cows-milkDTMost manufacturers include prebiotics (often Fructooligosaccharide – FOS or galacto-oligosaccharides) in their probiotic supplements, claiming that the prebiotics increase the potency and effectiveness of the probiotic (good bacteria).

However, as many people with IBD or IBS have experienced, ingesting prebiotics often just leads to more gas and bloating!

Interestingly, this recent study on adding prebiotics to the fermentation process of milk (creates yoghurt) and infant formula (which already contains prebiotics) shows that in the infant formula containing prebiotics “The microorganisms were not able to increase the CLA content of the fermented products ” and “The highest CLA content was observed in fermented milk containing only Str. thermophilus and Lb. bulgaricus”.

So the only increase in conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) was  obtained by using ONLY probiotics (and no prebiotics).

Important to note is that the probiotic species used in this this study are the exact same ones in Natren’s Yogurt Starter. Here’s how to make yoghurt using this probiotic starter in any type of milk (almond, coconut, cow, goat, etc.).

Getting back to the research… In another interesting study, researchers tested adding prebiotics to 5 different probiotic species. This is an interesting study to me, because they classed not only oligofructose as a prebiotic, but also polydextrose and maltodextrin as well! Now those of you who have used Absorb Plus, or been on The IBD Remission Diet, know that Absorb Plus elemental shakes contain tapioca maltodextrin as the carbohydrate source.

Interestingly, although the other prebiotics did increase bacterial count at varying levels,  “the highest amounts of conjugated linoleic acid (38% higher than in the control) were found in milk fermented by S. thermophilus-L. acidophilus co-culture and supplemented with maltodextrin.”

Now why am I so excited about conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)?

CLA is a fatty acid that is produced as a result of fermentation in the guts of pastured ruminants, like cows, goats and sheep. Research has shown CLA to be a potent healing agent in conditions ranging from allergies and inflammation, to cancer, to osteoporosis.

So you can obtain CLA from the meat and dairy products of pasture-fed cows, goats and sheep. Or, as these studies show, you can take the milk from pasture-fed ruminants and make your own yoghurt, and get even more CLA!

And perhaps, when you are on an elemental diet, or using Absorb Plus in conjunction with probiotics – you are also benefiting from increased CLA!

Recent Research on Prebiotics and Probiotics

14 thoughts on “Recent Research on Prebiotics and Probiotics

  • This an excellent article. I never had ANY digestive issues until I ate some Breakstone Live Active Cottage cheese which had very high amounts of FOS. I had severe cramps, gas and bloating so bad I thought my intestines were going to rupture! I have had two colonoscopies and they can find nothing wrong other than a redundant colon.

    Now I can’t eat anything that has more than a gram or two of sugar without extreme amounts of bloating. The doctors including to GI specialists are clueless about treating my problem. I have never fully recovered from it.

    Natren probiotics help but are not a complete cure.

  • Love the eclectic information provided here! I’ve too been a long-time fan of CLA. The lack of increase in CLA with the addition of carbohydrate-based prebiotics is understandable when thinking about what CLA is made of – fat (not carbohydrates). The biosynthesis of CLA would stand a better chance of being increased if its precursor (primarily linoleic acid) was added in the presence of the right type of probiotics (those found in the gut of ruminants). For a very dry overview of what is needed for increased biosynthesis of CLA – you could dive right-into this page turner:

  • Do you think it would be beneficial to take a CLA supplement then? If so how much is recommended per day, and should it be taken with or without food?

  • I’ve been reading your articles since I was diagnosed with IBD in 2006 . Your content and clarity of it is truly unmatched. Great work always Jini.

  • Hi LTYG Team,

    I understand that the prebiotics Fructooligosaccharide – FOS or galacto-oligosaccharides” are not recommended on an elemental diet.

    Is there any research into these prebiotics? Amylase, Protease, Lipase, Lactase, Cellulase. Also what is the opinion on plant based pectin?

    Thanks and Regards,

  • Hi Mark, Amylase, Protease, Lipase, Lactase, Cellulase are not prebiotics, they are enzymes that help people digest their food. For example, lactase breaks down lactose, lipase helps break down fats (lipids). You should not need to take any of these on an elemental diet since all nutrients ingested are already pre-digested.

    Pectin is a polysaccharide (soluble fibre) so not allowed on the elemental diet.

    1. Thanks Jini appreciate the quick reply 🙂

      Noted re the Pectin. Are plans still on track for the 2017 launch of your AU site?

    2. Hi Jini,

      I just noted that the Sun Warrior range of flavoured protein powders contain Pectin. Wondering what the difference is, assuming this is ok on an elemental diet given its available on your site?

      Many thanks,


      1. Hi Mark, as pectin is a soluble fiber it is not normally allowed. However, the amount contained in the Sun Warrior brand is less than the amount of Xanthan gum and less even than the Stevis – which, if you’ve used Stevia at all, you know how minute the amount must be. I think the very slight negative of having it there is far outweighed by the fact that the rice is sprouted. This is always the difficulty when trying to source products – unless you can formulate it yourself, there is often some give and take. I am on track to help Imix release a Vegetarian Absorb Plus this year though. Which brings up another point I don’t think a lot of Vegans realize: When you cannot source from animals at all (even items that don’t involve killing or hurting the animal) the only option then remaining is a synthetic version of the vitamin. So when you’re trying to heal from a very serious dis-ease or imbalance, many would rather have the most healing substance, rather than something that is synthetic – as they will only be consuming it for a short period of time. Would you agree?

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