Home Digestive Health Prebiotic vs. Probiotic: What You Should Know

Prebiotic vs. Probiotic: What You Should Know

Written by Safa Kamran

The world of health and nutrition is a vast and extensive topic that you could discuss till the kingdom come.

However, today we are looking into a small yet incredibly important part of this world, prebiotics, and probiotics.

It can seem like the only thing different between probiotics and prebiotics is a single letter.

This, of course, is not the case; there is a major difference between probiotics and prebiotics.

The good thing is that both prebiotics and probiotics are beneficial for your digestive system.

Both prebiotics and probiotics carry a number of health benefits that positively benefit your digestive tract.

Prebiotic vs. Probiotic: Definitions, Differences, And Health Benefits

To better understand why people are increasing their intake of prebiotic or probiotic supplements, you need to understand their effect on how they improve digestive health and how each one individually acts on your digestive tract.

Probiotics

Probiotics are used to enhance the effects of gut bacteria present in your gut.

While it can be hard to imagine that gut bacteria can ever be a good thing, a healthy gut contains thriving gut microbiota.

One of the key indicators of a healthy gut is the presence of gut bacteria/ gut flora.

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that improve the good gut bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract.

When it comes to helpful bacteria, probiotics are live bacteria found in certain foods.

There are numerous probiotic-rich foods that you can easily add to your diet to improve your digestive health.

Among the many foods you can choose from are certain foods like yogurt with live cultures, kimchi, kombucha, and pickles.

In fact, some of the best probiotic foods are fermented foods. There are many fermented foods you can choose from, even if fermented foods are not your favorite.

You may find that some of these probiotic foods are already a part of your diet.

However, if you feel you need to add more probiotic foods to your diet, then you have many options to choose from; you can also choose to use probiotic supplements.

Benefits

Probiotics are not just beneficial for the health and maintenance of your gastrointestinal tract, and they also holistically benefit your health.

So while you are focusing on your stomach, the probiotics are looking after your entire body’s well-being.

Probiotics may be small in size, but they are a powerful substance to have in your diet.

We know that the main concern of probiotics is to improve the functioning of the good bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract.

However, probiotics are useful in improving your mental health because, as it turns out, your mental and digestive well-being are linked.

Additionally, you may find that you are falling ill less often by including probiotics in your diet.

This is because probiotics can boost your immune system.

They enhance your immunity, so you are less likely to contract common colds or other illnesses.

Side Effects

Unfortunately, nothing in this world is one hundred percent perfect, and probiotics can carry side effects.

While these side effects may not be common, they still need to be discussed. Most people will not face any issues with probiotics at all.

People who are more prone to possible side effects have chronic gastrointestinal issues such as Crohn’s disease; these people should seek advice from their physician before starting probiotics.

Prebiotics

Prebiotics are the food source for your gut bacteria.

To keep the good gut bacteria working to the best of their ability, you need to maintain the health of these beneficial bacteria.

The best way to look after your friendly bacteria is by providing food that benefits your gut bacteria.

Adding prebiotic fiber to your diet allows the beneficial bacteria in your gut to carry out their function to the best of their ability.

Prebiotic fiber is only beneficial to gut bacteria as it can not be digested and used by humans.

These beneficial bacteria handle the digestion of many foods so that your gut flora stays healthy.

There are a number of foods you can choose from when it comes to prebiotic food.

These include whole grains, legumes, apples, berries, and asparagus.

Among whole grains, you can opt for numerous food options like buckwheat, maize, and whole grain oats.

Of course, there are other benefits of these foods besides improving the health conditions of the bacteria in your gut.

Benefits

As we already know, prebiotics is the food source for the bacteria present in our gut.

They keep these bacteria functioning and healthy so that your digestive well-being is taken care of.

While there has been less research conducted into prebiotics compared to probiotics, there are a few benefits of prebiotics that are not related to your digestion.

