Best Prebiotic Supplements

In this post, you will learn about the best prebiotic supplements for leaky gut healing.  But first, it’s important to understand what prebiotics are why exactly they’re beneficial to your health. Here, Hunter, our resident exercise expert breaks it down!

Last Updated: July 11, 2019

What are Prebiotics?

You’ve almost certainly heard the term prebiotic bantered around lately.  By friends, family, co-workers, strangers in front of you in line at the grocery store, random people on TV — somebody!  Based on the context prebiotics are discussed in, you’ve also almost certainly figured out that prebiotics have something to do with digestive health.

But maybe you’re a little hazy on exactly what that something is?  If so, you’re not alone!  A recent study found that only 7% of people know exactly what prebiotics are and what they do.

And of that 7%, only a select few people actually knew what actually makes up a prebiotic supplement.

Luckily, prebiotics are actually pretty straightforward.

Basically, a prebiotic is any molecule that dramatically boosts the health of the good bacteria that live in and on your body.

What do I mean by “good bacteria“?

Though you may not be aware of it, your body is completely covered in bacteria.  Your skin, lungs, eyes, mouth, and intestines are all coated with trillions and trillions of bacteria. 

These aren’t hordes of invaders that have slipped past your immune system, though. These bacteria are supposed to be there.  

They actually have a ton of important functions necessary for keeping your body functioning optimally, such as fighting off bad bacteria and providing your cells with important molecules they can’t make on their own.  

See?  Good bacteria!

What is the Difference Between Prebiotics and Probiotics?

Wait, don’t probiotics do good stuff for your gut bacteria?  Are they the same thing, then — probiotics and prebiotics?  

It’s only one letter different, after all!  Maybe it’s just been a worldwide typo!

Nope, they are different!

But prebiotics and probiotics do both boost the health of your gut bacteria!

Prebiotics, we just saw, help feed the healthy bacteria in your digestive system, helping them grow and thrive.

Probiotics, on the other hand, provide your body with a potent shot of the living bacteria themselves, right into your digestive system, where they can grow and thrive!

Two totally different ways to make your gut bacteria healthier!  Pretty cool, right?  (Or maybe it’s just me who thinks that’s cool…?)

For those of you after some more information about probiotics, I strongly recommend you check out this article: What are Probiotics?  Benefits, Dangers and Best Sources

What Molecules Act as Prebiotics?

Foods rich in prebiotics

While it is highly likely that many types of molecules will one day prove to be prebiotics, as of right now there is limited research in the area.  In fact, there is only real evidence supporting the prebiotic functions of one class of molecules — dietary fibers.  

Fiber molecules are large complexes of interlinked sugar molecules.  They are found in plant-based foods and have been shown to directly boost the health and function of the bacteria found in your digestive tract.

Your body cannot digest dietary fiber. So, when you eat plant-foods, the fiber travels completely intact through your stomach and into your gut.  

Once there, it is broken down by your good gut bacteria for food and fuel.  Naturally, this helps these incredible little bacteria grow and thrive!  And, voila!  They classify as prebiotics!

Related: Best Leaky Gut Supplements For Leaky Gut Treatment

What are the Different Types of Prebiotics?

There are a number of different types of dietary fiber that have been shown to have a prebiotic effect in the body.  

These fibers come from different prebiotic foods and each interacts with the body in a slightly different manner. 

These dietary fibers are:

  • inulin
  • psyllium husk
  • wheat dextrin
  • fructooligosaccharides (FOS)
  • galactooligosaccharides (GOS)

Inulin

Inulin is a unique type of prebiotic fiber found in plants.  Inulin is made up of long, complex chains of the simple sugar fructose. 

Inulin is found naturally in many of the foods you eat.  Some of the best food sources of inulin include:

  • chicory root
  • artichokes
  • agave
  • asparagus
  • bananas
  • garlic
  • wild yams

Psyllium Husk

Psyllium is a very specific type of fiber that the Plantago ovata (also called ispaghula) plant uses to build the shell for its seeds.  

While psyllium husk is most well known for being an effective laxative, there is recent research to suggest that this non-digestible fiber also acts as a potent prebiotic in the digestive system.

