Prebiotics vs. Probiotics: What’s the difference? Do I need both?
As more research continues to look at the impact of your gut on your overall health, it’s clear that it affects everything from weight loss to mental health. To maintain a healthy gut, it's important to consistently feed and repopulate the good bacteria with prebiotics and probiotics.
What are probiotics and prebiotics?
While both prebiotics and probiotics play a role in your overall health, they have two distinctly different roles.
- Probiotics: Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria that populate your digestive system where they are responsible for a host of benefits, including immune, metabolic and digestive health.
- Prebiotics: Prebiotics are a type of plant fiber that our body cannot digest. They are the preferred food source for beneficial bacteria (probiotics), where they digest and form short-chain fatty acids.
Since probiotics and prebiotics do different things, they work together to create a healthy environment within your gut.
Why is it important to have a balanced gut?
Your entire body is impacted when your gut is imbalanced. Your body can react with a worsened immune system, brain fog, bloating, constipation, and more. Eating whole foods and incorporating the right supplements into your routine can help create a strong gut barrier that can keep out harmful bacteria and viruses. Generally, people feel less bloated, less stressed, and lighter overall when they no longer have harmful bacteria living in their gut.
How do you get more probiotics and prebiotics in your diet?
A great place to start is to focus on your diet. Be sure you’re eating diverse, colorful foods.
- Probiotic foods: sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, pickled vegetables, kombucha
- Prebiotic foods: legumes, oats, asparagus, berries, bananas, garlic, onions, yams, apple skins
How do I know if I should take a prebiotic or probiotic supplement?
In general, everyone can benefit from taking a daily probiotic. Take the time to identify what your body needs, then find a probiotic to help with those specific issues. Be sure to take a look at your probiotic's label to ensure there is a complete ingredient list -- and don’t be fooled by the packaging! Just because something says healthy and natural doesn’t mean that it’s right for you. Read more about finding the right probiotic here.
When it comes to prebiotics, everyone’s body reacts differently. Avoid overloading your gut with an excess amount of prebiotics in a small period of time. This can worsen your symptoms and lead to bloating and general discomfort. Start adding small amounts of additional prebiotic fiber over time for best results.
Overall, both prebiotics and probiotics are great for overall health. Adding them to your daily supplement routine can help you maintain a balanced environment in your gut and protect your body from future illnesses.