While probiotics and prebiotics sound the same, they are very different from one another and serve different roles in our body. Both, Probiotics and prebiotics have very important roles to play in the gut.
We have tried to keep our explanations below simple to describe the two differences.
Probiotics are beneficial live bacteria that naturally occur from the process of fermentation in foods. Such foods are yogurt, miso soup, kimchi and sauerkraut. Probiotics also come in pill form and are also added to health drinks like Kombucha and Kefir.
Probiotics are live microorganisms that live inside your gut. They help with digestion by cleaning out the gut and keeping things running right. Basically helping to keep you regular.
BENEFITS OF PROBIOTICS
Probiotics boost the good bacteria in our guts. Some health care professionals are strong believers in probiotics helping patients that are taking antibiotics fight gastrointestinal upsets by reducing bad bacterial growth. But, we need to remember that each and every one of us is different. It is essential to find which probiotic will help our own systems. Probiotic bacteria is very fragile and can easily be killed in the production process, by time and stomach acid. It is important we are buying quality probiotics to make sure the live bacteria is actual alive!
Prebiotics are the foods that feed the probiotics in your gut. In other words, probiotics eat prebiotics.
Prebiotics are non-digestible parts of natural foods such as onions, garlic, beans, artichokes, bananas, apple skin plus more. Prebiotics, after swallowing and still undigested, make their way to the large colon. Here is where it is fermented.
This fermentation process is the food for the beneficial bacteria and helps to increase the number of good bacteria in the gut. Complicated, we know!
BENEFITS OF PREBIOTICS
Let alone prebiotics being helpful by increasing the good bacteria in the gut which reduces disease risk, immunity, digestive health, bone density, weight management and brain health; Prebiotics also improve general health and well being.
One great thing about prebiotics (which differs from probiotics) is that they are not as fragile. The reason for this is because the good bacteria in prebiotics are not affected by time, heat or stomach acid. Another benefit prebiotics have over probiotics is the process of fermentation does not differ for each individual.
PROBIOTICS VS PREBIOTICS
Both probiotics and prebiotics can help your day-to-day health and can improve the absorption of vitamins, support the guts natural immune defences and help support digestive balance.
The difference between the two is; since there are hundreds of types of probiotics available, it is hard to decipher which types are beneficial for each of us and our digestive system needs whereas, Prebiotics have the benefit of not being so fragile and are basically a one size fits all kind of thing.
Bottom line, your body needs an ample supply of both Probiotics and Prebiotics to support a healthy gut system, remembering that everything is connected to the gut!
FOODS THAT HELP BOOST PRO AND PREBIOTICS
All fermented foods contain pre and probiotics, but some more than others. Foods like sauerkraut, kefir and yogurt are packed with pro and prebiotics.
Foods high in fiber are also high in prebiotics. Foods such as garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, wheat bran, bananas and raspberries, just to name the most common. So by increasing your intake of fiber, you are also increasing your intake of prebiotics which in turn feeds the probiotics in your gut. It works like the circle of life, hee hee hee.
As for prebiotics, whether or not you want to take them separately or up your daily intake of them, it is great to know that there are many natural food products that contain lots of prebiotics that we could include in our diets.
Once again, if you are choosing to take some kind of probiotic and/or prebiotic, please ask your GP first.