Wheat Dextrin

Dextrin is a type of hydrolyzed starch that can be made from numerous starch fibers including:

  • potato
  • corn
  • tapioca
  • rice
  • arrowroot
  • wheat  

Wheat dextrin is, obviously, made from wheat starch!

Wheat dextrin is widely used throughout the food industry as a food thickener.  And now there is a growing amount of research showing that it also has potent prebiotic effects!

Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS)

Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) are a group of non-digestible, soluble fibers made up of short chains of fructose molecules, very similar to inulin. 

FOS occur naturally in a number of foods.  Some of the best food sources of FOS include:

  • garlic
  • onion
  • leeks
  • Jerusalem artichokes
  • asparagus
  • bananas

Galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS)

Galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) are soluble fibers made up of the simple sugars galactose, lactose, and glucose. 

GOS are actually really close in structure to the fiber found naturally in human breast milk that is thought to act as a prebiotic for newborn babies

But this is one of the only places you can find these types of fibers in nature!  There aren’t really found in any foods besides breast milk. 

If you see them in a prebiotic supplement or on a food label, you can be pretty sure they were synthesized in a lab to be added in.

Why Use Prebiotics for Leaky Gut Healing?

Eating Apple

Prebiotics are useful in leaky gut healing because they help address one of its key underlying causes, a condition called dysbiosis.  Dysbiosis occurs when there is an imbalance between the different species of bacteria in your digestive tract.

In a healthy gut, good gut bacteria produce adequate amounts of molecules that help the cells of your intestine seal themselves together into a perfect, seamless wall.

If you develop dysbiosis, however, your good gut bacteria are less able to make these wall-strengthening molecules.  Your intestinal cells can begin losing their strong bonds to one another. This results in the characteristic holes in the intestinal wall seen in a leaky gut.

These holes allow toxins to enter your body where they can cause damage and trigger inflammation, leading to the common leaky gut symptoms, such as:

  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • mood swings
  • depression
  • weight gain
  • high blood sugar and
  • acne

By reversing the underlying dysbiosis (by giving your good gut bacteria a leg up), prebiotics can provide your intestinal cells with enough seal-supporting molecules again.  They can start re-forming their tight bonds with one another, closing up the holes in your intestinal wall, and healing your leaky gut!

Read Next: Prebiotics for Kids: An Expert’s Guide for Moms

What is the Best Dosage for Prebiotics?

Just quickly, before I get into my top prebiotics supplements, it’s important to touch on dosing.

There is quite a bit of question around what dosage of probiotics produce the best results, still. 

It appears that a minimum dosage of 500 mg per day is needed to actually boost the health of your gut bacteria enough for you to see health benefits.  But more is not simply better since studies suggest that doses over 20 grams per day can cause side effects.

So, it appears that a dose between 1 and 10 grams per day is your best bet for getting all the prebiotic benefits your after with the lowest risk of side effects.

All of my recommended products then, naturally, offer a dose directly in this range!  But these are also good numbers to keep in mind if you hit the market to do some digging for yourself!

Top 5 Best Prebiotic Supplements

Disclosure – This post contains affiliate links.  Click here for details.

Though you can load up on a prebiotic fiber by simply adding lots of whole plant-foods to your plate, that isn’t always practical.  This because the sheer volume of food you might need to eat to see significant improvements in your leaky gut would be huge!

So, to give yourself a hand in getting enough, it can be useful to add a fiber supplement to your daily routine.

There are tons of supplements on the market though and it definitely matters which one you take!

Not all supplements contain the actual, proven prebiotic fibers we discussed above. And not all those that have the right kinds of fibers have high enough doses to make a difference in your gut health. 

Then, take into consideration all the practical considerations involved in choosing a good supplement for your routine (palatability, number of doses needed per day, ease of adding the supplement into your daily schedule, price) and you have a serious puzzle on your hands!  

To take the guesswork out of choosing a good prebiotic, I went through the products on the market and ranked them by:

  • type of prebiotic
  • prebiotic form
  • prebiotic dose
  • affordability
  • customer satisfaction (which checks of practicality and taste pretty well) 

Here, I’m sharing the 5 prebiotic supplements that, when all the numbers were shaken out, came out on top. 

