News from the AGA

Tell your patients these four things about prebiotics


Stephen R. Lindemann, PhD, assistant professor of food science and nutrition science, Purdue University, shares four talking points to use when your patients ask about prebiotics.

Explaining prebiotics:

  • • Prebiotics serve as food for specific microbes in the gut but their health benefits are likely due to broader changes in the function of communities of microbes.
  • • Prebiotics can lead to a durable change in overall function of a gut microbial community with potential for long-term health benefit while probiotics are live microorganisms that when administered in adequate amounts can confer a health benefit even in the short term.
  • • Prebiotics ferment to short-chain fatty acids known to positively influence human metabolism and immunity. Commercial prebiotics may be beneficial in some individuals but intolerable in others.
  • • Further research is needed to determine the specificity of prebiotics in terms of their biological effects. Other dietary fibers/proteins may have similar health benefits that have not yet been determined.

These tips are from “Prebiotics 101,” the first of a four-part CME series in AGA University,, titled, “The Microbiome and Digestive Health: A Look at Prebiotics.” Part two, “Diet vs. Prebiotics” is also available.

Looking for more information on prebiotics?

AGA has educational materials for patients on probiotics (also available in Spanish) at

Next Article: