What Are The Differences Between Probiotics And Prebiotics?
Probiotics And Prebiotics. We are LOUD about gut health here over in the KB community because we know its importance! Gut health is tied to everything. One part we should understand is the benefits and differences of probiotics and prebiotics. Who are they for? What to look for? Why do we need them in the first place? Why should we even care about the gut microbiome? To conclude, I will give you a list of beneficial foods that are high in both probiotics and prebiotics.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria. They can help with gut inflammation, keeping you regular with bowel movements, help maintain your weight and keep intestinal problems at bay. Taking a probiotic everyday has recently become fairly trendy in the health and wellness world because we finally realize how much it can do for us. (Source)
A professional-grade probiotic can help in supporting healthy gastrointestinal microbiota and immune function because the gut is the cornerstone of your immune system, and as most of you may already know, 70-80% of your immune tissue is in your gut. Taking a good quality probiotic formula is an excellent choice for daily use to maintain a diverse beneficial gut microbiota.
What are prebiotics?
Prebiotics are the food for this beneficial bacteria. Prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates. Prebiotics feed probiotics. They help make conditions in the gut tolerable for probiotics to survive. They add to our FIBER intake- which also helps our digestion and keeps us regular. (Source)
It is important to get an equal balance of prebiotics and probiotics into your diet.
Should everyone take a probiotic supplement?
The short answer is, the human body is so bioindividual that you really should work with a doctor to figure out the types of bacteria you need. If you need a probiotic supplement at all. Most do, but only if you find a beneficial one.
You can find these probiotic supplements in liquid form, pill form, or powder form. They all contain beneficial bacteria.
With the thousands of probiotics on the market, you should know that not all of them are worth your money. What is unfortunate is that many companies make strong claims and back them up with zero proof. They prey on people’s fears of not having a healthy gut, and use buzz words like “gut food” to get people to purchase. I mention this because it is so important to get a probiotic that is vetted and professional grade.
You also need to keep in mind that these probiotics (even the professional-grade ones) do not include prebiotics. Remember, probiotics need prebiotics to feed off of if they are going to work. Therefore, when you purchase a probiotic, if you intend on it working, you need to also commit to getting in enough prebiotic foods into your diet. We will cover those towards the end. If you are taking a probiotic but only eating a mainly high-sugar diet, this is not going to help your gut nor your insulin production. (Source)
Another reason to choose a professional grade supplement and to make sure it is really vetted out is that there are many probiotics out there that aren’t strong enough to make the probiotic pass through the stomach acid. Passing through the stomach acid is key because we want it to get into the large intestine for more significant improvements. A lot of probiotics don’t do much.
There are probiotics on the market that can work wonderfully for a person (source.). These are professional grade and are formulated with strains that can make it into the large intestine. But keep in mind, you still need to commit to adding in prebiotics to your diet.
There are people who should not take a probiotic (although this can really only be determined through true medical guidance) and they are those who might be suffering from SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) or people who are simply sensitive to or prone to irritation from certain strains or ingredients in a probiotic supplement.
Overall, when you learn exactly what your body needs, a great probiotic is a beneficial thing to add to your routine in order to support gut health.
Feeding the gut microbiome with prebiotics and probiotics
Now that we have talked about the difference between probiotics and prebiotics, let’s tie it all together and talk about why it really matters in general. What the gut microbiome really is and why we should cater to it.
Think of your gut microbiome as a lush forest of all kinds of different trees. It needs to grow, flourish, stay fresh. You need to keep that forest healthy. What are the trees? They are trillions of bacteria, fungi and viruses. Together, they are known as the microbiome. A largely important ecosystem in your body.
Some of these bacteria, fungi and viruses are associated with disease and illness. But most should be doing incredible works for your body.
To put in your mind how important gut health is- did you know we are more bacteria than we are human? How can this be? Science has shown us that there are roughly 40 trillion bacteria and only 30 trillion human cells.
A healthy gut goes beyond digestion: it plays into your energy levels, mood, your immune system, weight, heart health, and more. (Source)
If you struggle with gut issues, fear not. It can be a long and patient road, but results can come.
Start by talking to your doctor about the state of your gut and possibly introducing probiotics and prebiotics.
Foods high in probiotics
- Kefir (either kefir water or kefir yogurt)
- Kombucha tea
- Pickled vegetables
Foods high in prebiotics
- Berries and bananas
- Garlic and onions
- Jerusalem artichokes
- Potatoes (after they have cooled once your cook them)
Some fun ways you can incorporate both probiotic and prebiotic foods into your diet
You can also use fermented yogurt and make delicious smoothie-like drink.
You can start hiding black beans into brownies! Promise you can’t taste it.
You can make a spicy yogurt sauce or dressing and even add sauerkraut or kimchi on top.
You can start adding more onions and garlic into homemade soups and homemade rice.
There are so many options! And if you ever need inspiration, I invite you to follow along on IG (@KarenBerriosBlog) as I am always showcasing food and practices where, even if I don’t show it exactly, a lot of the foods I eat are high in probiotics and prebiotics. And I feel great. 🙂
Great info re: probiotics and probiotics. Thanks!