5. Puritan’s Pride Psyllium Husk Capsules

Rounding out my top 5 list is Puritan’s Pride Psyllium Husk CapsulesThese capsules contain pure psyllium husk, a scientifically proven prebiotic.  

If you adhere to a vegan diet for ethical reasons, you should be aware that these capsules do contain gelatin.

Puritan's Pride Psyllium Husk Capsules

Amazon ButtonEach Puritan’s Pride capsule contains 500 milligrams of fiber, just at the lower limit for an effective dose.  A serving is listed as 2 capsules, however, which provides an entire gram. 

Though this is somewhat less than the other four brands on my list, it still falls within the safe and effective dosage range.  

Per gram, this supplement is slightly more expensive than the supplements containing fiber in powdered form.  This is due to the fact that capsules require more demanding production processes than powder, increasing production cost.

Despite this, the capsule form does provide some significant benefits, including:

  • being easier to take
  • being more practical for everyday use
  • requiring no measurements to get the right dosage 
  • being easier to store

These positives might outweigh the increase in price per gram for you.

Puritan’s Pride Psyllium Husk also has strong reviews.  On Amazon, it has 86% 5-star ratings and on the company’s website, 75% of reviews give a 5-star rating.  

Customers report the capsules being highly effective at improving digestive problems, including constipation, gas, and bloating.

Puritan’s Pride Psyllium Husk Capsules

Dosage

Supplement Form

Prebiotic Type

Supporting Research

Prebiotic Benefits

2 capsules per serving, 2 times per day (2 grams per day total)

Capsule Form

Psyllium Husk

Kellen, 2017, Pal, 2012, Mehmood, 2011

Lowers blood glucose, insulin secretion, cholesterol, and blood pressure, and treats constipation

What are the side effects of taking Puritan’s Pride Psyllium Husk Capsules?

Like other psyllium husk supplements, this great product by Puritan’s Pride is likely to be well-tolerated.  Although, psyllium husk does speed up digestion and can result in some side effects.  These side effects usually clear up after the first week or two of supplementation and they can include:

  • diarrhea
  • abdominal cramping
  • digestive discomfort

4. NOW Psyllium Husk Capsules

Next on my list are NOW Psyllium Husk Capsules!  

As their name suggests, like the Puritan’s Pride capsules, these capsules contain pure psyllium husk.  These vegetarian and vegan-friendly capsules contain 500 milligrams of psyllium husk, with each serving (three capsules) providing 1.5 grams of prebiotic.

NOW Psyllium Husk Capsules

Amazon ButtonWhile this is about half of that provided by the three brands that top my list, it is still well above the minimum dosage needed for efficacy.  It is also, naturally, still well below the safety limit.

As with Puritan’s Pride capsules, NOW Psyllium Husk capsules are on the higher end of the price scale.    

NOW Psyllium Husk Capsules have high customer satisfaction, with 70% of over 1,700 reviews giving the product a 5-star rating on Amazon.  Users reported significant improvements in their digestive symptoms, particularly constipation.

Of the few customers who gave the product less than 3-stars, many reported the capsules made no real difference.  Some suggested that the capsules may have worsened their constipation.  A few were unhappy with the number of capsules required to get the recommended daily dosage.  And, finally, a few reviews pointed out the relative costliness of the capsules compared to supplements that come in powder form.

NOW Psyllium Husk Capsules

Dosage

Supplement Form

Prebiotic Type

Supporting Research

Prebiotic Benefits

3 capsules per serving, 2 times per day (3 grams per day total)

Capsule

Psyllium Husk

Kellen, 2017, Pal, 2012, Mehmood, 2011.

Lowers blood glucose, insulin secretion, cholesterol, and blood pressure, and treats constipation

What are the side effects of taking NOW Psyllium Husk Capsules?

NOW Psyllium Husk capsules are extremely safe.  These supplements may speed up digestion, though, so they can result in some digestive side effects.  These can include:

  • diarrhea
  • abdominal cramping
  • digestive discomfort

These side effects typically lessen after the first week of supplementation.

