Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that promote growth of beneficial microorganisms in the intestines. They can be found for example in legumes and oats.

As a vegan who does not eat sauerkraut, pickles, olives and probiotic-rich soy products on a regular basis, I was wondering whether the consumption of prebiotics can substitute the consumption of probiotics in my diet. I am asking about the substitution of the health benefits of probiotics consumption.

Are these comparable or are probiotics so special that I should focus on including them in my diet?

  • 2
    Your question isn't about the efficacy of probiotics, but for those who need some context to your question, here's a reasonably good and balanced lay-person's summary of a few of the big meta-studies on probiotics.
    – user116
    Mar 15, 2017 at 16:55

1 Answer 1


Probiotics are live microbes, which include certain bacteria or fungi, as found in the healthy human intestine. They appear in probiotic supplements and foods, such as certain yogurts, sauerkraut, miso, etc. According to the current evidence (PubMed 2014 and 2017), the probiotic supplements (but not probiotic foods) can reduce antibiotic-associated diarrhea. I'm not aware of any other benefit of probiotics and therefore of no reason to take them.

Prebiotics include certain types of fermentable (soluble) dietary fiber, such as inulin and fructooligosaccharidres. They are found in many plant foods, especially in oats, barley, wheat, leeks, Jerusalem artichokes, chicory root, dandelion root, onions, garlic, etc. (PubMed, 2013). They can promote the growth of beneficial intestinal microbes. These microbes break them down into short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), which may be beneficial for the health of the intestinal lining, but more research is warranted.

In summary, a healthy person does not need to take probiotics and can get plenty of prebiotics from various plant foods high in soluble fiber.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.