Prebiotics are a source of food for probiotics to grow, multiply and survive in the gut.

Prebiotics are fibres which cannot be absorbed or broken down by the body and therefore serve as a great food source for probiotics, in particular the Bifidobacteria genus, to increase in numbers. The most common definition of prebiotics is: "non-digestible food ingredients that beneficially affect the host by selectively stimulating the growth and/or activity of one or a limited number of bacteria in the colon, which can improve host health."

Prebiotics in food

Prebiotics occur naturally in our diet and prebiotic fibres can be found in Jerusalem artichokes, garlic, chicory, and onions amongst other things. One may have to eat large quantities of these foods to have a ‘bifidogenic’ effect – that is to increase the levels of friendly bacteria in our intestines. For this reason many people find it easier to take a prebiotic supplement, or a combination probiotic and prebiotic supplement (called a synbiotic) to ensure they are feeding their levels of friendly bacteria.

Research shows that there are different types of prebiotics, in a similar manner as there are different types of probiotics. With prebiotics, the key differentiating factor is the length of the chemical chain – short chain; medium chain or long chain determines where in the gastrointestinal tract the prebiotic has its effect, and how the benefits may be felt by the host.

Common prebiotics include: inulin, Fructooligosaccharides (FOS), galactooligosaccharides (GOS), lactulose and lafinose.

Prebiotics in our range

Within the OptiBac Probiotics range, the prebiotic FOS can be found in 'For every day', 'One week flat' (formerly called 'For a flat stomach'), 'For babies & children' and 'Bifidobacteria & fibre' (formerly 'For maintaining regularity'). Fructooligosaccharides prebiotics are low molecular weight carbohydrates which only promote growth of probiotics. FOS is probably the most researched of the prebiotic fibres.

OptiBac probiotics bifidobacteria and fibre supplement imageOptiBac probiotics one week flat supplement imageOptiBac probiotics for every day supplement imageOptiBac probiotics for babies and children supplement image

For more information on prebiotics, healthcare professionals can read the in-depth article and research analysis by Dr Georges Mouton, 'The Uses of Prebiotics'.

NB: In some cases, prebiotics can cause minor disturbance / flatulence in the first few days of taking them… but after 3-4 days of continued use (once the intestines have adapted to the prebiotics) this discomfort tends to disappear. Many practitioners make their clients aware of this when recommending prebiotics, especially in higher doses.

For more in-depth information about prebiotics, see :

Probiotics & Prebiotics


  • As a biology student I need detailed information about probiotics & prebiotics.

  • Response from OptiBac Probiotics

    Dear Selam tamrat,

    Thank you for your question, and your interest in our products.
    As experts in probiotics, we are often approached by students for more information about probiotics. If you can't find what you need on our website by checking out the Frequently Asked Questions page, and also our Research pages, which give details of the studies that support our product range, then you should take a look at our News and Blog pages as these give details of the latest studies emerging from the world of probiotic research.

    If you have any specific questions about probiotics and prebiotics, then do feel free to contact me on [email protected]

    Wishing you all the best with your studies!


  • Hello,

    I am really glad to have found this website.
    I am currently living in France and I would like to purchase some probiotics but I found that when I lived in Australia many of the brands were refrigerated.

    Will the quality of the product be reduced by shipping if it is not refrigerated?

    And what are your findings on the difference between shelf probiotics and ones that recommend refrigeration?

    Thank you kindly,
    Rebecca A

  • Response from OptiBac Probiotics

    Dear Rebecca,

    Thanks for your question, and your interest in our website.

    First of all, I can only comment on the viability of our own product range, but can advise you that, due to the quality of our probiotic strains and the lyophilisation (freeze-drying) process which they undergo during manufacturing, the probiotics are perfectly stable at room temperature (around 25 degrees) and are absolutely safe to make a long journey by post. Even when we ship to extremely hot countries, short-term exposure to high temperatures should not harm the live cultures. We fill each capsule with far more bacteria than the number of billions stated on the pack, in order to guarantee this amount until the date of expiry.
    Regarding the comparison between refrigerated or non-refrigerated brands: we believe that as long as a probiotic supplement is guaranteed to contain the stated number of live cutlures at the date of expiry rather than at the date of manufacture, then it doesn't really matter whether a probiotic is kept in the fridge or at ambient temperature.

    We offer shelf-stable products because they are convenient for our customers, because it means that we do not have to rely on delivery carriers or retailers storing them in fridges whilst they are still in the supply chain.

    For more information, see 'Do OptiBac Probiotics require refrigeration?'

    I hope that this answers your question.

    best wishes,

    Nutritional Advisor
    OptiBac Probiotics

  • Very good information for a food technologist and nutrition expert.

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