Prebiotics are a source of food for probiotics to grow, multiply and survive in the gut. Because they are fibres they cannot be absorbed or broken down by the body, enabling them to nourish friendly bacteria, particularly the Bifidobacteria genus, to increase in numbers.

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 of probiotics 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 friendly bacteria. 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; probably the most researched of the prebiotic fibres), galactooligosaccharides (GOS), lactulose and lafinose. An expert panel convened by the International Scientific Association in 2017 agreed on the following definition: 'A prebiotic is a substrate that is selectively utilised by host microorganisms conferring a health benefit'1

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 a few days of continued use (once the intestines have adapted to the prebiotics), this discomfort tends to disappear.

For more information about this, see our FAQ page: Are there any side effects from taking live cultures?


For more in-depth information about prebiotics, see :

Probiotics & Prebiotics


  • Its topic very interesting and learning. I am clearly understand it. Thanks

  • i am a microbiologist student and i need information about prebiotic and probiotic

  • Hi Abebe,

    Thank you for your comment.
    We are always keen to help students find suitable research for their work.In the first instance, I would encourage you to further explore the very comprehensive information available on our website. Our News and Blogs section contains information on the latest studies in this area of research, and our Research section provides details of the various scientific studies and clinical trials that support each of our products. You will see that this is a very broad field of research, so if you have any more specific queries about the use of probiotics, then please feel free to contact me on [email protected].

    Wishing you the best of health,


  • 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.

  • Healthy gut flora is largely responsible for overall health of the host. It plays an crucial role in digestion, nutrition and metabolism,(e.g., the regulation of cholesterol absorption, blood pressure (BP), and glucose metabolism), inflammation and cell proliferation, protection from pathogens and development of the immunity.

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