3. Benefiber

Rounding out my top 3 fiber supplements is Benefiber.  

Benefiber contains 100% wheat dextrin as a dissolvable powder to mix into liquids and solid foods.  Each serving (2 teaspoons) provides 3 grams of prebiotic fiber, making its dosage safe and effective.  

Benefiber Fiber Supplement

Amazon ButtonAs a brand name product, Benefiber is slightly pricier than some of the other products on this list.

For many people, however, this increase in price is justified.  Customers do report being more satisfied with Benefiber than off-brand products.  In fact, 79% of the Amazon reviews of Benefiber gave the product 5-stars.  

Nearly all the consumers who gave Benefiber a high-rating reported the supplement is easy to use, tasteless, and extremely effective at improving digestive problems.

Those few consumers who gave Benefiber less than 3-stars generally reported that it either didn’t work for them personally or complained that the product was too expensive. 

Benefiber contains gluten and is not a good choice for you if you are sensitive to wheat or have celiac disease.

Benefiber

Dosage

Supplement Form

Prebiotic Type

Supporting Research

Prebiotic Benefits

3 grams per serving, 2 times per day (6 grams per day total)

Powder Form

Wheat Dextrin

D’Hoe, 2018, Slaven, 2009

Enhances microbiota health, regulates digestion, stabilizes blood sugar, and prevents cardiovascular disease

What are the side effects of taking Benefiber?

The side effects associated with Benefiber, when they occur, are gastrointestinal in nature and include:

  • bloating
  • constipation
  • digestive discomfort

If you experience any of these after supplementing with Benefiber, I strongly recommend you switch to a different prebiotic product.

2. Kirkland Signature Optifiber

Coming in second on my list is the off-brand form of Benefiber: Optifiber

Optifiber is, of course, built around pure wheat dextrin like Benefiber.  It also comes as a fine white powder that you can dissolve completely in any liquid or soft foods.

Kirkland Signature OptifiberAmazon Button

Just like Benefiber, each serving of Optifiber provides 3 g of wheat dextrin, which again sits well above the 500 mg minimum.  The recommended 3 servings per day provide you with a total intake of 9 g, which is safely under the maximum recommended dosage.   

This product has the most affordable price-per-serving of all the supplements on my list.

This product is also very popular among customers, with the vast majority (90%) of customers who bought Optifiber on Amazon giving it a 5-star rating.  

Nearly all positive reviews stated the product works exactly as advertised.  These same consumers reported no difficulty dissolving the powder in any foods or liquids and stated that it didn’t result in any changes in taste or texture.  

Most reviewers also reported significant improvements in their digestive health.  Most directly reported relief of constipation, but many also mentioned improvements in bloating and gas, while a few reported diarrhea relief.  

Since Optifiber is contains wheat, you should not buy it if you are allergic to wheat or have celiac disease. 

Kirkland Signature Optifiber

Dosage

Supplement Form

Prebiotic Type

Supporting Research

Prebiotic Benefits

3 grams per serving, 3 times per day (9 grams per day total)

Powder Form

Wheat Dextrin

D’Hoe, 2018, Slaven, 2009

Enhances microbiota health, regulates digestion, stabilizes blood sugar, and prevents cardiovascular disease

What are the side effects of taking Kirkland Signature Optifiber?

Although wheat dextrin is generally well-tolerated, its consumption can result in some side effects.  These can include:

  • bloating
  • constipation
  • digestive discomfort

If you experience any of these after supplementing with Optifiber, I strongly recommend you cease consumption and switch to a supplement that contains a different type of prebiotic fiber.

1. MicroIngredients Organic Inulin Powder

And, finally, topping my list of the best prebiotic supplements is MicroIngredients Organic Inulin Powder! 

Inulin, as I mentioned above, is an effective prebiotic, and MicroIngredients provides it in the form of a fine powder.  This makes it perfect to dissolve in liquids and soft foods, like oatmeal. MicroIngredients Organic Inulin PowderAmazon ButtonAs a bonus, this brand also organic, vegan, and gluten- and GMO-free.

