Remember the last time you were nervous? It felt like you had “butterflies in your stomach”. Or you were afraid? Your stomach was “tied in knots”. Or someone you love cheated on you? Someone “kicked you in the gut”.
All these feelings point to the connection between your gut and your mood. Otherwise known as the gut-brain axis.
To demonstrate this gut-brain axis, researchers in France published two studies.
One study showed how supplementing with the probiotics Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum for 2 weeks reduced depression by 50%.[i]
And another trial with human volunteers using the same probiotics for 30-days experienced a 55% improvement in anxiety symptoms.[ii]
While it may seem surprising that an ordinary, everyday probiotic can have such a profound effect on mood, a ton of research in the last 5 years shows that your gut is like a “second brain”.[iii]
We are only beginning to understand the extent to which our microbiome has a direct influence on mood, anxiety, energy levels, bones, weight control, and immune system.
But one thing is crystal clear – a healthy gut is critical to overall health and wellbeing.
You can choose a probiotic with exactly the right bacteria including the Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus strains your body needs.
Or feed the native Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus already in your gut with a quality prebiotic. And support the built-in intelligence your microbiome has had from the beginning.
My goal with this review is to help you understand what a prebiotic is, how it works, and why you may want to consider adding it to your daily supplement stack.
And I’ll share what I believe to be the best prebiotic supplement on the market. The prebiotic I use every day is called Performance Lab® Prebiotic.
My Prebiotic Supplement Criteria
Any good naturopathic doctor will tell you that if your diet is right, taking a prebiotic supplement is not necessary. Because we should be getting enough soluble fiber from our food.
But eating enough fiber every day is not doable for most of us. So we turn to supplements …
Most prebiotic supplements are made from grains like oats and corn. Because whole grains contain soluble fiber which is what a prebiotic is.
But if you are health conscious like me and want to avoid grains – especially GMO cereals, bread, and pasta. And want to limit your gluten and starch consumption …
… then you need to get your prebiotic soluble fiber from fruits and vegetables.
So if you eat a lot of organic asparagus, leeks, artichokes, garlic, carrots onions, and beans then you don’t need a prebiotic supplement.
But if you can’t eat enough organic vegetables, then your other option is soluble fiber from organic fruits.
A lot of fruit.
According to the Dietary Guidelines issued by the USDA, adults should eat a minimum of 25 grams of soluble fiber per day. The Institute of Medicine recommends 25 grams of fiber per day for women, and 30 – 38 grams per day for men.
So to get enough soluble fiber from your diet, you would need to eat 5 large organic apples every day to get 25 grams of fiber. Or 80 baby organic carrots. Or 5 ½ large oranges per day. Or 3 ½ cups of shredded coconut.
See where I’m going with this?
Most of us have very little chance of getting enough soluble fiber from food every day to keep our microbiome healthy.
So you need a prebiotic supplement to feed and increase the levels of healthy bacteria like bifidobacteria in your gut. And keep your microbiome at optimal levels to stay healthy.
The first thing I look for is a 100% natural prebiotic supplement. And not something that’s artificially synthesized.
My second criteria is to make sure it’s safe to use every day. And not made by some shady chemical manufacturer selling low quality or even dangerous products.
And my final criteria is a high quality brand. A company that I can trust with a proven reputation and history of satisfied customers.
Discovering Performance Lab®
I have been using a probiotic every day for years to keep my microbiome healthy. And I do feel better using it. When I stop or forget to get another bottle, my memory and mood suffer. And overall, I don’t feel well.
But the thing is I never know for sure if the probiotic I am using really has the “guaranteed” 30 Billion organisms it says on the label.
What bacteria am I low on anyway? How do I know what needs increasing and what doesn’t?
Then I discovered a new supplement line created and produced by the same company who makes my favorite nootropic supplement stack – Mind Lab Pro.
And this new supplement line included a ‘prebiotic’. Not a probiotic like I’ve been using. But a prebiotic that I discovered would help increase and maintain a healthy microbiome in my gut. Even if I wasn’t using a probiotic supplement.
Who Makes Performance Lab?
Opti Nutra is based in the U.K. and manufactures all their supplements in the USA.
Performance Lab® Whole-Food Multi is the foundation of their new supplement line.
Performance Lab Prebiotic extends the benefits of their Whole-Food Multi to enhance and maintain a healthy gut microbiome.
