy immune system.

It is important to note that the beneficial bacteria in the gut can vary widely between individuals, and not all strains of the above-listed species may be beneficial for everyone. Some bacteria in the list might be regarded as pathogens or bad bugs in some research. However, research in this field is ongoing, and our understanding of the specific roles of each bacterial strain in gut health is still evolving.

-          Why taking prebiotic is more important than taking probiotics; What is fiber, and why is it important for health? 

Taking prebiotics is more important than taking probiotics because prebiotics provide the nourishment that the good bacteria in our gut need to thrive and multiply, while probiotics are just the actual live bacteria. Here are some key points on prebiotics and fiber:

What are prebiotics?

  • Prebiotics are a type of dietary fiber that cannot be digested by the human body, but can be fermented by beneficial gut bacteria.
  • They are a food source for the beneficial bacteria in the gut and can promote their growth and activity.
  • Prebiotics are found in many plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.

What is fiber?

  • Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the human body cannot digest.
  • It passes through the digestive system relatively intact and provides a range of health benefits.
  • There are two main types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and can be fermented by gut bacteria, while insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water and provides bulk to stool.

Why is fiber important for health?

  • Fiber has numerous health benefits, including promoting bowel regularity, reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, and aiding in weight management.
  • Fiber can help feed the beneficial gut bacteria, which in turn produce short-chain fatty acids that can provide energy to colon cells and promote a healthy gut lining.
  • Soluble fiber can also help lower cholesterol levels and improve blood sugar control.

Why is taking prebiotics more important than taking probiotics?

  • Prebiotics are a food source for the beneficial gut bacteria and can help support the growth and activity of these bacteria in the gut.
  • Probiotics are live bacteria that can be helpful in some cases, but they do not necessarily provide a lasting benefit since they may not survive in the gut long-term.
  • Prebiotics, on the other hand, can help promote the growth and activity of beneficial gut bacteria in the long-term, which can have lasting health benefits. 

-          How can I incorporate more probiotics and prebiotics into my diet through food sources, and what are some good food sources of both?

Probiotics and prebiotics can be easily incorporated into the diet through various food sources. Here are some examples of food sources for both:

Probiotic Food Sources:

  1. Yogurt: Yogurt is one of the most well-known sources of probiotics. It contains live cultures of Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, which can help improve gut health.
  2. Kefir: Kefir is a fermented milk drink that contains multiple strains of beneficial bacteria and yeast. It is rich in probiotics and has a tangy, slightly sour taste.
  3. Sauerkraut: Sauerkraut is a type of fermented cabbage that contains high levels of Lactobacillus bacteria. It can be eaten as a side dish or added to sandwiches and salads.
  4. Kimchi: Kimchi is a Korean dish made from fermented vegetables, typically cabbage. It is rich in beneficial bacteria and has a spicy, tangy flavor.
  5. Kombucha: Kombucha is a fermented tea that is rich in probiotics and other beneficial compounds, such as antioxidants and organic acids.

Prebiotic Food Sources:

  1. Garlic: Garlic is rich in fructooligosaccharides (FOS), which are prebiotic fibers that can help promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
  2. Onions: Onions contain inulin, a type of prebiotic fiber that can help improve gut health and digestion.
  3. Bananas: Bananas are a rich source of prebiotic fiber, particularly resistant starch, which can help improve gut health and regulate blood sugar levels.
  4. Asparagus: Asparagus contains high levels of inulin, a prebiotic fiber that can help improve gut health and reduce inflammation.
  5. Jerusalem artichoke: Jerusalem artichokes are a type of root vegetable that are rich in inulin, making them an excellent prebiotic food source.

Incorporating probiotics and prebiotics into the diet can be as simple as adding a serving of yogurt or sauerkraut to a meal or snacking on a banana or some raw garlic. It is recommended to aim for a variety of probiotic and prebiotic food sources to ensure a diverse and healthy gut microbiome.

-          The brief history of human milk oligosaccharide 

  • 1954: The first HMO, lacto-N-fucopentaose I (LNFP I), is discovered by German researcher Karl Meyer.
  • 1980s: More HMOs are identified by different researchers, including lacto-N-difucohexaose I (LDFH I), lacto-N-tetraose (LNT), and 2’-fucosyllactose (2’-FL).
  • 1990s: Researchers begin to study the potential health benefits of HMOs, including their ability to prevent the attachment of harmful bacteria in the gut.
  • 2000s: Advances in technology, including mass spectrometry and gene sequencing, make it easier to study and produce HMOs in large quantities.
  • 2015: The first commercially available HMO, 2’-fucosyllactose (2’-FL), is launched by the company Jennewein Biotechnologie.
  • 2016: The Human Milk Oligosaccharides for Health and Development (HMO4HD) consortium is established to further study the potential benefits of HMOs.
  • 2018: Nestlé launches an infant formula containing two HMOs, 2’-fucosyllactose (2’-FL) and lacto-N-neotetraose (LNnT).
  • 2020: The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) approves the use of HMOs, specifically 2’-fucosyllactose (2’-FL), in infant formula.
  • 2021: US-based nutrition start-up Layer Origin Nutrition has launched seven supplements containing human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) for both adults and children. 

References: 

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