Spoons full of different prebiotics

Gut Health and Prebiotics

CDHF

Written by: CDHF

Updated: November 3rd, 2022

There’s lots of talk about probiotics these days and their role in digestive health and disease. while probiotics and prebiotics sound similar, they actually are very different and have different roles in gut health.

Probiotics are live microorganisms that when taken in sufficient amounts can provide health benefits. They are naturally created by the process of fermentation in foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, miso soup, kimchi, and others. Probiotics are also available in supplement form and as an added ingredient in health products like yogurt and health drinks.

So what are prebiotics then and how do they differ from probiotics? What do they do for us, and how can I get more of them in my diet? Keep reading…

What are prebiotics?

Simply put, they are food for beneficial microbes that live on or in us. Prebiotic fibre goes through the small intestine undigested and is fermented when it reaches the large colon. The fermentation process feeds beneficial bacteria colonies (including probiotic bacteria) and helps to increase the number of desirable bacteria in our gut, positively impacting the gut environment, with an overall health benefit.

When we don’t fuel our gut bacteria with enough prebiotics, bacteria have to find fuel from other sources. It’s been shown that bacteria will eat the all-important mucous layer in your gut – which is your first line of defence against invasion of potential harmful compounds.

Dr. Frank W. Jackson, gastroenterologist – explains the difference between a probiotic and prebiotic with a helpful metaphor of a garden. “You can add seeds—the probiotic bacteria—while the prebiotic fiber is the water and fertilizer that helps the seeds to grow and flourish.” 

So if you put that into the context of your body.. while you are getting enough probiotics in your diet – do not forget about the prebiotics that feed the microbes that keep you healthy and happy every day.

Which foods help me to boost prebiotics in my diet?

Fibre happens to be an excellent source of prebiotics. These little helpers can be found in vegetables, grain products, nuts and seeds, prebiotic supplements and the soluble fibre called inulin. As the name suggests, soluble fibres dissolve in water. Inulin is found in many plants and vegetables, such as asparagus, garlic, leeks, onions, tomatoes, and artichokes. Refer to our handy chart on dietary products you should be including in your diet below:

Other sources include fibre supplements. As always, It’s important that you talk to your doctor before taking a supplement and make sure that you’re taking the fibre that’s right for you!

How much should you be getting? 

While there isn’t a recommended daily amount of prebiotics to consume, Health Canada recommends for women 25 grams of fibre per day and for men 28 grams of fibre per day. According to a recent study Belanger et al. * the actual intakes of dietary fibre for Canadian men is 19.1 g/day and for women is 15.6 g/day – so most Canadians are only getting about half of the recommended fibre intake.

We know it can be tough. Next time you are at the grocery store, spend time exploring the produce section, it’s the largest section in the store. Fill your cart with lots of colourful fruits, vegetables and try to buy in season. The more colour you have, the more variety of vitamins, minerals and fibre you will be eating. That way you can reach your daily dose of 25 to 38 grams, without even having to think about it!

Related Articles:

View all News & Articles

child high living doctor

Should my Child Take Probiotics?

low fodmap diet on a phone

Understanding the low FODMAP Diet

Women speaking online on computer with a registered dietitian

Online Nutrition Courses from Registered Dietitians

Probiotic animation

Understanding Pre and Probiotics Animation

antibiotics

Should You Take Probiotics While on Antibiotics?

A Pharmacist’s Guide to Choosing the Right Probiotic

Family eating healthy meal

Family Friendly Snack Ideas

Culturelle Kids Probiotics box

Culturelle® Kids – CDHF Certified Product

Culturelle Probiotic Box

Culturelle Probiotics® – CDHF Certified Product

Yoga for Digestion

Activia lactose free yogurt on a kitchen counter

Activia Lactose Free Yogurt – CDHF Certified Product

5 Strategies for Living Gluten-Free

salad with apple beets and chickpeas

Increase Your Fibre Intake

Types of Berries

The Power of Berries- Colourful and Kick-Ass Nutrition

Porrdge

Creamy, High Protein Breakfast Porridge

Bowl of Slaw

Crack Slaw Stir-fry

Grocery shopping with list

Make your Weekly Grocery Shop a Breeze: Amanda’s Top 5 Tips

Peppermint

Peppermint Fixes More Than Just Bad Breath

Spoons full of different prebiotics

Gut Health and Prebiotics

Family smiling into camera

5 Nutrition Tips for You and Your Family this Summer

Does Hot Weather Affect Digestion?

Man eating a burger with pink microbe background

Strange (Fermented) Burger Toppings That Taste Amazing!