This Prebiotic helps increase gut levels of bifidobacteria. And studies show that elevated levels of bifidobacteria are a marker for healthy microbiome composition.[iv]
Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus are live bacteria that naturally grow in your lower gastrointestinal tract (i.e. large intestine). And prebiotics are food for these friendly bacteria.
These live bacteria are also known as ‘probiotics’. The neurohacking and professional psychiatric communities consider these organisms “Psychobiotics”. Because of their connection to brain health and the gut-brain axis.[v]
Using Performance Lab Prebiotic to increase your daily intake of soluble fiber helps support brain and heart health, blood sugar balance and weight control.
Prebiotic helps increase serotonin naturally leading to better mood. It promotes “satiety” so you may cut down on your food intake and lose weight.
Performance Lab Prebiotic helps digestion, so you’ll feel better. And have a more blissful experience in the bathroom.
And Prebiotic helps strengthen the lining of your intestinal wall to keep out the bad stuff. Boosting your immune system and helping avoid illness.
Performance Lab® Prebiotic Ingredients
Inulin-FOS (FructoOligoSaccharides) 2 g (as Orafti® Synergy1)
Inulin-FOS (FructoOligoSaccharides) is a soluble fiber-based prebiotic sourced from chicory root.
Inulin is a long-chain storage carbohydrate derived by water extraction from chicory root. The short-chain Oligofructose or fructose-oligosaccharide (FOS) is derived from inulin with an enzyme that also naturally exists in chicory root.
Orafti® Synergy1 is a combination of 50% long-chain and 50% short-chain inulin.
Performance Lab Prebiotic provides Inulin and FructoOligoSaccharides that passes through your system undigested to your large intestine.
Once there, Inulin and FOS are fermented in your gut by bacteria like bifidobacteria. Which leads to an increase of bifidobacteria.
This fermentation also produces short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) including acetate, propionate, and butyrate.[vi]
Psychobiotic: The Gut-Brain Axis
Psychobiotics have been defined as “live bacteria (probiotics) which, when ingested, confer mental health benefits through interactions with gut bacteria”.
Psychiatric researchers have now extended this definition to include prebiotics, which enhance the growth of gut bacteria.[vii]
Your microbiome is connected to your hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis. And your brain via the vagus nerve that runs from your gut to your brain.
Increasing levels of ‘good bacteria’ with Performance Lab Prebiotic may help curb inflammation and cortisol levels, reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, lower your response to stress, improve your memory, and reduce social anxiety.[viii]
The SCFAs in Performance Lab Prebiotic create a more acidic environment in your colon. Which helps boost calcium absorption for stronger bones.
Decreasing the pH in your colon simulates your intestinal cell lining (mucosa) to increase the absorption surface. Which enhances intracellular permeability and indirectly stimulating the production of calcium-binding proteins.[ix]
More calcium absorption results in better bone density. And less chance of developing osteoporosis.
Studies show that children supplementing with Orafti® Synergy1had significantly higher calcium absorption, and greater bone mineral density.[x]
Better Immune System
We know that a lower pH environment in our gut nourishes the innermost layer of cells (mucosa) in your gastrointestinal tract wall. The strength of this barrier is an important part of your immune system defenses.
Because it ensures only the good nutrients get through. And not the nasty stuff like viruses and bad bacteria. Otherwise known as “leaky-gut syndrome”.[xi]
Supplementing with Performance Lab Prebiotic supports beneficial bacteria in your gut (primarily bifidobacteria and lactobacilli).
Boosting fermentation of these intestinal bacteria suppresses proteolytic (protein) fermentation. Reducing potentially harmful bacteria which act as carcinogens.[xii]
The short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) acetate crosses the blood-brain barrier to signal your hypothalamus that you’ve had enough to eat.[xiii] Reducing your desire to eat more and hopefully better weight control.
Researchers analyzed 26 randomized controlled human trails on prebiotics conducted between January 2000 and September 2013. The 831 participants in these trials confirmed increased feelings of satiety (feeling full) when using chicory root fiber prebiotics.[xiv]
SCFAs also stimulate the peristaltic reflex which results in more frequent bowel movements.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has authorized the health claim that Inulin-FOS in Performance Lab Prebiotic reduces constipation. And improves bowel movement frequency without causing diarrhea.[xv]
You know how you feel after you’ve had a really good shit? Turns out that more than 90% of the serotonin synthesized in your body is made in your gut.[xvi] Serotonin is one of the “feel-good” neurotransmitters.
