One of the signs that point to an individual’s good overall health status is a healthy gut. In humans, a healthy gut consists of a well-balanced mixture of gut flora—the so-called good and bad bacteria.
Prebiotics is a type of dietary fiber that provides nourishment to the beneficial bacteria living in our gut.
If you seek to improve your gut health, taking prebiotics may be a good and practical idea. In this article, learn more about prebiotics and how you can take them to maximize their benefits for a healthy gut.
Table of Contents
What are Prebiotics?
Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that can stimulate the growth and activity of beneficial microorganisms in our gut. They’re composed of complex carbohydrates, such as inulin and fructooligosaccharides (FOS), and resistant starch.
Most of these are of human origin. Moreover, due to recent advancements in microbiology, new or previously unexplored microorganisms are now being investigated for potential human applications. 
Because of the various health claims and popularity of prebiotics, many researchers performed experiments and investigative studies in an attempt to elaborate on how it works.
The most common mechanism of action identified was the ability of prebiotics to feed the microbes in your gut and stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria.
Who Can Benefit From Prebiotics?
A range of diseases have been identified as indications for taking prebiotics. These medical conditions, which are not limited to only gastrointestinal, have shown to have an improved response when afflicted individuals include prebiotics as a non-pharmacologic management. Prebiotics are recommended for the following: 
- Heart Disease
- Colorectal Cancer Prevention
How To Take Prebiotics?
Prebiotics come in a variety of different forms. They are available in fermented foods, capsules, liquids, and powders. According to experts, it is best to take prebiotics before a meal.
Generally, taking prebiotics is acceptable at any time of the day as long as it is done consistently.
The timing of prebiotic consumption may vary depending on some factors:
- Stomach Acid: Unlike probiotics, prebiotic fiber is unaffected by our stomach acid. Timing them based on an empty or full stomach is unnecessary.
- Medications: It is recommended to take prebiotics at least two hours before or after taking them.
- Digestive Conditions: If you have conditions such as IBS, SIBO, or FODMAP, taking prebiotics before bedtime may be preferable to avoid any mild side effects such as gas or diarrhea. Starting with a small dose is recommended to mitigate these effects.
What Will Happen After Taking Prebiotics?
An important thing to note is that prebiotics are not appropriate for everyone because they can worsen the symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). This happens because rapid fermentation causes gas, bloating, diarrhea, or constipation in patients who are sensitive.
People with Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) or FODMAPs intolerance should not take prebiotics. 
Who Should Not Take Prebiotics?
Although the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has labeled prebiotics as ‘Generally Recognized as Safe’ (GRAS), there has been insufficient evidence available on whether prebiotics is safe or not in vulnerable individuals with certain clinical conditions.
- Crohn’s Disease
- Gastrointestinal disorders
- Allergies to pollen or dust
- Weakened immune systems
- Chronic medical conditions
- Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
- FODMAPs intolerance
- Pregnant women and young children
Prebiotics are great for improving digestion and metabolism. You should consider taking prebiotics if you are looking to improve your gut health, enhance the growth of beneficial bacteria, boost your immune system, and potentially reduce the risk of certain diseases.
However, it is always best to consult with your healthcare professional before starting any supplement regimen to ensure it’s safe and appropriate for your needs.
Disclaimer: This article is only a guide. It does not substitute the advice given by your healthcare professional. Before making any health-related decision, consult your healthcare professional.
Editorial References And Fact-Checking
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