What Are Prebiotics and Why Are They Just as Important as Probiotics?

When it comes to gut health, probiotic supplements and probiotic foods (think like yogurt and kombucha) are well-known antidotes to common digestive ailments. They contain live, active cultures of good bacteria to promote a healthy microbiome, help replenish bacteria after medication wipes it out, and keep our digestive system moving efficiently. Recently, another gut-booster has come on the scene as a complementary supplement with a slightly different role: prebiotics. So, what are prebiotics, and why are they just as important as probiotics?

What are Prebiotics?

Prebiotics are non-digestible fiber that passes through the small intestine without being digested and is then fermented when it reaches the large intestine or colon. Prebiotic fiber is also known as a type of sugar called an “oligosaccharide” and is found in foods like garlic, onions, asparagus, barley, leeks, and bananas. Because they aren’t broken down by digestive enzymes, the prebiotic compounds are used to feed and stimulate the beneficial bacteria in your intestines — and that your probiotics are helping to populate and maintain your gut health.

Prebiotics and Probiotics Work Best Together

Taking a probiotic supplement alone is helpful but combining it with a prebiotic or with an increased consumption of prebiotic foods boosts its power by supporting the friendly bacteria and encouraging it to grow and flourish. Without the fiber and sugars to feed on, that beneficial bacteria has a hard time thriving and combatting the less-than-friendly environment in the digestive tract.

And when you add in a collagen-rich substance, like Osso Good Bone broth, to the mix, you’re doing even more to create a healthy space for good bacteria to thrive. Complete digestive health is bigger than just your stomach; it helps improve immune function, reduces inflammation in the body, balances hormonal responses, and lowers the risk for cardiovascular disease.

An easy way to boost your prebiotic intake is by adding fiber-rich foods to your diet, like this quick Barley Risotto with Asparagus and Leeks. It comes together in under an hour and is perfect for leftovers.

Barley Risotto with Asparagus and Leeks


4 cups Osso Good Bone Broth — pick your favorite!

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 of a large onion, chopped

1 large leek, sliced thinly

1 ½ cups uncooked barley

2 cloves garlic, minced

¼ cup water

1 to 2 cups asparagus spears, cut to bite-size pieces

1 tablespoon of lemon zest

Salt and pepper to taste


In a small saucepan, heat bone broth until simmering. Keep warm.

Heat the olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Stir in leeks and onion, sautéing until softened, 3–5 minutes. Add in uncooked barley and cook until lightly toasted, about 4 minutes. Add in garlic and cook for 1 additional minute.

Stir in water, 3 cups of stock, and salt and pepper. Bring the liquid to a boil, cover and simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 25 minutes, ladle in additional warm broth in small batches as needed to maintain consistency. Stir in asparagus spears and simmer for another 10 minutes until the asparagus is warmed and softened.

Remove from heat, stir in lemon zest and additional salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy!

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