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Prebiotics: Our Top 4 Picks and Their Health Benefits

Last updated: January-24,2023

The 4 Top Prebiotics & Their Amazing Health Benefits

Prebiotics are a form of nutritive fiber from various natural sources. They nourish and promote the growth of the desirable, probiotic bacteria in the intestines. There are several prebiotics currently in use, which are often combined in supplements together with probiotics. In addition, prebiotics are increasingly being used as stand-alone supplements, which makes sense given that they are trending in the dietary supplement industry. Following is an overview of four of the top prebiotics and the benefits they offer.

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Top Prebiotics Infographic

Best Prebiotics You Can Take:


What is Isomaltooligosaccharide?

Isomaltooligosaccharide (IMO) is a mixture of short-chain carbohydrates with digestion-resistant properties. Found naturally in some foods, Isomaltooligosaccharides are also manufactured commercially.

Benefits of Isomaltooligosaccharides

  • Isomaltooligosaccharide (IMO) has been shown to effectively increase numbers of Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli probiotics in the gut,[i] [ii] by as much as 12-fold.[iii]
  • In a research study conducted on rats and mice, Isomaltooligosaccharide helped suppress the growth of undesirable Clostridium bacteria.[iv] [v]
  • In a research study [vi] conducted on older men, Isomaltooligosaccharide was effective in relieving constipation.
  • Unlike some other prebiotics, Isomaltooligosaccharide is digested in the small intestine as well as in the large intestine (colon), [vii] suggesting it can “feed” probiotics throughout the intestinal tract.
  • Research has shown that Isomaltooligosaccharide can increase probiotic numbers fairly quickly—in as little as 12 days.[viii]

Acacia Gum

What is Acacia Gum?

Acacia gum (also known as gum arabic, arabic gum, gum acacia, acacia, Senegal gum and Indian gum[ix]), is derived from the hardened sap of acacia tree species. It is a complex mixture of glycoproteins and polysaccharides.

Benefits of Acacia Gum

  • Research [x] has shown that supplementation with acacia gum increased Bifidobacteria levels by 7 times. In addition, there was a slight reduction in the number of subjects with higher counts of Clostridium perfringens, in those supplementing with acacia gum.
  • Multiple studies have demonstrated that acacia gum acts as a prebiotic, increasing the growth of desirable probiotic bacteria.[xi][xii][xiii][xiv][xv]Furthermore, it should be noted that, after a few days, no acacia gum is found in rat or human feces, meaning that acacia gum is totally broken down by colonic bacteria in the gut, and then fermented.[xvi] As it turns out, this probiotic function of acacia gum has a positive role to play regarding gut barrier function.
  • Research has demonstrated that acacia gum helped restore gut impermeability at a cellular level.[xviii] [xviii] [xix]


What are Xylooligosaccharides?

Xylooligosaccharides (XOS), polymers of the sugar xylose, are prebiotics known to have several health benefits.

Benefits of Xylooligosaccharides

  • The prebiotic, xylooligosaccharides, selectively feed beneficial bacteria such as bifidobacteria and lactobacilli within the digestive tract and have been shown to effectively increase Bifidobacteria counts [xx]
  • Supplementation with xylooligosaccharides has been shown [xxi] to help promote healthy blood sugar and lipid levels already in a healthy range.
  • Xylooligosaccharides have been shown to [xxii] to help relieve constipation in pregnant women without adverse effects.


What are Fructooligosaccharides?

Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) are, perhaps, the most well-known of the prebiotics commonly used as an alternative for sweetener. Occurring naturally, fructooligosaccharides emerged in commerical use in response to connsumer demand for healthier and calorie-reduced foods.

Benefits of Fructooligosaccharides

  • For a long time,fructooligosaccharides have been recognized for their considerable ability to effectively increase and promote Bifidobacteria, as well as the butyrate they produce, a short-chain fatty acid which is essential to the colon cells.[xxiii] [xxiv]
  • Fructooligosaccharides play an important role in relieving constipation. [xxv]

In Conclusion

Whichever prebiotic you choose, the research clearly shows that they can help increase levels of healthy probiotic bacteria. Since the studies typically use prebiotics in gram quantities, the use of a powdered product makes sense—especially considering that prebiotics have a pleasant, mildly sweet taste.

For more information on NutraScience Labs' award-winning prebiotic and probiotic manufacturing services, call us today at 855-492-7388 to speak with one of our live representatives or you may send us your request to receive a free price quote. Our minimum order quantities on custom prebiotic and probiotic formulas start at just 1,500 bottles!


[i] Rycroft CE, Jones MR, Gibson GR, Rastall RA. A comparative in vitro evaluation of the fermentation properties of prebiotic oligosaccharides. J Appl Microbiol. 2001;91(5):878-887.

[ii] Kaneko T, Komoto T, Kikuchi H, Shiota M, Yatake T, Iino H, Tsuji K. Effects of isomaltooligosaccharides intake on defecation and intestinal environment in healthy volunteers. Nihon Kasei Gakkaishi. 1993;44(4):245-254.

[iii] Kohmoto T, Fukui F, Takaku H, Machida Y, Arai M, Mitsuoka T. Effect of isomalto-oligosaccharides on human fecal flora. Bifidobacteria Microflora. 1988;7(2):61-69.

[iv] Kaneko T, Kohmoto T, Fukui F, Akiba T, Suzuki S, Hirao A, Nakatsuru S, Kanisawa M. Acute and chronic toxicity and mutagenicity studies on isomaltooligosaccharides, and the effect on peripheral blood lymphocytes and intestinal microflora. Shokuhin Eiseigaku Zasshi. 1990;31(5):394-403.

[v] Qing, G.; Yi, Y.; Guohong, J.; Gai, C. Study on the regulative effect of isomaltooligosaccharides on human intestinal flora]. Wei Sheng Yan Jiu. 2003;32(1):54-55.

[vi] Chen HL, Lu YH, Lin JJ, Ko LY. Effects of isomalto-oligosaccharides on bowel functions and indicators of nutritional status in constipated elderly men. J Am Coll Nutr. 2001 Feb;20(1):44-9.

[vii] Kohmoto T, Fukui F, Takaku H, Mitsuoka T. Dose-response test of isomaltooligosaccharides for increasing fecal bifidobacteria. Agric Biol Chem. 1991;55(8):2157-2159.

[viii] Kaneko T, Kohmoto T, Kikuchi H, Shito M, Iino H, Mitsuoka T. Effect of isomaltooligosaccharides with different degrees of polymerization on human fecal bifidobacteria. Biosci. Biotech. Biochem. 1994;58(12):2288-2290.

[ix] EFSA Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources added to Food (ANS), et al. Re‐evaluation of acacia gum (E 414) as a food additive. EFSA Journal. 2017;15 (4):4741.

[x] Rochat F, Baumgartner M, Jann A, Rochat C, Nielsen G, Reuteler G, Ballèvre O. Synergistic effect of prebiotics on human intestinal microflora. 2001 – Ref Type: Personal Communication. In Meance S. Acacia gum (Fibregum™), a very well tolerated specific natural prebiotic having a wide range of food applications – Part 1. AgroFOOD industry hi-tech. 2004. January/February:24-28.

[xi] Wyatt GM, Bayliss CE, Holcroft JD. A change in human faecal flora in response to inclusion of gum arabic in the diet. Br J Nutr. 1986; 55:261–66.

[xii] Salyers AA, Palmer JK, Wilkins TD. Degradation of polysaccharides by intestinal bacterial enzymes. Am J Clin Nutr. 1978;31:S128-S130.

[xiii] Salyers AA, West SE, Vercellotti JR, Wilkins TD. Fermentation of mucins and plant polysaccharides by anaerobic bacteria from the human colon. Appl Environ Microbiol. 1977;34:529-33.

[xiv] Crociani F, Alessandrini A, Mucci MM, Biavati B. Degradation of complex carbohydrates by Bifidobacterium spp. Int J Food Microbiol. 1994;24:199-210. [ABSTRACT ONLY]

[xv] Michel C, Kravtchenko TP, David A, Gueneau S, Kozolowski F, Cherbut C. In vitro prebiotic effects of acacia gums onto the human intestinal microbiota depends on both botanical origin and environmental pH. Anaerobe 1998;257-66. [ABSTRACT ONLY]

[xvi] Baray S. Chapter 7: Acacia Gum. In Cho SS, Samuel P (Eds.). Fiber Ingredients: Food Applications and Health Benefits. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2009: 121-134.

[xvii] Sokol H, Pigneur B, Watterlot L, Lakhdari O, Bermúdez-Humarán LG, Gratadoux JJ, Blugeon S, Bridonneau C, Furet JP, Corthier G, Grangette C, Vasquez N, Pochart P, Trugnan G, Thomas G, Blottière HM, Doré J, Marteau P, Seksik P, Langella P., Faecalibacterium prausnitzii is an anti-inflammatory commensal bacterium identified by gut microbiota analysis of Crohn disease patients., Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Oct 28; 105(43):16731-6.

[xviii] White paper: How Fibregum™ reinforces the gut barrier at the cellular level. Nexira. May 6, 2017. Along the way, acacia gum also helps lower cholesterol levels.

[xix] Ulluwishewa D, Anderson RC, McNabb WC, Moughan PJ, Wells JM, Roy NC., Regulation of tight junction permeability by intestinal bacteria and dietary components., J Nutr. 2011 May;141(5):769-76.

[xx] Finegold SM, Li Z, Summanen PH, Downes J, Thames G, Corbett K, Dowd S, Krak M, Heber D. Xylooligosaccharide increases bifidobacteria but not lactobacilli in human gut microbiota. Food Funct. 2014 Mar;5(3):436-45.

[xxi] Sheu WH, Lee IT, Chen W, Chan YC. Effects of xylooligosaccharides in type 2 diabetes mellitus. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2008 Oct;54(5):396-401.

[xxii] Tateyama I, Hashii K, Johno I, Iino T, Hirai K, Suwa Y, Kiso Y. Effect of xylooligosaccharide intake on severe constipation in pregnant women. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo). 2005 Dec;51(6):445-8.

[xxiii] Losada MA, Olleros T. Towards a healthier diet for the colon: the influence of fructooligosaccharides and lactobacilli on intestinal health. Nutr Res 2002;22:71-84.

[xxiv] Cummings JH, Macfarlane GT, Englyst HN. Prebiotic digestion and fermentation. Am J Clin Nutr 2001;73:415S-420S.

[xxv] Chen HL, Lu YH, Lin JJ, Ko LY. Effects of fructooligosaccharide on bowel function and indicators of nutritional status in constipated elderly men. Nutr Res 2000;20:1725-33.

August 22nd, 2018

About the Author:

Gene Bruno

Gene Bruno, MS, MHS, RH(AHG) - Mr. Bruno possesses over 43 years of dietary supplement industry experience. With a Master's degree in nutrition and a second Master's degree in herbal medicine, he has a proven track record of formulating innovative, evidence-based dietary supplements. Mr. Bruno currently serves as both the Senior Director of Product Innovation at Twinlab Corporation and Professor of Nutraceutical Science at Huntington University of Health Sciences.