Performance Lab Prebiotic provides this anti-constipation benefit by boosting the neurotransmitter serotonin. Which is a key modulator for gastrointestinal function.
Nothing puts a damper on an exotic vacation more than “traveler’s diarrhea”.
One study demonstrated that using a prebiotic like Performance Lab Prebiotic can reduce the chances of developing diarrhea. And improve your sense of overall well-being while traveling.[xvii]
Irritable Bowel Syndrome
If you are dealing with a sensitive gut or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), you may want to consider trying Performance Lab Prebiotic.
Those suffering from IBS tend to avoid fruits and vegetables because the non-digestible carbohydrates (prebiotics) in these foods can cause gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, or cramping.
Studies have found that supplementing with Inulin-FOS may improve food tolerance in those with IBS.[xviii]
And the chicory root fiber in Performance Lab Prebiotic is well-tolerated by those suffering from IBS.[xix]
Performance Lab® Prebiotic Dosage
Recommended dosage of Performance Lab Prebiotic is 3 capsules with your first meal of the day. And another 3 capsules during your second meal.
Each 3-capsule dose provides 2 grams of soluble fiber. Research shows that 2.5 – 5 grams of Inulin-FOS per day can help maintain healthy bifidobacteria levels in adults.[xx]
How Performance Lab® Prebiotic Works in Real Life
The first thing you notice when supplementing with Performance Lab Prebiotic is regular stools that don’t smell nearly as bad. And are firmer even if you’ve had loose stools in the past.
If you’re dealing with constipation, particularly from using opiates for pain, you should be regular again.
Neurohackers who suffer from allergies report fewer symptoms.
Some report less brain fog, more energy, and clearer thinking.
Sugar cravings diminish, and if used every day, you may find it easier to control your weight.
Some with IBS report less discomfort. Especially after a meal.
Performance Lab® Prebiotic is Good Value
If you are currently using a quality probiotic, you may find you only need one 3-capsule dose in the morning of Performance Lab Prebiotic to get results.
All prebiotics are fiber, but not all fiber is prebiotic. So you can’t expect just any type of dietary fiber to increase gut microbiota.
Performance Lab Prebiotic uses Orafti® Synergy1 which is a combination of 50% long-chain and 50% short-chain inulin.
Clinical studies show that this type of FructoOligoSaccharides improves intestinal flora, relieves constipation, improves blood lipids, and suppresses the production of bad intestinal bacteria.[xxi]
You may find a couple supplement manufacturers who sell a prebiotic containing “Inulin” or even FOS. But it’s unlikely you’ll find one using chicory root-derived Orafti® Synergy1.
A bottle of Performance Lab Prebiotic is only $35.
Pros & Cons of Performance Lab® Prebiotic
The concept of ‘prebiotics’ was first introduced by Gibson and Roberfroid in 1995.[xxii] More than 2,000 research articles and studies have been published since.
Here are what I think are the pros and cons of this premium prebiotic supplement.
There are only three proven prebiotics worldwide; chicory root fiber, galacto-oligosaccharide (GOS) and lactulose.
Performance Lab Prebiotic uses chicory root fiber extract (Orafti® Synergy1) which is the only prebiotic supplement that is:
- Non-digestible in the small intestine
- Fully fermentable in the large intestine
- A plant-based dietary fiber (not synthetic), vegan-friendly
- Extensively researched (20 years including human clinical studies)
- Hot water extraction (no chemicals)
- Only added ingredient is NuFlow® rice concentrate
- Vegan-friendly PlantCaps® capsules
- Tested prior to encapsulation for allergens, GMOs, microbes, pesticides, herbicides, heavy metals, and other contaminants
- Tested again to confirm potency, purity, and activity after encapsulation
- Ships in recyclable cardboard security boxes filled with biodegradable packing peanuts
- Competitively priced
- Empty bottle, money-back guarantee (less shipping)
- 24/7 customer support
- Causes gas
- Only available on their website
- Causes gas
You may have noticed both a pro and a con for “causes gas”. You may not like to pass gas but when using Performance Lab Prebiotic, you’ll know that it’s working. Because of the natural fermentation process in your gut. And surprisingly enough the gas doesn’t smell anything close to what you’d expect.
I mentioned earlier that I’ve been faithfully using a quality probiotic for years.
But I’ve experienced a more noticeable difference from the very first day of using Performance Lab Prebiotic than any other supplement I’ve tried.
