Prebiotics & Probiotics: What's the difference?

Prebiotics & Probiotics: What’s the difference?

A healthy gut has hundreds of different bacteria living their everyday life keeping you healthy, happy and safe from infections and illness. That is until poor diet and lifestyle, exposure to toxins such as pesticides, use of antibiotics as well as stress impact on our gut bacteria causing dysbiosis. Dysbiosis is when you have more bad bacteria than good bacteria in your gut which can cause bloating, gas, indigestion, diarrhoea or constipation. A healthy digestive system should have over 1.5kg of good bacteria in it so if you don’t have those good bacteria working hard to protect you from disease you are going to feel very unwell!

The good news is it’s relatively easy to fix! We can help our good gut bacteria to thrive by taking probiotic and prebiotics. We may assume that prebiotics and probiotics are the same thing as they sound much alike but although they both help to keep your gut healthy, interestingly they aren’t the same. Confused? Let us explain!

Probiotics are living bacteria which are naturally found in fermented foods such as yoghurt, sauerkraut, and kombucha. Probiotics can also be taken in a supplement form – either a capsule or powder. It is the probiotics job to maintain healthy levels of the good bacteria we need in our intestines to support our overall health, strengthen our immunity and assist with digestion of our food. Probiotics also help to address dysbiosis to relieve symptoms such as bloating, gas or flatulence. They are a must when taking antibiotics as probiotics help to replace the good bacteria which are destroyed by the antibiotics as they work at killing the bad disease-causing bacteria.

Prebiotics are ‘non-living’ sources of fibre which survive the journey from stomach and small intestine to arrive in the large intestine unaffected by the digestive process. Once there these plant fibres provide nutrition for the good bacteria to help them to flourish and grow. The more undigestible plant fibres (prebiotics) the good bacteria (probiotics) have to eat, the more efficiently these live bacteria work and the healthier your gut will be. Rich sources of prebiotic foods are bananas, tomatoes, green vegetables, flaxseeds, legumes, artichokes, onions, garlic, cabbage, rye based foods and whole wheat and oat products.

If you have uncomfortable digestive issues, are constantly sick with colds or have been on antibiotics, probiotics with the right therapeutic strains of good bacteria taken daily will help to improve your health. Probiotic rich foods such as sauerkrauts and yoghurts or fermented drinks such as kefir and kombucha consumed daily will also be of benefit. Combining these probiotics with a diet rich in prebiotic foods to help feed the good bacteria will help to improve and maintain the health of your gastrointestinal tract which is essential for maintaining good health and vitality.