Probiotics are an essential supplement I recommend that everyone take to support optimal digestive health. Yet, you may not know that a prebiotic is just as vital to your gut health. So, what’s the difference between probiotics and prebiotics?
Imagine that your gut microbiome is a rainforest. In a rainforest, many plants live together in a symbiotic ecosystem. Still, if the balance gets disrupted, the good or beneficial plants begin to die, and the bad ones start to take over. Think of probiotics as soldiers fighting for your gut health by supplying good plants to your gut microbiome to keep the delicate balance. Prebiotics provide those good plants with food to stimulate their growth, making a stronger army.
I’m going to tell you why you should take prebiotics, the importance of fiber in your diet, and share some exciting news about my new physician-formulated prebiotic. Before I get into that, let’s discuss the differences between prebiotics and probiotics.
Probiotic vs. Prebiotic
I gave you a general overview of the differences between a probiotic and prebiotics, yet it goes a little deeper. The one difference to keep in mind is that prebiotics is essentially food. Just as you need food for energy and nourishment, good bacteria need food for energy to fight off harmful bacteria in your gut. Let’s go deeper into the differences between prebiotics and probiotics.
What are Probiotics?
Probiotics are living microorganisms that can work in your gut to support your body in many ways. They can be found in dietary supplements and fermented foods, as well as within the natural microbiome of your body.12
A healthy microbiome is linked to the prevention of many conditions, including ulcerative colitis, urinary tract infections, irritable bowel syndrome, Candida overgrowth, and adult acne.3
You have probably seen probiotics at your local grocery store in refrigerated cases because many probiotic bacteria are naturally sensitive to heat and moisture.4 I made sure that Probiotic Capsules 30 Billion were sealed in a high-quality injection-molded bottle to protect the capsules from factors that compromise the stability of probiotics, such as heat, light, moisture, and oxygen.
Let me tell you more about the benefits of probiotics.
The Benefits of Probiotics
Probiotics are live, beneficial bacteria that help keep your gut in balance.Probiotics do essential jobs in your body, including synthesizing vitamins such as the B vitamins thiamine and riboflavin, absorbing water, and fending off dangerous bacteria that can upset your gut microbiome. Exposure to environmental toxins, eating a diet high in inflammatory processed foods, and stress feed the harmful bacteria in your gut. What’s more, even taking a single round of antibiotics wipes out not just the bad in your gut microbiome but the good as well.
Here are a few benefits of probiotics and why it’s important to keep the proper balance.
Probiotics Support Your Immune System
Eighty percent of your immune system is in your gut. A properly functioning digestive system is critical to good health, and probiotics support your gut health in turn promoting a healthy immune system response.
Probiotics Promote a Gut Balance
Probiotics can help you maintain the correct balance of gut flora in your body. Everyone’s gut has a mix of good and bad bacteria.
Probiotics Support Vaginal Wellness
Probiotics, including Lactobacillus, also influence vaginal bacteria. This probiotic produces lactic acid and hydrogen peroxide, which supports your vagina in maintaining an acidic pH level. This high acid helps the vagina fight bacterial infections such as bacterial vaginosis.
Probiotics Promote Regular Bowel Movements
Regular bowel movements are essential to optimal health because your body expels toxins and waste products to remain balanced. Takinga probiotic softens the stool to help it get through the colon with ease. As an added benefit, becoming more regular can also help you lower your blood pressure, as constipation can raise it.
Probiotics Help Bowel Transit Time
Probiotics impact how long waste remains in your body. Generally, a too-short transit time means your digestive system has not had the opportunity to absorb as much water and nutrients as it should. This can result in diarrhea or loose stools, dehydration, and nutritional deficiencies. Too long transit time means your digestive system has trouble eliminating waste, resulting in constipation.
Remember, good bacteria keep harmful bacteria in check. Probiotics restore the balance in your gut and keep it functioning correctly. In cases of a diet full of processed foods, toxin exposure, or antibiotic use is when a prebiotic is essential. Let me tell you about prebiotics.
