What Are Prebiotics?

A lot of things go into growing a rose. 

Roses need sunlight and water. They also need food—which comes in the form of fertilizer. 

Probiotics within your gut microbiome are not as beautiful as a rose. Much like a rose, however, probiotics also need food—which comes in the form of “prebiotics.” 

In short—If probiotics are a rose, prebiotics are its fertilizer.

In this article, we will answer:

  • Probiotics and prebiotics—What is the difference? 
  • What are the benefits of prebiotics?
  • Can you take prebiotics and probiotics together? 
  • What are some prebiotic foods? 
  • What is Inulin prebiotic? 
  • What are some good gut-health resources? 

Probiotics and prebiotics—What is the difference? 

Probiotics (e.g. Akkermansia muciniphila) are “good bacteria” that live within your gut microbiome. 

“Prebiotics are a type of fiber found in non-digestible foods that make their way to the large intestine where they help support a healthy gut microbiome,” says Tara Karr, MS, RD, LDN, CDCES

All prebiotics are fibers. However, not all fibers are prebiotics

Prebiotics are found in foods that contain complex carbohydrates (e.g. plant fiber and resistant starches). These complex carbohydrates aren’t digestible by your body. Therefore, they are fermented along the GI tract to become food for your gut microbiome’s beneficial bacteria and other microbes.  

There are also postbiotics, which are the byproducts (“waste products”) of the fermentation process carried out when the probiotics in your intestines eat the prebiotics fed to them.

What are the benefits of prebiotics? 

Prebiotics stimulate the growth of normal gastrointestinal flora, which in turn hinders the growth of abnormal flora and pathogens. 

Prebiotics fermented by gut bacteria produce short-chain fatty acids (e.g. butyrate), which improve gut-barrier integrity and function and modulate the glucose and lipid metabolism as well as the inflammatory response and immune system. 

In terms of a complete diet, there is no consensus on how many grams of prebiotics one needs each day. Karr adds that although you will not find it on a Nutrition Facts Label, prebiotics are still important.

“According to the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics, it is thought that ingesting somewhere in the range of 5-20 grams of prebiotics per day may be beneficial,” she says.

Karr adds that what you can find on a Nutrition Facts label is fiber. 

“Because prebiotics are a type of fiber, Pendulum's registered dietitians educate customers on how to track total fiber intake and provide individualized goals depending on each person's needs.”

Can you take prebiotics and probiotics together?  

The goal of having both probiotics and prebiotics is to increase the number of “beneficial bacteria” in your colon, which can positively impact your health.

While prebiotics increase the density of that beneficial bacteria, probiotics increase the diversity

One way to achieve this health goal is to take a “combined” probiotic and prebiotic—which is known as a “synbiotic” (e.g. Pendulum Glucose Control).
For a healthy and diverse gut microbiome, Karr suggests eating a variety of prebiotic- and probiotic-containing foods. 

“While we know certain probiotics—like Akkermansia Muciniphila—seem to thrive on chicory, other prebiotic foods—like garlic—promote the growth of beneficial Bifidobacteria,” says Karr. “I always encourage my customers to eat seasonally and choose foods they enjoy the flavor of to promote healthy gut-friendly habits that last.” 

There is currently no evidence that taking prebiotics and probiotics together is harmful.

Research on the side effects of prebiotics is also in its infancy and requires further investigation.5

What are some prebiotic foods?

Prebiotic foods contain specific types of fiber known to feed selective groups of bacteria that confer health benefits.
Inulin, which occurs naturally in high concentrations in chicory root and Jerusalem artichokes, is a fiber source that supports desirable microbes and is available in multiple prebiotic supplements. 
There are a number of prebiotic-rich foods that you can incorporate into your diet 6 7 , including:

  • Dandelion greens
  • Asparagus
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Leeks
  • Jerusalem Artichoke
  • Chicory root
  • Jicama Root
  • Barley
  • Oats
  • Cocoa
  • Burdock root
  • Flaxseeds
  • Yacon root
  • Wheat bran
  • Seaweed
  • Soybean

What is inulin prebiotic? 
Pendulum Glucose Control contains a small amount of a soluble fiber called inulin that is sourced from chicory root and is Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) as the prebiotic source,” says Karr. “The inulin is not intended to meet someone's daily requirements of prebiotics. Instead it provides the initial food source for the probiotic strains when they are released into the intestinal lumen.” 

There are in vitro studies that show that inulin is a highly preferred prebiotic source for the strains found in Pendulum Glucose Control.

“This makes it an outstanding source for the Pendulum Glucose Control synbiotic,” says Karr.

Inulin is classified as a prebiotic because of its ability to travel to the lower gut and stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria, including the bacterial strains in Pendulum Glucose Control.

In people with Type 2 diabetes, there are certain bacteria that are either lacking functionality or no longer present in the gut microbiome. As a result of these bacteria going missing, certain important gut health functions are either decreasedor gone altogether.

Pendulum Glucose Control and its 5 probiotics and inulin prebiotic contain those missing bacteria, and put them back into your gut microbiome.

The average American diet contains between 1-4 grams of inulin per day. 

In Europe, the consumption of inulin appears to be substantially higher at 3–11 grams per day.8
What are some good gut-health resources? 

If you want to learn more about healthy eating for the gut microbiome, Pendulum has resources for you.

Pendulum also has registered dietitians who provide personalized Nutrition Coaching Calls. 

Pendulum’s registered dietitians have also created several unique meal plans that include 42 meals that help you nourish your gut microbiome and manage your blood sugars. You can check out and purchase these meal plans by clicking here
With the help of a Pendulum's registered dietitian, you can learn how to nourish your gut health through nutrition and Pendulum Glucose Control—the only medical probiotic available for the management of Type 2 diabetes. 

When looking for gut-health resources, always look for credentialed, qualified sites that have registered dietitians or qualified credentialed healthcare providers providing sound, scientific advice.

For more information about Pendulum and its products, go to Pendulumlife.com.

To contact Pendulum Therapeutics go to hello@pendulumlife.com or call (844) 912-2256.

Also, be sure to follow Pendulum on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram.

Before you consider any of these gut-microbiome dietary solutions, talk to your healthcare provider. 
The FDA has not approved or evaluated these statements. Pendulum products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases.




2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/prebiotics-probiotics-and-your-health/art-20390058


4. https://www.futuremedicine.com/doi/10.2217/fmb-2017-0059

5. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323490#how-prebiotics-and-probiotics-interact


7. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/19-best-prebiotic-foods

8. https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/129/7/1412S/4722579

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