FEATURED ARTICLE: Highlighting the Difference Between Prebiotics and Probiotics.
Prebiotics, probiotics- is this a case of same, same but different? The short answer is yes.
While prebiotics and probiotics serve very different roles in the digestive system, they both help to regulate our gut health. The main difference is that prebiotics are far more robust. While probiotics are live bacteria, highly susceptible to heat and stomach acid.
To learn more about the difference between prebiotics and probiotics, this blog outlines it all…
The Difference Between Prebiotics and Probiotics
Prebiotic fiber is defined as non-digestible parts of food that we may consume on a daily basis. These non-digestible fibers come from common foods such as bananas, onions, garlic, artichokes, the skin of apples, beans, and many more.
Basically, these food particles pass through the small intestine as undigested fiber. This then kickstarts a fermentation process inside the large colon.
Probiotics are defined as live bacteria that are highly beneficial to the human gut and digestive system. These live bacteria help to grow and stimulate a myriad of good bacteria in the gut, which supports your immunity. Probiotics are naturally created through the fermentation process in certain foods. However, these foods are not as common in everyday diets. This includes sauerkraut, miso, kimchi, kombucha, and yogurt, of course.
Probiotics are also widely available in pill form to help supplement your diet.
The Different Role of Prebiotics and Probiotics
Supplementing your diet with both can have a plethora of benefits for your overall health, not just your microbiome. Learn more about the microbiome and your mitochondrial health with MicrobeFormulas.com.
But in order to understand what to supplement your diet with, it’s important to get to grips with the nature and role of prebiotics and probiotics.
Probiotics are fragile in nature. This means they can easily be killed by heat, stomach acid or simply die off over time. To add to this, there are hundreds of strains of probiotics available today. This makes a tough job of trying to pin down what works for your gut health and what doesn’t.
On the other hand, prebiotics are a little more robust. They’re not affected by heat, digestive acid or time. Prebiotic fiber also nourishes the beneficial bacteria already in the gut. And inhibits the growth of nasty or harmful microbes. The impact of prebiotic fiber is universal. Meaning that the health benefits are not determined by your own unique requirements, they are suitable for everyone.
Team Work Between the Two
But probably the most important thing to note is that prebiotics and probiotics work as a team inside the microbiome. There’s no competition between the two. Prebiotics act as ”good bacteria” in the digestive system and are already present in the intestines. Even if you don’t consume prebiotic foods or supplements. With the addition of prebiotic fiber, this helps to stimulate the growth and function of good bacteria- i.e. probiotic bacteria. Overall, this improves digestive function and overall health.
Probiotics in More Detail
Aside from aiding in digestion, these live microorganisms help to fight off disease-causing bacteria in the gut and improve overall immune function. They also assist in effective nutrient absorption throughout the digestive tract.
Your gut is actually packed with an estimated one-hundred-trillion live microorganisms. This also includes 500 different species of probiotics in the bowel. All-in-all, this the mark of our digestive shield, protecting us from illness. It’s when there’s an imbalance in the microbiome that we suffer from health conditions. Some of these include gastrointestinal issues such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and suppressed immune function.
Some of the best fermented, probiotic-rich foods to include in the diet are:
- Plain yogurt
- Kefir milk
- Aged cheeses
- Fermented vegetables i.e. kimchi or sauerkraut
- Miso products
- Raw honey
- Fermented drinks such as kombucha
Probiotics are comprised of a number of different microorganisms i.e. bacteria. Some of the most common bacteria in probiotics include Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
The bottom line is that different bacterial strains have different effects on the gut. What may work for one person, may not work for you. Finding the best probiotic supplement is about trial and error. But you really can’t go wrong with supplementing with probiotic-rich foods.
Prebiotics in More Detail
Prebiotics are indigestible fibers that help to support the function of good bacteria in the intestinal tract. Prebiotic fiber enters the GI tract and moves through it completely untouched by heat or stomach acids until it reaches the large colon. From here, these fibers are broken down and fermented.
It’s this fermentation process that produces short-chain fatty acids. These feed and stimulate the growth of good bacterial colonies already existing in the gut. In short, prebiotics are a form of dietary fiber that acts as a natural fertilizer for the digestive system.
Supplementing your diet with an oligofructose enriched inulin-based (OEI) prebiotic can have beneficial effects on a number of health conditions. Some of these include common digestive problems, bone loss, and obesity. Otherwise, you could also incorporate these plant foods into your diet on-the-daily:
- Steel-cut or rolled oats
- Flax seeds
- Chia seeds
- Jerusalem artichokes
- A range of legumes
If you prefer to supplement your diet naturally, then make sure to include any of these probiotics and prebiotic foods in your daily diet. Otherwise, if you choose to take supplements, make sure you do so at the same time, daily. This helps to encourage a regular digestive routine and a healthy microbiome!
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