Is Garlic a Prebiotic?

Explore the role of garlic as a prebiotic and its potential benefits for gut health.


4/10/20242 min read

red no guts no glory neon signage
red no guts no glory neon signage

Garlic, our favorite ingredient, has long been revered for its flavor and purported health benefits. But could garlic also be considered a prebiotic, playing a role in nurturing the beneficial bacteria in our guts? In this article, we'll delve into the science behind garlic's potential as a prebiotic and its impact on gut health.

Prebiotic vs Probiotic

Before we dive into the specifics of garlic's prebiotic properties, let's take a moment to differentiate between prebiotics and probiotics. Probiotics are live microorganisms, often referred to as "good" or "friendly" bacteria, that provide health benefits when consumed in adequate amounts. These beneficial bacteria can be found in fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut as well as probiotic supplements. On the other hand, prebiotics are non-digestible fibers that serve as food for probiotics, promoting their growth and activity in the gut. Examples of prebiotic foods include garlic, onions, bananas, and chicory root.

How Garlic Acts as a Prebiotic

Garlic contains fructooligosaccharides (FOS), a type of prebiotic fiber that passes undigested through the upper digestive tract and reaches the colon, where it serves as fuel for beneficial gut bacteria like Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli. By nourishing these probiotic bacteria, garlic indirectly supports gut health.

How Much Prebiotic Content is in Garlic?

While garlic isn't as rich in prebiotic fibers as some other foods like chicory root or Jerusalem artichokes, it still contains a notable amount of FOS. Consuming garlic regularly as part of a balanced diet can contribute to your overall prebiotic intake.

Benefits of Garlic on Your Gut Health

In addition to its prebiotic properties, garlic offers numerous benefits for gut health. It has antimicrobial properties that can help combat harmful bacteria in the gut, while its anti-inflammatory effects may support a healthy gut lining and reduce the risk of digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Learn more in our article Is Garlic Good for You?


Is garlic good for your gut bacteria?

Yes, garlic contains prebiotic fibers that can promote the growth and activity of beneficial gut bacteria, supporting overall gut health.

Is onion prebiotic too?

Yes, like garlic, onions also contain prebiotic fibers, including FOS, which can nourish beneficial gut bacteria.

Can I take garlic and prebiotics together?

Yes, taking garlic and prebiotics together can potentially enhance their synergistic effects on gut health, but individual tolerance may vary.

Is cooked garlic prebiotic?

Cooking garlic may reduce its prebiotic content to some extent, but it still retains beneficial compounds that support gut health.

Is garlic powder prebiotic?

While garlic powder may contain some prebiotic fibers, it's generally less potent than fresh garlic. Opt for fresh garlic whenever possible to maximize prebiotic intake.