Last Updated: Oct 2, 2020
Categorized in: Guides, Supplement Guides

Prebiotics Vs. Probiotics – What’s The Difference?

Written by Fitness Clone

Research-Based Trusted Source
Prebiotics Vs. Probiotics

Have you noticed a growing emphasis on the importance of gut health in recent years? Two supplements that have also been growing in popularity are probiotics and prebiotics. Probiotics and prebiotics may sound alike but these two powerful supplements play different functions in the digestive system and overall health of a human.

In summary, probiotics are live microorganisms also referred to as the good bacteria in your body, whereas, prebiotics are the food these good bacteria eat. Both of these play fundamental roles in the human body, and more specifically in the gut biome.

Today we are going to go over everything you need to know to get started on prebiotics and probiotics. We will go over what they are, as well as their pros, cons, price, where to buy, and most importantly, whether or not the supplements worth your money. 

Prebiotic And Probiotic Pills

About Probiotics

Probiotics are live microorganisms and are regarded as the body’s ‘good bacteria.’ These microorganisms are classified into different strains also known as the genetic subtypes of species. These good bacteria, for the most part, are found within the bounds of the intestines and thrive within the gut biome.

While there are many types of bacteria that can be classified as probiotics, the most popular comes from the groups of lactobacillus and bifidobacterium.

Lactobacillus is the most frequently heard of probiotic strain and is said to help with the prevention of different stomach problems such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diarrhea, constipation, dyspepsia, and bloating. Also, they can potentially fight against certain allergies, prevent vaginal infections, promote weight loss, strengthen the immune system, and reduce the risk to certain diseases too.

On the other hand, Bifidobacterium is one of the well-studied and well-established bacterias commonly associated with the body’s homeostasis. It is said to be beneficial in the absorption of nutrients, breaking down of body wastes, reducing intestinal concentrations of certain carcinogenic enzymes, and relieving anxiety. These two strains are typically found in most probiotic supplements as they are fundamental to maintaining your overall health and well-being.

Probiotics For Gut

About Prebiotics

Prebiotics are coined as the main source of food for probiotics. They are naturally occurring carbohydrate plant fibers and resistant starch that stimulate the growth of good bacteria in the gut. They move through the GI tract undigested until they reach the colon where they undergo fermentation. The fermentation process produces short-chain fatty acids, which feed and increase the colonies of good bacteria that are already present in the gut.

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Studies show that increasing the intake of prebiotics can help good bacteria produce nutrients for the colon cells. This leads to a healthier digestive system. Without prebiotics present, probiotics are unable to thrive and sustain their functions.

In addition, prebiotics can also enhance mineral absorption, manage the spike of blood sugar, keep the cells in the intestinal lining healthy, ferment the food faster for a regular bowel movement, boost bone health, aid in weight loss, and even have potential anti-cancer properties.

Prebiotics For Stomach Pain

What Are Synbiotics? 

Alone, both probiotics and prebiotics have their own functions, but together they form a very powerful team-up called a synbiotic – the synergistic connection between probiotics and prebiotics. 

Synbiotics can be considered the gut biome tag team, a dynamic duo for developing and maintaining the health of the gut microbiome. Most of the time, food supplements team up the prebiotics with probiotics in a single supplement. This means that they provide your gut with good bacteria along with suitable food sources in one supplement to achieve optimal effects.

A balanced consumption of both probiotics and prebiotics can help set the seal in achieving and keeping our gut microbiota healthy.

Benefits Of Prebiotics Vs. Probiotics

The body needs both probiotics and prebiotics. They can be taken separately but they work best together as they hand-in-hand support the microbiome. 

Nonetheless, it’s important to know that probiotics are very sensitive; they will be killed by heat, stomach acid, or just die with time. Take note, that probiotic bacteria in supplements are only effective if they are alive. On the other hand, prebiotics are not affected by temperature, stomach acid, or time.

Aside from nourishing probiotics and keeping them fed, prebiotics can enhance mineral absorption, manage the spike of blood sugar, keep the cells in the intestinal lining healthy, ferment the food faster for a regular bowel movement, boost bone health, aid in weight loss, and even have potential anti-cancer properties.

