Probiotics are known as “good” bacteria for the benefits they have on your digestion and subsequent overall health. Prebiotics on the other hand are typically different types of carbs that have a positive effect on our health. Although often confused because of their similar names and related functions, they are two different things.
Here’s what you need to know:
- Probiotics: these are friendly microorganisms inhabiting the digestive tract that aids digestion
- Prebiotics: these are non-living and non-digestible carbs that serve as food and fuel for probiotics.
Probiotics live in our intestinal tract, and arrive there from the foods we eat or supplements we take. There are many types and each one behaves differently in our gut. Probiotics help us digest foods, absorb nutrients, produce vitamins like B and K, and suppress the growth of more harmful microorganisms. Scientists are only now starting to understand the complex symbiosis between the gut, bacteria and how it affects the rest of our body.
Prebiotics are not alive and most are from a form of fiber. Our body doesn't digest fiber but the bacteria in our gut, including the probiotics digest it. Prebiotics are often described as “food for the probiotics” and help stimulate their growth. Prebiotics are the carbs and long chain sugars that are later fermented by bacteria in the body. Among the supposed benefits of prebiotics, they are thought to help you better absorb minerals like calcium and magnesium, fight intestinal discomfort, diarrhea, and irritable bowel syndrome.
In simple terms, prebiotics are a form of fiber and probiotics are live yeast or bacteria. This is incredibly important for digestion and gut health.
Probiotics can be found as supplements or in fermented foods such as:
Prebiotics can be found in the raw or less ripe versions of the following foods:
Paying attention to your gut health is one of the most important (and often overlooked) things you can do for your health. Currently, a lot of research has been done around the micro-biome and apparently a happy microbiome is the secret to good health.