Fascinating research continues to discover vital, far-reaching health benefits that come from a healthy gut microbiome. From optimal immune function, to metabolism, digestion, mental health and much more—the diverse population of beneficial microbes that make up your unique microbiome work hard to keep you healthy.
And as we learn more about their benefits, we’re also learning exactly how to nourish and enhance these good bacteria, so they can do their jobs right. Because when your friendly flora perform their best, so do you.
How do we nourish and power the good bacteria in our gut? With the nutrients they need most to thrive: Special fibers called prebiotics.
What Are Prebiotics?
Prebiotics are specific polysaccharide nutrients from plant-based foods, so they’re different from probiotics, which are living beneficial microbes. For optimal gut health—and beyond—you need to supply your body with both pre AND probiotics.
Prebiotics aren’t digestible, which means they pass through to your large intestines, where they feed the populations of healthy microbes so they can flourish and thrive.
While probiotics have been getting most of the research attention, prebiotics are starting to catch up, as scientists investigate which foods and prebiotic nutrients work best for certain bacteria.
Prebiotics for Stress, Cognitive Health and Sleep
New studies showing the direct benefits of prebiotics on human health are adding to this growing body of knowledge. For example, prebiotics are shown to benefit people with anxiety, depression, and cognitive deficits—coinciding with other research showing that probiotic supplements can support numerous aspects of mental health.1
Other studies show that prebiotic nutrients can help improve relaxation and sleep quality, while protecting gut microbes against the damaging effects of stress.
This latter point is huge. Chronic stress can weaken and deplete the good bacteria in your gut. But research shows that prebiotic nutrients can protect against these effects, and also improve sleep quality.
One study showed that a prebiotic-rich diet promoted deeper, more restful and reparative sleep, including greater REM sleep following a period of stress. REM sleep is an essential sleep repair mechanism to buffer against the damaging effects of stress.2,3
What are the Best Prebiotic Foods?
People who consume a varied selection of prebiotic plant-based foods demonstrate a healthier and more robust population of diverse microbes in their gut. This results in better digestive health, less stress and other neurological benefits, improved sleep, balanced immunity, greater nutrition—and much more.
Some of the top prebiotic-rich foods include:
- Chicory root
The prebiotic compounds in these foods are classified under names including:
- Pectic oligosaccharides (from modified citrus pectin)
Prebiotics and Probiotics
Probiotic supplements can deliver a wealth of benefits for gut health and microbiome diversity. But that’s only if the good bacteria they contain are active, robust and viable within the formula. Otherwise, they pass straight through your GI tract and don’t colonize your gut. Unfortunately, research shows that this is the case for many people taking regular capsule-based probiotic supplements.
In my practice, many of my patients were having this very problem: Taking expensive probiotic capsules, but not experiencing any benefits.
Until we developed the perfect pre + probiotic formula.
Organic Pre + Probiotic Herbal Elixir
This organic, live-fermented elixir contains 8 living probiotic strains, together with POS prebiotic nutrients from modified citrus pectin, plus 19 digestive herbs which provide additional GI benefits as well as nutrients for the probiotics. This living formula delivers unparalleled digestive support—even for patients with long-standing digestive conditions—in a fast-acting, broad-spectrum blend of pre + probiotics and powerful healing herbs.
As human microbiome research continues to expand, we can look forward to more in-depth and personalized approaches to diagnose and treat even our most complex health concerns—drawing on the vast network of friendly flora that contribute exponentially to our long-term wellness and vitality. Stay tuned.
Paiva IHR, Duarte-Silva E, Peixoto CA. The role of prebiotics in cognition, anxiety, and depression. Eur Neuropsychopharmacol. 2020 May;34:1-18.
Thompson RS, Roller R, Mika A, et al. Dietary Prebiotics and Bioactive Milk Fractions Improve NREM Sleep, Enhance REM Sleep Rebound and Attenuate the Stress-Induced Decrease in Diurnal Temperature and Gut Microbial Alpha Diversity. Front Behav Neurosci. 2017;10:240. Published 2017 Jan 10. doi:10.3389/fnbeh.2016.00240.
Thompson, R.S., Vargas, F., Dorrestein, P.C. et al. Dietary prebiotics alter novel microbial dependent fecal metabolites that improve sleep. Sci Rep 10, 3848 (2020).