Prebiotics: Do you need them in your supplements?


In this video, I answer a question about prebiotics, which are plant fibres that feed your gut bacteria and help it grow.

The goal is to have more of the "good" bacteria such as Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria in your colon. These strains can help with anxiety and support your immune system.

Prebiotics can be found in probiotic supplements or sold on their own. 

You will often find these written in the non-medical ingredients section of your bottle label.

Common prebiotics found in supplements are:

  • Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS)
  • Inulin
  • Larch Arabinogalactan


You can also get prebiotics from your diet by eating dark leafy greens, root vegetables and complex carbohydrates. 

Examples of food sources of prebiotics:

  • Garlic *
  • Onions * 
  • Carrots
  • Kale
  • Spinach

* avoid with SIBO


Can you take a prebiotic and feel worse?

Yes! A word of caution: If you have IBS or SIBO, some prebiotics could actually upset your stomach and make you more bloated.

This is because they are high in FODMAP and are a food source for the inflammatory bacteria, meaning they actually feed the bacteria that's causing your SIBO in the first place. 


If you have SIBO, it's a good idea to avoid prebiotics such as FOS in supplements all together.


If you are on a FODMAP diet, one prebiotic that could be more tolerable to have is a small portion of flaxseed powder or shredded coconut. Try to alternate the two, even take it every other day and don't go over 1 tablespoon per day.

You can slowly increase the daily amount once you build up your gut health. 


Try a step-by-step approach:

1. Try a single strain probiotic without prebiotics

2. Then try a multi-strain probiotic without prebiotics

3. Then try a probiotic with added prebiotics 

Read more on how to pick a probiotic here.


When is a good time to take a prebiotic if you have SIBO?

There is a time and a place for prebiotics but often I see people make the mistake of taking prebiotics too soon, before they have killed off the bacteria that's causing the stomach discomfort.

It's ok to take a prebiotic fibre once you have identified your food sensitivities, have treated your IBS or SIBO with antimicrobials and healed your leaky gut. 

A prebiotic can be helpful in maintaining a healthy gut flora balance at at the end of your gut healing program and when you are doing a challenge or a re-introduction after an elimination FODMAP diet (often used for SIBO).