Compared to every other prebiotic on the market that uses Acacia fiber, Jerusalem Artichoke fiber, green banana fiber, and other saccharides. Or “proprietary blends” of exotic fruits.
Performance Lab Prebiotic is the only one I could find that uses chicory root extract. With 20 years of clinical studies backing up it’s benefits with real people like you and me.
Nootropics Expert Recommendation
Pricing of Performance Lab Prebiotic is competitive compared to using a daily probiotic. Or all the organic fruits and vegetables you’d need to eat daily to get this amount of soluble fiber in your diet.
You can use this prebiotic on its own to boost the beneficial flora in your gut. Or combine it with your favorite probiotic for even a more profound gut health effect.
The biggest advantage with Performance Lab Prebiotic is a more pleasant daily bathroom experience. I call it ‘bathroom bliss’.
But the long-term benefits of using this prebiotic include support for bone health, better mood, less pain, and fewer sick days.
Make sure you drop a bottle in your bag when traveling and avoid problems with the local food and water.
Opti Nutra only offers their Performance Lab® products including their Prebiotic on their website. You will not find it on Amazon or other online or brick-and-mortar retailer.
The company goes the extra mile by using top-notch ingredients like Orafti® Synergy1.
The company uses vegan PlantCaps® for capsules to ensure quick absorption. And testing before and after encapsulation of each batch of product.
And Opti Nutra offers a risk-free, “empty bottle”, money-back guarantee if you are not happy with any of their products.
So if you’d like try Performance Lab Prebiotic, or learn about this exceptional line of supplements, please go to their website for more: www.PerformanceLab.com
[i] Messaoudi M., Lalonde R., Violle N., et al. “Assessment of psychotropic-like properties of a probiotic formulation (Lactobacillus helveticus R0052 and Bifidobacterium longum R0175) in rats and human subjects.” British Journal of Nutrition. 2011;105(5):755-64. (source)
[ii] Messaoudi M., Violle N., Bisson J.F., et al. “Beneficial psychological effects of a probiotic formulation (Lactobacillus helveticus R0052 and Bifidobacterium longum R0175) in healthy human volunteers.” Gut Microbes. 2011;2(4):256-61. (source)
[vi] Boets E., Deroover L., Houben E., Vermeulen K., Gomand S.V., Delcour J.A., Verbeke K. “Quantification of in Vivo Colonic Short Chain Fatty Acid Production from Inulin.” Nutrients 2015 Oct 28;7(11):8916-29 (source)
[ix] Abrams S.A., Hawthorne K.M., Aliu O., Hicks P.D., Chen Z., Griffin I.J. “An inulin-type fructan enhances calcium absorption primarily via an effect on colonic absorption in humans.” Journal of Nutrition 2007 Oct;137(10):2208-12. (source)
[x] Abrams S.A., Griffin I.J., Hawthorne K.M., Liang L., Gunn S.K., Darlington G., Ellis K.J. “A combination of prebiotic short- and long-chain inulin-type fructans enhances calcium absorption and bone mineralization in young adolescents.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2005 Aug;82(2):471-6. (source)
[xi] Márquez M., Fernández Gutiérrez del Álamo C., Girón-González J.A. “Gut epithelial barrier dysfunction in human immunodeficiency virus-hepatitis C virus coinfected patients: Influence on innate and acquired immunity.” World Journal of Gastroenterology. 2016 Jan 28;22(4):1433-48 (source)
[xiv] Kellow N.J., Coughlan M.T., Reid C.M. “Metabolic benefits of dietary prebiotics in human subjects: a systematic review of randomised controlled trials.” British Journal of Nutrition 2014 Apr 14;111(7):1147-61. (source)
[xv] EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergens (2015) “Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of a health claim related to “native chicory inulin” and maintenance of normal defecation by increasing stool frequency pursuant to Article 13.5 of Regulation (EC) No 1924/20061.” EFSA Journal 13 (1) 3951. (source)
[xviii] Hunter J.O., Tuffnell Q., Lee A.J. “Controlled Trial of Oligofructose in the Management of Irritable Bowel Syndrome” The Journal of Nutrition Volume 129, Issue 7, 1 July 1999, Pages 1451S–1453S (source)
[xix] Olesen M., Gudmand-Hoyer E. “Efficacy, safety, and tolerability of fructooligosaccharides in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2000 Dec;72(6):1570-5. (source)