Prebiotics has the ability to increase the absorption of calcium in your body.

Calcium is a vital mineral that is required in numerous functions, such as the contraction of the muscles in your body, particularly the heart.

Additionally, prebiotics increases the processing of carbohydrates in the body.

This provides you with much-needed fuel at a faster rate than usual.

Why Do You Need Beneficial Bacteria?

If probiotic or prebiotic supplements are only a way to enhance the effects of your helpful bacteria, then why go through such an effort to care for them.

It may sound odd that there are helpful bacteria, but these very bacteria give you better digestive health by improving your immune system.

Ask any healthcare professional or wellness professional, and they will tell you that these bacteria are a key part of human health, particularly gastrointestinal health.

Of course, there are other potential benefits of these bacteria.

Other benefits of these bacteria include biological tasks like improving your mental health by reducing the effects of depression, combating obesity, producing short-chain fatty acids (these fatty acids are protective substances in the colon), and even making vitamin K.

Is It Better To Take Prebiotics Or Probiotics For Your Digestive Health?

While almost every healthcare professional and wellness professional worth their salt will attest to the benefits of pre and probiotics, you should always consult your healthcare provider before taking probiotics or prebiotics.

While they are good for your health, it is important to maintain the right balance of these substances.

Your healthcare provider can ensure that you are taking supplements that do not aggravate any health conditions you may have, like irritable bowel syndrome.

Once you have the all-clear from your doctor or nutritionist, you can look for the best daily probiotic or prebiotic for your health needs.

This can be in the form of food or through the use of supplements.

If you feel your daily probiotic intake is enough to maintain the level of probiotics in your system, then choose to enhance your prebiotic intake.

If, however, you feel that you are eating plenty of probiotics, then you can switch to prebiotics instead.

Both options are a way for you to improve the functioning of the bacteria in your gastrointestinal system.

Are Prebiotic Supplements And Probiotic Supplements The Same?

There are a few differences between these supplements.

Probiotics contain specific species of bacteria that improve the functioning of the already present bacteria in your gut. Probiotics also require temperature regulation as probiotics are alive.

When it comes to prebiotics, you can be laxer in how you store these supplements.

As they are not alive, you do not have to worry about temperature regulation.

Additionally, think of prebiotics as a food source for the bacteria in your gut, a way to keep them functioning to the best of their ability.

You can also find probiotics that include prebiotics as well.

This synergistically benefits the bacteria by improving both their functioning and their number in your gut.

A win-win situation for someone looking to maintain their gastrointestinal well-being.

Do I Need To Take These Supplements?

It can be easy to see everyone discussing how good a certain product or supplement is and thinking that you need it to be healthy.

You can find these supplements in pill, ready-to-drink, or powder form, in just about every price range.

While countless brands will offer you these supplements and promise you the world regarding your well-being, you may not need these supplements at all.

Not everyone needs to supplement their intake of pre and probiotics.

If you are already eating well and looking after your well-being, your intestinal bacteria are doing just fine.

However, if you are eating poorly and overloaded on refined carbs, sugars, and unhealthy fats, you may have damaged your gut bacteria and may need to fix your diet.

Even in this scenario, you may not need to resort to supplementation; all you may need is to revamp your diet.

However, if you feel that you may need supplements despite correcting your diet and living a healthy lifestyle, it is best to ask your nutritionist or doctor first.

They can help you choose the right supplement for your specific needs.

They can also recommend a trusted and effective supplement brand, as it can be easy to fall prey to brands that offer ineffective and expensive products.

Conclusion

Both pre and probiotics have their own role in the upkeep of your digestive well-being, particularly the gut in your intestines.

Both of these substances work hand-in-hand to ensure that your digestive system is healthy and functioning at its best.

By eating the right foods, you can ensure you are getting the required amount of both these substances.

There are many effective supplements available to choose from for those looking for an extra boost to their digestive and overall well-being.

You Might Also Like: