Discussion on prebiotics and probiotics seems pretty common these days.
However, have you ever thought about the difference between prebiotics and probiotics? What are they exactly? How do they benefit your health and well-being?
In this article we cover everything you’ll need to know in order to gain a basic understanding of prebiotics, probiotics, and the differences between them.
What Are Prebiotics and Probiotics?
Prebiotics are a kind of fiber that the body is unable to digest. Even though you cannot break them down, they serve their own purpose to nourish the probiotic bacteria in your gut.
Think of prebiotics as a source of food for the probiotics in your gut.
Probiotics are essentially the beneficial bacteria found in certain foods and health supplements. These bacteria thrive in the digestive tract and offer an enormous amount of health benefits.
It is common to associate bacteria with illness. However, not all bacteria is bad.
There are good bacteria and bad bacteria. The “good” or beneficial bacteria naturally live in your digestive tract and carry out important biological functions that are crucial for our everyday lives.
This is why fermented food and dairy, like probiotic yogurt or probiotics in kefir, are a favorite of anyone trying to increase their gut health.
Think of it this way. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that live in your gut and promote good health and prebiotics are the fibers that feed this beneficial bacteria.
Probiotics offer so many health benefits and it is impossible for us to live without them.
The Pros and Cons of Probiotics
Probiotics have been shown to improve digestive health and manage the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). They’ve also been shown to prevent and heal a leaky gut and could prevent the inflammation associated with it.
Probiotics can also improve gastrointestinal health and could alleviate the symptoms of any stomach or intestinal disorders.
For women, probiotics offer amazing benefits such as boosting fertility and improving vaginal flora, preventing infections. Probiotics for nursing mothers can also promote a strong immune system in breastfed infants.
Pregnant women can also decrease their risk of developing gestational diabetes by taking probiotic supplements specifically recommended by a healthcare provider.
Children may even benefit from probiotics from an improved immune system to a lower risk of allergies.
It can also improve calcium absorption that leads to stronger bones, which is why probiotics have proven so useful for seniors.
They can also improve sleep quality, boost serotonin levels, and decrease stress. While these benefits were recorded in both men and women, these effects were most prominent in men. They also improve prostate health and increase testosterone levels.
Probiotics can be added into your daily routine with the use of probiotic supplements or by adding probiotic foods to your diet.
While there are numerous reported benefits of probiotics, there is still a lack of data regarding the risks of probiotics. Inferior products may not have undergone thorough testing and often don’t declare potential allergens, making them potentially harmful.
While many people have reported that probiotics alleviated their symptoms and improved the overall health of their gut, we need more testing to be done on individual products to ensure that the market is provided with safe, effective supplements.
Probiotic supplements have to be manufactured very specifically in order to survive stomach acid, extreme temperature exposure, and deliver a sufficient variety of bacterial strains.
We advise you to speak to your doctor or primary healthcare physician if you’re thinking about taking a probiotic supplement.
The Pros and Cons of Prebiotics
Now that you have a basic understanding of probiotics, let’s jump into the element that fuels probiotics. That is prebiotics.
Just like probiotics, there are prebiotic foods that naturally contain these indigestible fibers.
One of the main reasons why you should add prebiotics to your diet is so that you’re able to feed and maintain the probiotics living in your gut. While your body isn’t able to digest prebiotic fibers, the probiotics thrive off of them.
Given that prebiotics are fuel for probiotics, they’ve been documented to have similar benefits. This includes general improvement in the health of your digestive and gastrointestinal systems, as well as alleviating any illnesses related to your gut and digestion, such as IBS and leaky gut.
Prebiotics have also been shown to aid in weight loss and weight management by increasing your metabolic levels.
However, much like with probiotics, research about the effects of prebiotics is still in its infancy. This means that there is a distinct lack of evidence regarding the long-term effects of prebiotics.
This includes both negative and positive effects.
As we’ve said before, if you’re thinking of adding prebiotic supplements to your diet we suggest you consult your doctor before doing so.
How Prebiotics and Probiotics Work Together
Without access to sufficient amounts of prebiotics, probiotic bacteria can’t effectively multiply and will begin to die out.
When working together, pre- and probiotics form “synbiotics”. Synbiotics increase the ability of beneficial bacteria to survive and thrive within the gastrointestinal tract.
This means that if you want to enjoy the benefits of probiotics, you’ll need to supplement your intake with prebiotics because one cannot live without the other. This can include food sources as well as supplements.
Prebiotics and probiotics, while different, go hand in hand.
Foods That Contain Prebiotics and Probiotics
If you’re thinking of adding prebiotics and probiotics to your diet, there are two ways to go about it. You could add prebiotic and probiotic supplements to your diet or you could eat foods that contain prebiotics and probiotics.
Here are a few foods that contain prebiotics and probiotics.
Foods That Contain Prebiotics
Prebiotics are found in numerous high-fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. What makes it easier is that some foods contain both prebiotics and probiotics.
Here is a list of foods that are high in prebiotics:
Foods That Contain Probiotics
Luckily, many foods contain naturally helpful bacteria, such as yogurt and fermented foods. Here is a list of foods that are high in probiotics:
Yogurt is a great option with live cultures of bacteria. It’s also an easy way to add probiotics to your diet.
Should You Consider a Probiotic or Prebiotic Supplement?
Which is the better option for you? Should you try a natural approach by eating foods rich in prebiotics and probiotics, or should you try supplements?
The answers to these questions aren’t a simple yes or no. Whether you decide to eat foods or take supplements depends on many factors.
Firstly, what are you able to afford? Which option best suits your lifestyle? What does your doctor recommend?
If the answer is still taking prebiotic and probiotic supplements, you’ll still need to choose a supplement that works for you.
There are a plethora of probiotic supplements on the market. There is everything from immune support probiotics to dental probiotics, such as probiotic toothpaste, capsules, and powders.
There are even probiotics to provide daily beneficial bacteria for dogs.
Some probiotic supplements also have different uses and are designed to carry the bacteria right to your gut, while others are less effective. Hyperbiotics utilizes a patented technology to give all capsules an enteric coating, allowing the live cultures to reach your gut unscathed.
We suggest you do thorough research on the supplements you’re thinking of taking and work together with your doctor to figure out what is right for you.
Prebiotics and probiotics serve similar functions however, they are distinctly different. Probiotics are the naturally occurring, healthy bacteria that live in your gut and in certain foods, while prebiotics are the fibers that feed this bacteria.
In other words, probiotics are bacteria that increase the health and well-being of your digestive system and prebiotics are what fuels the well-being of the bacteria.
Prebiotics and probiotics go hand in hand. Keeping this in mind will make it easy to distinguish between the two, so you can tell exactly what kind of supplements or dietary changes you need to suit your needs.
If you’re thinking about adding pre or probiotics to your diet, we suggest adding a combination of the two to fully experience the benefits.
Also, don’t forget to consult with your doctor.
Did you find our blog helpful? Then consider checking:
- Best Probiotics For Weight Loss
- Benefits of Probiotics for Women
- Probiotics Side Effects
- Why We Need Probiotics (and why most are ineffective)
- Here’s How Probiotics and Fish Oil Support Baby’s Immune Health
- What to Expect When You Start Taking Probiotics
- How and When to Take Probiotics for Maximum Benefits
- Probiotics and Traditional Ayurvedic Combo Could Support Longevity
- Focus on Prebiotics: Get Nutty With Walnuts!
**This blog is for information and education purposes only. This information is not intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult with your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions in regards to a medical condition. A qualified healthcare professional can best assist you in deciding whether a dietary supplement is suitable based on your individual needs.