Don't Forget This Vital Ingredient When It Comes to Gut Health

The 8 Best Prebiotics for Women, Hands Down


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You've probably heard about probiotics and their benefits on gut health. And you might know that gut health affects pretty much every inch of your body, from your digestive system to your immune system to your skin. But did you know that your body also needs prebiotics to help those probiotics work their magic?

"The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics officially defines a prebiotic as 'a substrate that is selectively utilized by host microorganisms conferring a health benefit,'" explains Jennifer Martin-Biggers, PhD, MS, RDN, VP of scientific affairs and education at Hum Nutrition. "A simpler definition is that a prebiotic is a food ingredient that feeds and nourishes good bacteria in your gut to confer health benefits. The most common prebiotic ingredients are non-digestible fibers, like inulin or chicory root. There are other types of ingredients researchers continue to explore that meet the definition of prebiotics but are not fibers, like lactoferrin (a protein in milk) and bacteriophages."

The 8 Best Prebiotics for Women, Hands Down


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The best way to make sure you're getting enough prebiotics is to make sure you're eating a varied diet that includes prebiotic-rich foods, which are also rich in other nutrients, Martin-Biggers explains. And you can be strategic about what type of prebiotic-rich food to incorporate into your diet because they can have specific benefits. "For example, glucomannan, a prebiotic fiber from the konjac root, has been shown to stimulate the growth of certain 'good' bacteria that actually inhibit growth of 'bad' bacteria," she says. "Beta-glucan from oats and barley has been shown in clinical studies to help reduce cholesterol and promote heart health."

Other foods that are a great source of prebiotics include onion, leeks, and garlic—they're rich in inulin and fructooligosaccharides (FOS) that promote the growth of healthy bacteria. Apples, grapefruits, lemons, and oranges contain pectin, a soluble fiber that promotes healthy gut bacteria and might help decrease inflammation, Martin-Biggers adds.

The 8 Best Prebiotics for Women, Hands Down


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While you can get most of the prebiotics you need through your diet, there are some situations where you'll want to add some supplements to your routine. Martin-Biggers recommends you consider a prebiotic supplementation if you aren't eating 25 to 38 grams per day of fiber or are looking for specific health benefits. "Look at supplement facts or ingredient lists for inulin or chicory root, konjac root glucomannan, fructooligosaccharides (FOS), or galactooligosaccharides (GOS)," she suggests. "It's important to note that inulin prebiotic fiber from chicory root can cause bloating and discomfort in large quantities. If you're starting a new prebiotic regimen, I recommend slowly adding any inulin sources as your gut microbiome adjusts to the new fiber source."

You can also try synbiotic supplements, which mean they contain both prebiotics and probiotics that are specifically chosen to convey a certain health benefit, she adds.

Take a look at the best prebiotics for women below, and some other probiotics and synbiotics to shop.

Now's supplement powder contains Fibersol-2, which is a soluble fiber derived from non-GMO corn that actually helps you feel fuller up to two hours after a meal. It also helps you maintain regularity.

This supplement feeds the "good" bacteria and targets the "bad" bacteria. It's designed to help ease any digestion problems, like bloating, gas, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

If you have a sensitive stomach, this powder won't mess with it. It contains acacia fiber which slows fermentation to support digestive health.

Formulated with inulin and fructooligosaccharides (FOS), this supplement promotes the "friendly" bacteria in the gut and nourishes the microbiome. It's recommended to put one scoop of this powder into water, juice, a smoothie, or another favorite beverage. It's vegan- and vegetarian-friendly, too.

You get 17 grams of plant-sourced prebiotics with one serving of this powder. It's keto-friendly, sugar-free, gluten-free, non-GMO, and soy-free.

This chewable prebiotic supports healthy bacteria without causing any GI discomfort by using low doses. It has a natural strawberry flavor.

Swanson's prebiotic provides 95% short-chain fructooligosaccharide (FOS) content to promote healthy digestion and "good" bacteria. The supplements undergo third-party testing, so that's a good indicator that it's a high-quality product.

This prebiotic is an organic and food-based blend that benefits digestion and your gut microbiome. It's also formulated to increase energy and mental clarity.

Probiotics and Synbiotics to Shop

"I always recommend products with clinically researched active ingredients and products that have themselves been clinically studied," Martin-Biggers says. "I love Hum's Skin Squad pre-probiotic as it ticks both of those boxes and is fantastic to support healthy skin, especially in people prone to breakouts. We worked with a dermatologist who conducted a clinical study with 27 women who took Skin Squad daily for two months. At the end of the study, 88% had an improvement in the severity of their breakouts but there was also an increase in skin hydration and improvements in digestion."

Seed's supplement contains 24 probiotic strains and a polyphenol-based prebiotic. The outer capsule is a prebiotic and the inner capsule contains the probiotic formula.

Ritual's Synbiotic+ is a three-in-one product—a prebiotic, probiotic, and postbiotic. The probiotic strains provide relief from digestion discomfort (bloating, gas, diarrhea); the prebiotic targets the "bad" bacteria and promotes the "good" bacteria; and the postbiotic fuels the cells that make up the gut lining and support the gut barrier function.

For a gummy option, try Olly's probiotic and prebiotic which has a peach flavor. 

Sakara's probiotic contains 11 probiotic strains, digestive enzymes, systemic enzymes, and prebiotic fiber.

This formula has 16 diverse lacto and bifido strains to support digestive health, immune system health, and vaginal health.

One capsule of this Prebiotic + Probiotic delivers 15 billion bacteria spores to benefit your gut and its microbiome.

If you prefer to take your supplements in liquid form, you can try this option from MaryRuth's. The formula contains 12 probiotic strains, plus water and organic alfalfa grass.

Not only does this supplement have prebiotic and probiotic strains, but it's also formulated with whole food enzymes that help your body break down and absorb proteins and nutrients better.