Women holding a probiotic in her hand with a purple background

Probiotics for Adult Health

Baby with pink microbes in the back

Your Guide to: Probiotics for Children

Dragana CDHF Talks

Probiotics: Myth-Busting and Burning Questions

Doctor looking at probiotics

Understanding Probiotics

Women looking at labels in the grocer store

Understanding Fibre Nutrition Claims

Beginning frame of Understanding Fibre Animation

Understanding Fibre Animation

Fibre Benefits

Fibre & Its Benefits

Hand squeezing a grapefruit

Diets Used for IBS

girl pondering with blue microbes in the bakground

Probiotics: How to Choose the Right one

friends smiling in kitchen

7 Day Gluten-Free Diet Plan

Women and male bathroom stall

Managing your Digestive Health in the Workplace Webinar

Taking a photo of food

Diet & Lifestyle Changes for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Cutting up meat and vegetables in the kitchen

Eating for 1 Trillion

Women laughing in yoga pose

Wait… My Gut Affects My Mental Health?

heart shaped bowls filled with fruits

10 Ways to Strengthen Your Microbiome

Kefir

What is Kefir and is it Good for You?

Women holding a salad

Busting Gut Health Buzz Words

Bowl of berries

Fibre Does More Than Make You Poo

Exercising and drinking water

Trying to Eat Healthier? Make it a Habit!

Bowl of healthy salad and tofu

Mental Health and Nutrition

Turkey pesto meatballs

Turkey Pesto Meatballs

Person on computer at home working

Staying Healthy at Home!

Man drinking water

Pre and Post Surgery Nutrition and Lifestyle Strategies to Optimize your Recovery

Brown bag of groceries spilling out of bag

How to Manage Stress Eating and Snack Smart at Home

Drinking water side eye pink background

The Importance of Staying Hydrated: General Hydration and Virus Recovery

Egg and leeks

How to Stay Fuller Longer

Pregnant women in pink shirt smiling down at stonach

Prenatal Health and Your Baby

woman comforting elderly man

Preventing GI Disorders in Adults and the Elderly

Pink pills on a blue background

Did You Know That Some Probiotics May Help With IBS?

Candy

Trick or Treating Safely with Digestive Conditions

CDHF Talks: The Role of Nutrition/Diet in a Healthy Gut Microbiota

Bone broth

Is Bone Broth Healthy?

Leafy greens on purple background

Gut Bacteria and Leafy Greens

CDHF Partners with Metro and their Wellness Program Catered to Digestive Health Issues

World Digestive Health Day: Obesity

Person grocery cart shopping

Help with Choosing Healthy Grocery Products

Senior and adult cooking in the kitchen

Diet & Nutrition Tips for Seniors and their Caregivers

Probiotics vs prebiotics

Probiotics vs Prebiotics

Bowl of fruit with pink microbe background

Prebiotics vs Dietary Fibre

Probiotics vs Prebiotics: Animation

Probiotics vs Fermented Foods: Animation

Dietary Fibre vs Prebiotics: Animation

CDHF Talks: Protein and Fibre

peaches

Tips for Eating Well with Rising Food Costs

man holding takeout box and clutching stomach

What is a Food Intolerance?

meal planning sheet

Two Day Meal Plan with Lactose Intolerance

Gatepkeeper of your health

How Nutrition Can Support Gut Health and the Immune System

Common food allergies o blue background

What is a Food Allergy?

The Power of Oats: Can They Play a Role in the Gluten Free Diet?

Feeding your Microbiota Fibre, Prebiotics, and Probiotics

Women drinking wine with pink microbe background

Alcohol and IBS

Digestive Health 101 Webinar

healthy foods

Diet & Lifestyle Changes for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)

Clipboard that says diet plan surrounded by healthy smoothies and vegetables

Diet Plan for Gastroparesis

Activia smootie

Activia Smoothie

healthy food at dinner table

Nutrition Tips for Aging Well

Activia plant based yogurt on a kitchen counter

Activia Plant-Based Yogurt – CDHF Certified Product

Black Diamond Probiotic Cheesestrings

Black Diamond® Cheestrings® Probiotic – CDHF Certified Product

Astro yogurt on a kitchen counter

Lactalis Canada Introduces Astro® PROTEIN & FIBRE Yogourt

Astro yogurt on a kitchen counter

Astro Protein and Fibre Stirred Yogourt – CDHF Certified Product

Bio-K+ IBS Pro

Bio-K+ IBS Pro – CDHF Certified Product

The Cultured Coconut bottle on a kitchen counter

The Cultured Coconut – CDHF Certified Product

Active Smoothies on a kitchen counter

Activia Smoothie – CDHF Certified Product

apples and a bottle of apple cider vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar for Digestion. What’s the Deal?