Home Digestive Health Can You Take Prebiotics and Probiotics Together?

Can You Take Prebiotics and Probiotics Together?

Written by Decyry Jhoy Serrano, RPh

It is common to see dietary supplements with probiotic bacteria contents.

These supplements not only improve your health but also affect your gastrointestinal tract and metabolism.

But, some people may still wonder, is it safe to take prebiotics and probiotics together?

In this article, you will learn about prebiotics, probiotics, the benefits of taking them, their side effects, what happens when you take prebiotics and probiotics together, and how to properly mix these two.

What Are Probiotics

Probiotic bacteria are good bacteria in the digestive system.

The probiotic bacteria break down, digest, and absorb nutrients from the food you eat. However, not all probiotics offer the same health benefits.

The benefits of probiotic bacteria depend on the bacteria strains used.

The most common food source of probiotic bacteria includes yogurt. In terms of probiotic supplements, these products may come in powder or liquid form.

When Is It Fine To Take Prebiotics and Probiotics Together?

Benefits of Probiotic Supplements

The lack of probiotic gut bacteria can lead to nutritional deficiencies including damage to the cell lining in the gut microbiome.

As beneficial bacteria, they can provide the following health benefits:

  • Regulates immune system
  • Prevents small intestinal bacterial overgrowth
  • Reduce the spread of harmful bacteria
  • Manages irritable bowel syndrome
  • Treats allergic disorders including colds
  • Regulation of hormone production

Generally, the use of probiotic supplements maintains gut bacteria and they restore probiotics after injuries or usage of antibiotics.

What Are Prebiotics

Prebiotics, also known as prebiotic fibers, act as food for the probiotic bacteria in your digestive system.

They promote the growth and activity of good bacteria in your gut. 

The probiotic bacteria ferment prebiotics and this fermentation process releases short-chain fatty acids, calcium, and magnesium.

These minerals then will prevent pathogenic microorganisms from invading your system. 

However, not all prebiotics can promote these effects because these are insoluble fibers that do not easily break down.

Thus choosing the best prebiotics is essential to achieving optimal health. Some of the prebiotic food sources include artichokes, asparagus, resistant starch, and garlic.

Benefits of Prebiotics

Prebiotics serves as food for probiotic bacteria. Aside from these, they can also provide the following health benefits:

  • Nutrient absorption
  • Improved bowel movement
  • Reduces constipation
  • Manages diarrhea

Prebiotic fibers can make you feel full. It increases saliva and gastric acid production, thereby reducing your appetite.

This means that a prebiotic supplement can also support a healthy weight.

Taking Prebiotics and Probiotics Together

Symbiotics is a term that is used to describe the combination of two dietary supplements that contain both probiotic bacteria and prebiotic bacteria.

The purpose of this combination is to increase the number of healthy bacteria in the digestive tract.

Prebiotic Plus Anaerobic Healthy Bacteria

So, what happens when you combine anaerobic good bacteria and prebiotics?

Generally, the combination of a probiotic and prebiotic supplement means helping the good bacteria to make it to the gut without dying.

This combination also supports the synthesis of anaerobic bacteria.

But, taking these two does not only focus on gut health.

Instead, there are other health benefits, depending on specific probiotic strains, which will be discussed in this section.

1) Weight loss

Taking prebiotic supplements with probiotics increases your prebiotic fibers.

The higher the fibers you have can help you maintain the weight you desire. This process works by reducing your appetite.

Consistent with a study from India, it was reported that combining prebiotics and probiotics can help patients with obesity.

These dietary fibers can alter gut flora positively as gut health can affect the weight of the human body.

Take note that to achieve this benefit, you must choose the right probiotic and prebiotic supplements since each supplement in the market offer different bacteria or probiotic species.

2) Immune function

If you take prebiotics and probiotics together, you are supporting the healthy bacteria in your digestive system.

Eventually, this can also prevent harmful bacteria from entering your immune system. 

So if you want a strong immune system, it is advised to take prebiotics and probiotics together.

For those with other health conditions, seek medical consultation for safer use of these supplements.

3) Gut-brain support

Combining prebiotics with probiotic supplements not only provides healthy digestion.

Another health benefit you can get from doing this therapy is gut-brain support. 

When you have a healthy gut-brain connection, your digestive system can send proper signals to your brain through visible digestive discomforts.

]Your brain, then, will easily process these signs.

Again, it is important to choose the right and high-quality prebiotic and probiotic supplement as some prebiotic carbohydrate sugars feed on certain probiotic strains more than others.

4) Enhanced mood

When bad bacteria outnumber good anaerobic bacteria, your mental health is affected as well.

This is why it is important to consume certain foods rich in both prebiotics and probiotics. 

In a study from Iran, it was reported that combining probiotics and prebiotics can improve mental health via different mechanisms.

The benefits of consuming good anaerobic bacteria together with dietary fibers found in prebiotics can reduce depression and anxiety.

This combination can also prevent Alzheimer’s Disease.

5) Anti-cancer

Having enough prebiotic and probiotic bacteria in the body can reduce the risk of developing cancer.

In a study in Germany, it was reported that these two do not only improve digestive health but can also prevent the spread of cancer. 