What Are Prebiotics?
Just as with all living organisms, your gut microbiota, or good bacteria, needs food for energy to perform their best. This is where prebiotics comes in. Prebiotics feed the good bacteria in your gut microbiome. Without prebiotics, the good bacteria may not effectively fight off the overgrowth of bad bacteria. This is especially true if you have Candida overgrowth or leaky gut, as your good bacteria must work twice as hard to fight the bad bacteria.
Prebiotics are dietary fibers from carbohydrates that bypass digestion to get into your colon. Once in your colon, the microorganisms metabolize and ferment the prebiotics to survive, which creates a variety of byproducts to support your gut health.
When the microorganisms break down prebiotics in your gut, different short-chain fatty acids are created depending on the prebiotic. As a result, these short-chain fatty acids provide energy to your colon cells, helping with mucus production, and aid in inflammation and immunity.5 However, that’s not all!
Benefits of Prebiotics
It’s important to remember that prebiotics are a form of dietary fiber, and most Americans don’t eat enough dietary fiber in their diets. Dietary fiber adds bulk to your diet and makes you feel full faster. It makes sense that one of the benefits of prebiotics is supporting weight loss. Yet, the benefits of prebiotics go beyond weight loss.
Here are more benefits of prebiotics.
- Supports digestive health
- Reduce the risk of autoimmune disease
- Reduce the risk of gut infections
- Ssupports a healthy immune system
- Promotes a healthy inflammatory response
- Facilitates healthy cholesterol levels
- Boosts a healthy metabolism and supports weight loss
Now that you know the difference between prebiotics and probiotics, you might be asking if you need both. The answer is yes! Taking a prebiotic and probiotic will make your army more substantial and effective in fighting off harmful bacteria in your gut. One way to get more prebiotics is through your diet. Let’s take a look at the best prebiotic foods.
Best Prebiotic Foods
There are many prebiotic-rich foods that you can incorporate into your diet in fun and delicious ways. Here is a list of prebiotic foods to feed the good bacteria in your gut.
You know the old saying, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away?” There’s truth to those famous words. Apples are a great source of dietary fiber and so rich in antioxidants, polyphenols, and pectin that eating one or more a day (keep the skin on!) can improve your digestive health, boost your metabolism, support healthy cholesterol levels and promote an immune system response.
Eating asparagus promotes friendly gut bacteria,can help reduce inflammation, is rich in antioxidants, and has even been linked to preventing certain forms of liver cancer. Asparagus can be steamed as a side dish or as part of a salad.
Bananas are high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals and are easy to find year-round. Slightly unripe bananas have potent effects as a prebiotic food source. They can increase good gut bacteria, reduce bloating, and improve muscle relaxation due to their high potassium content. However, bananas are high in both carbs and sugar, so if you’re battling SIBO or avoiding carbs, eat sparingly.
Chicory root has a distinct, coffee-like flavor. When prepared as tea, it is a wonderful alternative to coffee that can be particularly helpful for those trying to quit caffeine. Chicory root is a fantastic prebiotic food source that stimulates the growth of good bacteria while suppressing bad bacteria. In addition, chicory can improve digestion, relieve constipation, prevent the early onset of diabetes, and aid in detoxification by supporting liver function.
Dandelion greens are excellent prebiotic foods and a great source of fiber and antioxidants. They support digestion and your immune system while facilitating an immune system response and healthy cholesterol levels.
Garlic is an herb with a long tradition of medicinal use due partly to its potent antimicrobial benefits. This prebiotic food can aid your digestion and help prevent gastrointestinal diseases. Research has shown that prebiotic food such as garlic can help reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer.
Jerusalem artichoke is also known as the “earth apple.” Despite its name, this prebiotic food is not related to globe artichoke; instead, it is a species of sunflower with a delicious, edible tuber. Jerusalem artichokes are rich in potassium, thiamine, and fiber. They support brain health and your immune system, facilitate healthy blood glucose levels, and promote muscle function.