Each package of MicroIngredients Organic Inulin Powder contains 2 pounds of inulin, which works out to around 385 servings.  Each serving provides 2.3 grams of prebiotic fiber, which is well above the minimum 500 mg dose for effective fiber supplementation.

The total daily dose recommended on the packaging provides you with 6.9 g of fiber per day, which is also well below the 20 g upper safety limit.

This great option is also one of the most budget-friendly products on my list, coming in second to only Optifiber.

This product has very high customer satisfaction, with many users reporting to be extremely satisfied with this product.

Just 80% of consumers gave MicroIngredients Inulin Powder a 5-star rating on Amazon.  Nearly all said the product performed exactly as advertised.  It dissolved easily into any food and beverage and improved leaky-gut associated digestive problems, like constipation, gas, and bloating.  Additionally, people praised the practicality of a supplement that can simply be mixed into everyday foods!

Those few customers that gave MicroIngredients Organic Inulin Powder fewer than 3-stars primarily reported they saw no improvements in their digestion.  A select few of these also reported side effects, such as gas and bloating.

The only potential downside of this particular product is that it is not tasteless like some of its competitors.  While many customers reported that they enjoyed the slightly sweet flavor the inulin provided, it may not be the case for everyone.  

It may also limit the types of foods and drinks you would add the supplement to, as the sweetness might not fit all that well in savory dishes.

MicroIngredients Organic Inulin Powder

Dosage

Supplement Form

Prebiotic Type

Supporting Research

Prebiotic Benefits

2.3 grams per serving, 3 times per day (6.9 grams per day total)

Powder Form

Inulin

Kelly, 2009

Helps fight colon cancer and IBS, boosts immunity, and improves blood cholesterol

What are the side effects of taking MicroIngredients Organic Inulin Powder?

While inulin is for the most part very well-tolerated, it can have some side effects.  These are typically gastrointestinal in nature, and can include:

  • bloating
  • abdominal cramping
  • loose stools
  • gas
  • more frequent bowel movements

These side effects are much less likely at lower doses.

Bonus Supplement: BeLive Prebiotic Fiber Gummies

Okay, I know I am cheating here!  I promised you the 5 best prebiotic supplements on the market.  And I was true to my word.  But I just can’t help mentioning the runner up for the list.  These supplements are just too cool — and tasty!Amazon Button

BeLive Prebiotic Fiber Gummies are chewable, apple-flavored candy fiber supplements.  They offer all the effectiveness of a prebiotic capsule, with each gummy containing 5.8 g of inulin.  But they are in a bouncy, chewy, inner-child (or actual child) friendly form!

Based on the Amazon reviews, the fun and effectiveness isn’t just label-deep.  Customers really enjoy taking them and report all the benefits of other, more “standard” prebiotic forms.  This has earned them a 73% 5-star rating!

And the most common negative review?  People who didn’t like the flavor. 

Child-like chewy fun.  Effective probiotic.  Only the tiniest chance you won’t like the flavor.  Definitely needed a mention!

BeLive Prebiotic Fiber Gummies

Dosage

Supplement Form

Prebiotic Type

Supporting Research

Prebiotic Benefits

5.8 grams per serving, once per day

Gummy Form

Inulin

Kelly, 2009

Helps fight colon cancer and IBS, boosts immunity, and improves blood cholesterol

What are the side effects of taking BeLive Prebiotic Fiber Gummies?

As already mentioned, inulin tends to be very well-tolerated, although it can have some side effects.  These include:

  • bloating
  • abdominal cramping
  • loose stools
  • gas
  • more frequent bowel movements

Take Home Message

The best prebiotic supplements help boost the health of your body’s good bacteria.  Dietary fiber acts as a prebiotic for your good gut bacteria.  This makes it useful in treating dysbiosis and leaky gut symptoms! 

A prebiotic supplement can help you increase your intake of dietary fiber. Which (if any) of these products is right for you will depend on you, your lifestyle, your taste preferences and how your body responds to the product(s)! Hopefully, my list was able to point you in the right direction and will ultimately help you find the perfect supplement for you and your gut health!

Learn More About Prebiotics From an Exercise Scientist: Best Prebiotics for Weight Loss: How Fiber Can Help You Get Fit

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