This benefit is still investigational but choosing the right prebiotic and probiotic supplement can surely help you achieve this effect.

6) Inflammatory arthritis treatment

Another promising benefit of combining probiotics and prebiotics includes the treatment of inflammatory arthritis.

In one study published in the Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, it was reported that those with arthritis were able to improve their condition by increasing the beneficial bacteria in their gut through the use of supplements and certain foods.

Boosting the Benefits of Microbiome Therapy

Knowing the benefits stated above, there are other tips that you can follow to improve these positive effects. Some of these include the following:

  • Choose a high-quality synbiotic. If you are taking a prebiotic and probiotic supplement separately, make sure that both of these products are of high quality.
  • Consume fiber-rich meals with these supplements. In a study from Canada, it was reported that probiotics live longer when taken with light fiber-rich meals such as oatmeals.
  • Take the supplements and the fiber-rich meal with a glass of water.
  • If you are on other medications, especially antibiotics, make sure to not take them at the same time. Keep at least a 2-hour interval for optimal results.
  • Eat other healthy foods such as fish, olive oil, leafy greens, turmeric, and medicinal mushrooms.
  • Avoid microbiome disruptors. Some of these include processed foods, trans fats, sugar, alcohol, and environmental toxins

Always remember that the right dosage should always be considered.

If you are using supplements, you can follow the instructions written on the nutrition label or ask a healthcare professional for safer use.

Side Effects of Anaerobic Probiotic Bacteria and Prebiotic Combination

Although the use of a probiotic supplement and prebiotic supplement can support gut health by balancing gut bacteria, there are still some risks to doing this combination.

Some of these side effects will be discussed in this section.

1) Digestive discomfort

A prebiotic food source can help probiotics survive. However, even the bad bacteria can be fed by prebiotics.

When probiotics kill off bad bacteria, this can cause digestive discomfort. Some of these include bloating, gas, and nausea.

There are times when acid reflux can also be experienced. 

Fortunately, these can clear up after two weeks when the body has adapted to the anaerobic bacteria plus prebiotic food source combination.

2) Overgrowth of bacteria

Another risk when you combine probiotics with prebiotics is the overgrowth of bacteria.

Patients experiencing bacterial overgrowth should seek medical help as soon as possible to avoid other health dangers.

3) Loss of appetite

Taking a prebiotic food source to promote a healthy balance of probiotics in the body can also cause appetite suppression.

Those who want to gain weight may not appreciate this side effect but those with obesity and other related health problems would surely love it.

Again, the fibers increase saliva and gastric acid production, thereby making the fibers chew longer.

4) Allergic reaction

The most dangerous side effect of feeding anaerobic bacteria with prebiotic fibers is an allergic reaction.

Although this combination can promote a healthy balance of gut bacteria, some patients can be allergic to what is being added to their bodies.

In case hives and extreme stomach pain is experienced, seek medical help as soon as possible to avoid unwanted health events.

Proper Way to Mix Prebiotics and Probiotics

It is essential to combine the right anaerobic bacteria and prebiotics to avoid side effects. Some of the tips you can do to mix prebiotics and probiotics include the following:

  • Right prebiotics with the right helpful bacteria strains.
  • The prebiotic supplements you take should effectively deliver the probiotics to the large intestine for colonization.
  • Take the supplements depending on the type of bacteria the patient is dealing with. Some bacteria prefer an acidic environment. Thus, taking acidic meals before consuming these supplements would help the bacteria make it to your gut.

Sometimes, a prebiotic and probiotic supplement are taken together. In case this is the situation, it is highly advised to take them at a different time to avoid digestive problems.

Final Thoughts

Indeed, the use of prebiotic supplements can help the body increase the number of good bacteria in the gut.

However, patients should understand that this still depends on different strains of bacteria.

Some of the effects of combining a prebiotic and probiotic supplement include weight management, increased immune support, gut-brain support, enhanced mental health, and management of inflammatory diseases such as arthritis.

Some patients may experience these benefits while others may not. Additionally, everyone should understand that not all are required to take these two together.

Some people, including those who are lactose intolerant, should avoid mixing these two.

On the other hand, patients who are taking antibiotics would benefit from this combination the most.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I take prebiotics and probiotics at the same time?

Generally, it is safe to take prebiotics and probiotics at the same time. Some products are even formulated to contain both of these in one serving. Although not required, adding prebiotics to your daily diet can make your probiotics more effective.

When taking them, you should know the type of bacteria you wish to target. Some prefer an acidic environment while others are fine with neutral.

What are the signs that prebiotics and probiotics are working?

Improvements can be seen within a week after taking these fibers and anaerobic bacteria. Some of the signs that they are working on include decreased abdominal pain, reduced bloating, less gas, regular bowel movements, better digestion, and increased energy. After taking these supplements, children who experienced diarrhea can also get a stool test to see if the results are normal already.

Who usually takes prebiotics and probiotics?

A medical doctor would usually tell a patient if he or she needs to take these supplements. Some of the basis for taking these include allergies and asthma, mood disorders, food poisoning, after taking antibiotics, frequent illness and viral infections, and certain skin conditions such as acne and psoriasis.

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