PreBiotic vs ProBiotic – The Key Differences

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.

What Are PreBiotic's?

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)

What Are Probiotic's ?

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)

PreBiotic Foods

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:

  • Acacia Gum: Acacia Gum contains prebiotic and is one of the most potent prebiotics on the planet. You can mix the powder in the water and drink it.
  • Asparagus: You can eat raw asparagus to get the required dose of prebiotics as raw asparagus is also one of the best prebiotics available in the world.
  • Bananas: Bananas are commonly used for balancing the gut and are also one of the most potent prebiotics. Unripe bananas are also a good choice.
  • Chicory Root: Chicory root, as the name suggests, is the root of the chicory vegetable. It contains 65% fiber and is an excellent prebiotic.
  • Dandelion Greens: Dandelion greens contain 25% fiber and are a good source of prebiotics. These can consumed as salad or can be cooked with other vegetables.
  • Garlic: Garlic is also a good source of prebiotics as it contains two crucial prebiotics, inulin, and fructooligosaccharides (FOS), namely. 
  • Leafy Greens: Leafy greens such as spinach are abundant in fiber, which makes them an ideal prebiotic food.
  • Legumes: Legumes, including chickpeas, lentils, and beans are rich in fiber and are among some of the best prebiotic food.
  • Onions: Onion's are an excellent prebiotic food due to its fiber content. 
  • Artichoke: Artichokes are said to be a great choice with jerusalem artichokes one of the best source of prebiotics.

Potential PreBiotic Benefits

Prebiotics may have several other benefits according to research (4), besides, to serve as food for probiotics found in your gut. Prebiotics may enhance mineral absorption, encourage healthy blood sugar levels, aid weight loss, and boost bone health according to several studies and research. (5)

If you would like to try a supplement that contains both Pre-Biotics & Probiotics then trying gummies may be your best bet. There are many gummy products that contain both Pre & Probiotics.

You can take prebiotic's at any time of the day. The most important thing is that you take them at the same time you are taking your probiotics so that they can work together in your gut.

Probiotic Foods

  • Kefir: This traditional Turkish form of yogurt is one of the best probiotic foods available.
  • Yogurt: Yogurt has been long known as food, which aids in digestion and is one of the best probiotics which is also readily available across the world. You can choose plant-based, dairy free variety for maximum benefit and must also avoid sweetened versions as sugar is known to disrupt digestion.
  • Pickled Vegetables: Pickled vegetables such as pickled cucumbers are also good bacteria probiotic foods as long as they are not pickled in vinegar.
  • Tempeh: Tempeh is a fermented soybean product that is rich in both protein and probiotics.
  • Natto: Natto is made from fermented soybeans and is also a good rich source of probiotics.
  • Sauerkraut: Sauerkraut is a form of fermented cabbage which is rich in lactobacillus probiotics created during the fermentation process. (6)

Synbiotic Foods

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 Concious Pro-45 is a good one that contains Prebiotic Fiber and 11 strains of Probiotic. If you are interested in just getting a prebiotic supplement without probiotics then Dr. Steven Gundry's Prebiothrive may be a good option since you can take it easily by mixing it in water.

Potential Probiotic Benefits

Probiotic supplements may help people suffering from bloating, gas, irritable bowel syndrome or IBS, inflammatory bowel disease or IBD and Crohn’s disease.

Probiotics may also help to lower blood pressure, promote mental health, and are known to sometimes help people lose weight according to research. (7)

Prebiotic Side Effects

According to Healthline, Probiotics can potentially cause the following side effects. Gas, Bloating, Constipation, Headaches, Increased Histamine Levels, Infections in some individuals.

Healthline says 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.

There is no evidence to suggest that Prebiotics can cause yeast infections, headaches, headache. If you experience any symptoms you should consult a medical professional immediately. 

Prebiotic's shouldn't cause weight gain but if you are eating your prebiotic's from natural food sources then make sure to eat the recommended daily amount for your BMI.

Conclusion

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 this content is for informational purposes only.

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