Jicama root is a Mexican tuber that’s crunchy, light, and low in calories. Many people describe the taste as a combination between a potato and an apple. Jicama is rich in prebiotic fiber, vitamin C, and amino acids. It is excellent for supporting digestion, blood glucose levels, and your immune system.
Leeks are in the same family as garlic and onions (the Allium genus) and offer similar health benefits. This prebiotic food source is rich in kaempferol, a free radical scavenger that limits damage from oxidative stress. Leeks are an excellent source of vitamin K for supporting strong bones and B6 for protecting your heart health.
Onions are versatile, nutrient-dense, and rich in prebiotics, antioxidants, and flavonoids. They are great for supporting gut health, facilitating an immune system response, and promoting heart health.
Now you know some powerful prebiotic food sources that you can add to your diet. However, what if I told you that you could get all the benefits of a prebiotic in an easy, convenient way without eating prebiotic foods all day? If so, I have some exciting news for you!
How to Add a Prebiotic to Your Diet?
You could eat fiber-rich prebiotic foods all day and still not get optimal amounts of prebiotics daily. That’s why I have researched the best prebiotic sources to formulate Prebiotic Fiber Complete™ to maintain optimal gut health, digestion, and regular bowel patterns.
Very few of us get the amount of fiber and prebiotics we need to maintain our optimal digestive health. Even if you are already taking a fiber supplement, if it is not a physician-formulated blend, it is likely insufficient for meeting your digestive health needs.
I created Prebiotic Fiber Complete™ to include multiple types of fiber and specific prebiotics to help you achieve optimal digestive health, including Fibriss™ and Inulin.
Fibriss™ is an insoluble fiber essential for supporting digestion and regular bowel patterns by making your movements easier to pass with less strain on your bowels.
Inulin is the perfect soluble fiber to fit into your diet. Being soluble means attracting water into your digestive tract to promote healthy bowel movements and supporting healthy cholesterol and blood glucose levels. Plus, it contains vitamins and minerals like vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, phosphorus, and magnesium.
Finally, I also included Fibregum™ when formulating Prebiotic Fiber Complete™. Fibregum™ supports the good bacteria that support your gut health and is an organic, all-natural soluble dietary fiber extracted from gum acacia. Fibregum™ acts as a prebiotic for many beneficial strains of bacteria in your digestive tract, improving digestion and strengthening your body’s natural immune response.
Prebiotic Fiber Complete™ is a physician-formulated fiber blend to give the good bacteria in your gut the strength it needs to fight off the overgrowth of harmful bacteria. When you add a prebiotic to a daily probiotic, you give your gut a strong army for optimal digestive health!
FAQs About the Difference Between Prebiotics and Probiotics
Which is better prebiotics or probiotics?
Which is better prebiotics or probiotics?
Both are equally important. Probiotics add to the good bacteria in your gut to help keep the good and bad bacteria in your gut microbiome in balance. Prebiotics are food for the good bacteria from probiotics and make them stronger.
Can you take prebiotics and probiotics together?
Can you take prebiotics and probiotics together?
Yes. In fact, you should take them together. Think of probiotics as an army fighting a war with bad bacteria in your gut. As with any soldier, probiotics need food. Prebiotics provide food for energy to make the probiotics stronger.
Do prebiotics make you poop?
Do prebiotics make you poop?
Prebiotics are a dietary fiber that aid in digestion, promotes regular bowel patterns, and encourages the growth of helpful bacteria. Plus, as an insoluble fiber, prebiotics makes your bowel movements easier to pass with less strain on your bowels.
- Probiotics: What You Need To Know. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. 2021.
- Is acne vulgaris more common in men or women?. Jaggi Rao, MD, FRCPC. Medscape. 2020.
- Sex-Gender Differences in Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Young Sun Kim and Nayoung Kim. Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility, vol. 24. 2018.
- Why Some Probiotics Require refrigeration. Consumer Lab. 2017.
- What Are Prebiotics and What Do They Do?. Cleveland Clinic. 2022.