Do prebiotics cause gas and bloating?

So, you’ve tried probiotics and perhaps you want to also boost this effect by adding prebiotics but want to understand it better and whether it is right for you?

Let’s start with an important question: Can probiotics cause gas and bloating? And if they do, why does it happen, is it temporary and do all prebiotics have this effect?


The functional mechanisms of prebiotic fibre in the gut

Whilst probiotics (especially multi strain formulas) are afforded their own spotlight in supporting and improving overall digestion and bowel function as well as a variety of gut disorders, prebiotics can share this spotlight when taken together in synergy because prebiotics provide the food source for probiotic bacteria and strengthen their benefits. However, a small minority of individuals find that prebiotic fibre, causes bloating or flatulence. This initial reaction often turns people away from prebiotics without understanding why this functional reaction is taking place. With that being said, these initial symptoms usually disappear within a few days to a couple of weeks if prebiotics are continued.

This leads us to wonder whether our microbiota needs time to adjust to the introduction of new prebiotics. Understanding how this relates to sensitive individuals needs further clarification, which brings me to a recent clinical trial investigating the mechanisms that take place in the microbiota that cause the increase, and subsequent decrease, in gas production after taking prebiotics (1).


Clinical Trial investigating intestinal gas after prebiotic consumption

The aim of this trial was to monitor how the microbiota (our gut bacteria) adapts to the introduction of prebiotics. The study found that the volume of intestinal gas increased by 37% when the prebiotic was first administered. However, after two weeks the intestinal gas production reverted back down to the pre-administration levels (1).

The results showed that the decrease in gas production was simply caused by a reduction in the production of intestinal gases by the resident bacteria living there. They concluded that the microbiota adapts and shifts to a low gas producing pathway which means less gas is produced, and a relatively minute amount is eliminated by way of flatulence as a higher proportion is metabolized (1).

This research shows regular consumption of prebiotics could actually help to regulate intestinal gas metabolism. With this in mind, prebiotics can be identified as a way forward in helping individuals who are in fact looking for ways to reduce bloating and excess gas.

This better understanding of the fundamental process of the shifting microbiota and fermentation mechanisms in the gut provide a better insight into how prebiotics work and how we should consider not avoiding them due to a temporary mild reaction. Sometimes these signs are a positive indicator that a healthy shift is taking place and sometimes we just need to give our microbiota some time to adjust and adapt to them.

Gas symptoms associated with rapid fermentation

The severity of gas production is also due to the rapid fermentation produced by specific prebiotic sources and if you have IBS, then the word fermentable may have set alarm bells ringing and you may have already avoided prebiotics like GOS and inulin among others (all which are highly fermentable and unsuitable for people with IBS following FODMAP’s).

If you refer to the FODMAP table, you may have noticed that many foods on the prebiotics list should be avoided or consumed in small amounts. This is because they are readily fermented by the gut microbes. This is good for the microbes, but if it happens rapidly, and higher up the digestive tract and you have IBS, it can cause excessive bloating, gas and abdominal pain.

Unlike other prebiotic fibres, the wholefood golden kiwi fruit prebiotic ingredient contained in Gutbiome Advanced Synbiotic formula is a slow fermenting dietary fibre (pectin) that helps to reduce bloating and gas (3). It is also noteworthy to add that it has won a three crown award for best prebiotic ingredient and it is also compliant with low FODMAPs (3,4).

Golden Kiwifruit have been tested for FODMAPs by Monash University and meet the low FODMAP criteria in a serving size of two medium fruit. Importantly, they have also been tested clinically in constipation predominate IBS (IBS-C) and functional constipation patients and have shown to be well tolerated (4).
Kiwifruit pectin is soluble and has a highly complex structure (3). This complexity means that it is slowly fermented by the good bacteria in the gut, including Faecalibacterium prausnitzii which has a preference for this type of pectin. The pectin is slowly fermented throughout the length of the colon, it is broken down without excessive gas production, (which can be problematic with other prebiotic ingredients), so it is well-tolerated and is known to help to reduce bloating and discomfort (3).

It is thought that the unique combination of soluble and insoluble fibres, polyphenols and actinidin, present in kiwifruit, confers the gastrointestinal benefits, improvements in laxation and reduction of abdominal discomfort, both in individuals with either (IBS-C) and in normal healthy people suffering from constipation without reported side effects (2).

Those who experience C-IBS who have found other prebiotics to be problematic may find a better balance in managing their symptoms with golden kiwi prebiotic ingredients. It therefore makes sense to consume prebiotic sources that are slow fermenting and less disruptive to minimize gas and bloating.


Here are our key take aways:

1. Allow your gut time to adjust and refurbish: After the initial introduction of prebiotics, the microbiota adapts and shifts to a low gas producing pathway resulting in less gas and flatulence in healthy individuals.
2. Select slow fermenting prebiotics derived from wholefoods: Pectin fibre prebiotic sources such as golden kiwi fruit are slow fermenting and less disruptive to the microbiota when first introduced. This fibre is also low FODMAP compliant.


1. Mego, M. et al., 2017. Colonic gas homeostasis: Mechanisms of adaptation following HOST-G904 galactooligosaccharide use in humans. Neurogastroenterology & Motility, pp. 1-7.
2. Richardson DP, Ansell J, Drummond LN. The nutritional and health attributes of kiwifruit: a review. Eur J Nutr. 2018 Dec;57(8):2659-2676. doi: 10.1007/s00394-018-1627-z. Epub 2018 Feb 22. PMID: 29470689; PMCID: PMC6267416.
3. What is Dietary Fibre and what does it do (cited online 20Nov, 2023)
4. Zespri Kiwifruit Low FODMAP certified by Monash University now listed in our App (cited online 20Nov, 2023)

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