Prebiotics are substrates (a chemical material that another material can act upon to induce a change), carbohydrates and non-carbohydrates, often dietary or plant fibers that help feed the friendly bacteria in your gut. WHO (the World Health Organization) experts described prebiotics as nonviable food components that confer a health benefit on the host associated with modulation of the microbiota. Prebiotics are resistant to the acidic pH of the stomach, are fermented by intestinal microorganisms, cannot be absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract, and stimulate the growth or the activity of the indigenous bacteria, which are associated with health and well-being. Prebiotics have enormous potential for modifying the gut microbiota, but these modifications occur at the level of individual strains and species. Predicting which strain or species is modified is not easy.
In cosmetic formulations, prebiotics can be applied to the skin microbiota directly and increase selectively the activity and growth of beneficial ‘normal’ skin microbiota¹, which maintains healthy and beautiful skin.
Examples of prebiotics include inulin. Inulin is the starchy substance found in various fruits, vegetables, and herbs, like bananas, onions, and wheat.
Benefits of Prebiotics:
- They can help you absorb minerals such as calcium
- Prebiotics can change the rate that food is processed and therefore modulate the spikes in blood sugar
- They keep the cells that line your gut, skin, and vagina healthy
- Studies suggest that prebiotics can reduce the development or severity of atopic dermatitis and eczema in children by mediating alterations to bacterial growth ².
- Prebiotics improve the water retention of skin and reduce superficial reddening of the skin.
¹Impact of prebiotics and probiotics on skin health. Al-Ghazzewi FH, Tester RF.Benef Microbes. 2014 Jun 1;5(2):99-107. DOI: 10.3920/BM2013.0040.PMID: 24583611
²Gibson GR, Hutkins R, Sanders ME, Prescott SL, Reimer RA, Salminen SJ, Scott K, Stanton C, Swanson KS, Cani PD, Verbeke K, Reid G. Expert consensus document: The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) consensus statement on the definition and scope of prebiotics. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2017 Aug;14(8):491-502. doi: 10.1038/nrgastro.2017.75. Epub 2017 Jun 14. PMID: 28611480.