PreBiotic vs ProBiotic – The Key Differences
Most people nowadays are aware of probiotics, and some have even heard about pre-biotics. Due to the similarity in their names, most people wrongly assume that prebiotic and probiotics are one and same. They may sound similar but are entirely different. In this Prebiotic vs Pro Biotic Guide, we will discuss both these in detail.
Probiotic refers to the healthy bacteria which are found in our gut microbiome or gastrointestinal tract and are essential for digestion. These are healthy beneficial bacteria that help the human body perform various vital functions, including digestion of food. Prebiotic's, on the other hand, refers to the food for these bacteria or the nutrients which keep these bacteria alive and support their growth. Let's analyze both these in detail.
Pre-biotic is the food for probiotics or gut bacteria that live within our body. Prebiotics are non-digestible fiber derived from several plant-based foods. Oligosaccharides, galactooligosaccharide, and inulin are some common examples of plant-based prebiotics. They are essential for the support and functioning of gut bacteria. It’s important to remember that although all prebiotics is fiber, not every fiber is prebiotic (1).
Probiotic refers to the trillions of bacteria that are found throughout our gastrointestinal tract and play a vital role in the digestion of food and absorption of nutrients derived from the food which we consume.
For a healthy body, we need both prebiotics and probiotics as an imbalance of healthy bacteria in our intestines & gut as either of these two could leave us exposed to several health issues such as the upset stomach, sugar cravings, weight change, insomnia and more according to research (2).
Prebiotics are mainly found in plant-based foods (3), and some plants have higher prebiotic content as compared to others. Here are some foods which are rich in prebiotic fiber which is essential for keeping the ideal balance of probiotic bacteria in your gut:
Prebiotics has several other benefits according to research (4), in addition to serve as food for probiotics found in your gut. Prebiotics enhance mineral absorption, encourage healthy blood sugar levels, aid weight loss, and boost bone health according to several studies and research (5).
It's clear there are seperate sources for both Pre and Probiotics but it's even possible to get both together at the same time from some foods. These are called synbiotics and are mostly found in dairy products like Kefir and Cheese. If you are vegan or lactose intolerant then it may be best to buy supplements that contain both PreBiotics and Probiotics. Live Well Pro-45 is a good one that contains Prebiotic Fiber and 11 strains of Probiotic.
Probiotics are known to treat several digestive diseases, and you can avoid some of the significant digestive disorders by taking probiotic foods regularly. Probiotic supplements can help people suffering from bloating, gas, irritable bowel syndrome or IBS, inflammatory bowel disease or IBD, Crohn’s disease, and urinary tract infection.
In addition to improving your overall digestive health, the best probiotics are also known to prevent several digestive diseases such as diarrhea and are known to boost your immune system against several invaders. Probiotics are also known to lower your blood pressure, promote mental health, and are known to help people lose weight according to research (7).
According to Healthline, Probiotics can potentially cause the following side effects. Gas, Bloating, Constipation, Headaches, Increased Histamine Levels, Infections in some individuals. Healthline say that people compromised immune systems or recent surgeries could be more at risk for these infections.
Women going through pregnancy should also know the risks of taking Probiotics. It could be dangerous for them and they should avoid Probiotics.
For Prebiotics, the good news is that the side effects are a lot less scary. Some of the best Prebiotics come from natural foods you may already eat every day without issue.
Hopefully, now you understand how prebiotics differs from probiotics, and we’d like to mention that both these complement each other and that you can read our best probiotics guide to find the best vegan probiotic. Several medical practitioners recommend taking prebiotics together with probiotics for maximum benefit as they essentially help most when taken together.
A regular diet that contains both prebiotics and probiotics is considered a healthy diet, and people who include the foods mentioned above in their diet are known to be generally healthy as compared to those who don’t consume prebiotic and probiotic foods. I am not a medical professional and the this content is for informational purposes only.