Learn More About Prebiotics

Even amongst industry insiders, there is some debate regarding the definition of a prebiotic, and the relationship between prebiotics, fiber and probiotics, as well as the agreed assessment of health benefit. It is clear however, that like probiotics not too long ago, there is consumer, practitioner and industry confusion, there is emerging science, and there is significant category growth and opportunity.

GPA defines a prebiotic as a product or ingredient that is utilized in the microbiota producing a health or performance benefit. 

And a prebiotic effect is “a health or performance benefit that arises from alteration of the composition and/or activity of the microbiota, as a direct or indirect result of the utilization of a specific and well defined product or ingredient by microorganisms”

The most common example is in the gastrointestinal tract, where prebiotics can alter the composition of organisms in the gut microbiome.

In diet, prebiotics are typically non-digestible fiber compounds that pass undigested through the upper part of the gastrointestinal tract and stimulate the growth or activity of advantageous bacteria that colonize the large bowel by acting as substrate for them.[1] They were first identified and named by Marcel Roberfroid in 1995.[1][2] As a functional food component, prebiotics, like probiotics, are conceptually intermediate between foods and drugs. Depending on the jurisdiction, they typically receive an intermediate level of regulatory scrutiny, in particular of the health claims made concerning them.

The below types are recognized by GPA as being prebiotics. Science is constantly evolving in this category and new types may be added. 

Click here to access detailed information on prebiotic types. These understandings and more are being developed and challenged as new science and products emerge into the marketplace.

Educate yourself here, and join us to support further educational efforts and events!

ISAPP, the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics, is a scientific association with an expressed mission to “advance scientific excellence in probiotics and prebiotics. ISAPP”s latest prebiotic definition reads, “a substrate that is selectively utilized by host microorganisms conferring a health benefit”.
The World Gastroenterological Organization, calling itself the Global Guardian of Digestive Health, is comprised of over 100 Member Societies – representing over 50,000 individual practitioners worldwide. A great summary and history of both prebiotics and probiotics, including an examination of the relationship between them, is offered on the WGO website.
The International Probiotic Association is the global voice for the probiotic community, every year hosting the IPA World Congress. Part of this Congress includes a workshop on prebiotics. We at GPA have a strong relationship with IPA and where possible align to support their initiatives where they are appropriate for the prebiotic community, recognizing the frequent linkage and association between pre and probiotics.
The National Center for Biotechnology Information PubMed Database comprises more than 27 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books.
Prebiotics.com is intended to educate health professionals and consumers about prebiotics and their role in human health. It’s a great one-stop for consolidated information, especially on the types of ingredients that can be considered to be prebiotic.