The Difference Between Probiotics and Prebiotics

Health & Wellness
Last Updated Jul 28, 2020
Health & Wellness

Prebiotics and probiotics may sound very similar, but they are not the same.

Probiotics are ‘good’ bacteria that are found in certain foods.  They help to maintain a healthy gut by maintaining healthy levels of good bacteria in the intestines. By maintaining a healthy gut, your immune system and defences are supported and a healthy gut can ease uncomfortable symptoms such as bloating, gas or flatulence.

You need a good amount of probiotics in your diet to help keep your digestive system in balance.  If you don’t eat enough foods rich in prebiotics, the level of probiotics in your gut may fall. Research is not clear cut on exactly what effect that may have on any individual, However, what is known is that it is important to keep the right balance between good and harmful bacteria.
Probiotics will also help to restore and stabilise your gut after a course of antibiotics.
Prebiotics are those carbohydrates that cannot be digested in the body and provide food for probiotics to help them to grow and flourish.

Good sources of probiotics:

  •     Yoghurt is one of the best sources and contains Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis;
  •     Sauerkraut
  •     miso soup
  •     fermented
  •     soft cheeses (like Gouda)
  •     sourdough bread.

The common feature of all these foods is fermentation, a process that produces probiotics.

Good sources of prebiotics:

Prebiotics such as fructooligosaccharides (FOS) and galacto‐oligosaccharides (GOS) are naturally found in many foods including:

  •     Legumes
  •     Whole wheat products
  •     Rye based foods
  •     Artichokes
  •     Onions
  •     Cabbage
  •     Garlic and
  •     Chicory root which contains inulin
  •     Honey

Consuming a diet rich in all nutrients including one that is rich in a combination of prebiotic and probiotic foods and topping up with a supplement if and when it is needed, can help your body to maintain a healthy balance of good bacteria and therefore support health and wellbeing. They may be especially beneficial for active growing bodies to support their developing digestive and immune systems.  They can also be helpful in relieving tummy upsets such as diarrhoea.

Originally published on Jun 20, 2016

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