When it comes to promoting gut health, you’ve probably heard of probiotics (the “good” bacteria in your gut), but what about prebiotics? While both are types of bacteria, prebiotics contain non-digestible ingredients that fuel the growth of probiotic bacteria present in the body—think probiotic fertilizer. Having a good balance of both prebiotics and probiotics in your system is key to promoting gut health and alleviating gut-related diseases such as IBS.
A diet high in fiber and plant-based foods, including garlic, vegetables, fruits and legumes, is a good way to jumpstart prebiotic levels. Other sources of prebiotics include raw chicory root, artichoke, leeks, onion, asparagus, wheat and banana. When it comes to cooking, these foods lose some of their prebiotic fibers when heated, so eating them raw (in a salad for example) increases the amount of prebiotics you’ll retain. Aim to consume at least 5 grams of prebiotic-dense food a day.
Awareness around the importance of prebiotics as a functional food is growing among health-conscious consumers. Functional foods are defined as foods that have a potentially positive effect on health beyond basic nutrition. “The global functional foods market size is projected to reach $275 billion by 2025,” according to a report by Grand View Research, Inc. How will prebiotics contribute to this growth? Adroit Market Research predicts the prebiotic market size will grow from $3 billion in 2017 to $9 billion by 2025.
Increased research and development around prebiotics, spurred on by increased consumer interest in the segment, is leading to a variety of new delivery formats from manufacturers: capsules, powders, chewables, tablets and liquids are now available for fast and easy prebiotic intake. The prebiotic market is extending its reach into fiber supplements, infant formula, breakfast cereals, animal feed and other dietary products.
As consumers place more emphasis on leading a healthy lifestyle and adding functional foods into their diets, brands and retailers have an opportunity to capitalize on this growing gut-health trend.