Probiotics are beneficial in the absorption of nutrients, breaking down of body wastes, reducing intestinal concentrations of certain carcinogenic enzymes, and relieving anxiety. These two strains are typically found in most probiotic supplements as they are fundamental to maintaining your overall health and well-being.

Supplementing with probiotics and prebiotics are both essential to obtain optimal health in general. 

Prebiotics Vs. Probiotics Ingredients

From A Food Source

Probiotics can be found in fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha, fermented cheeses, and fermented soybean products such as miso, tempeh, and tofu. Keep in mind that fermented foods should not be pasteurized, as this process kills the bacteria.

Prebiotics can be found in many vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains that are high in fiber such as asparagus, leeks, onions, garlic, oats, apples, unripe bananas, chicory root, peas, berries, and more. 

Some foods like pickled asparagus, beans, pickled vegetables, and sauerkraut with raw onions, pull double duty as they contain both probiotics and prebiotics resulting in synbiotics.

From A Supplement Source

While we can incorporate a variety of foods to our diets, we might still have to supplement with a prebiotic/probiotic supplement. Luckily, many supplements include a synbiotic formulation, as opposed to probiotics or prebiotics by themselves. However, unlike food, we have certain factors to consider when it comes to choosing the right supplement. 

Among These Are The Following:

  1. CFU or the colony-forming unit which estimates the number of live bacteria inside the supplement. About 5 to 10 billion CFU is the ideal number for dosing.
  2. Check the different strains included in the supplement. These strains will most likely tell the benefits and functions that you can get. The bacteria in the GI tract have been classified into over 10,000 non-identical strains that work together to come up with optimal health. No single bacterium strain can all the job alone. Look for varieties.
  3. Inspect for survivability as mentioned probiotics are very sensitive to light, temperature, ph level, and other environmental conditions.
  4. Look for prebiotics. Without prebiotics as food, the probiotics will starve.

Are Prebiotics And Probiotics Safe?

You can get the best of both worlds with probiotics and prebiotics. In spite of that, too much of which can lead to the opposite, gas, bloating, constipation, loose stool, and sometimes loss of appetite. Start with small amounts and gradually increase your intake to avoid adverse effects. Also, try to pay attention to any other side effects like rashes, nausea, vomiting, and more.

In addition, be mindful of a possible allergic reaction to the bacteria that are being introduced to your body.  If you experience any break out in hives or severe stomach pain after taking a prebiotic or probiotic, stop it immediately. Commercial prebiotics and probiotics are generally safe for healthy people as per The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Yet there are few and far between instances when a healthy individual becomes sick after taking certain types of bacteria contained in probiotics. Take note that probiotics are not considered as treatment as per standards by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

Lastly, there can also be possible risks for patients with a compromised immune system. The effect, quality, and type can change from brand to brand. Always talk to your physician to find the right probiotic and prebiotic supplement for you.

Best Prebiotics And Probiotics On The Market

Gundry MD 24 Strain Probiotic

24 Strain Probiotic

Gundry MD 24 Strain Probiotic is one of the most potent probiotic supplements on the market today, thanks to its combination of 24 unique probiotic strains – each designed to balance the bacteria in your gut, and to help your “good bugs” thrive.

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Gundry MD PrebioThrive

PrebioThrive

PrebioThrive combines five advanced prebiotic ingredients to help promote a probiotic-friendly environment in your gut. By helping the “good bacteria” in your gut to flourish, PrebioThrive supports healthy digestion, energy levels, and overall feelings of wellness. 

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Seed Daily Synbiotic

Seed Daily Synbiotic

Seed Daily Synbiotic includes clinically-studied probiotic strains that deliver core benefits to the gastrointestinal system which, in turn, influence systemic health. They point out that not all probiotics are created the same, and that is why they only use high-quality ingredients. 

GET THE BEST PRICE ON SEED DAILY SYNBIOTIC

Olly Probiotic + Prebiotic

Prebiotic and Probiotic by Olly

From the makers of Olly Sleep Gummies comes Olly Probiotic + Prebiotic. This supplement delivers a powerful combination of live probiotics and prebiotic fiber which work together to help keep your natural flora and digestion balance. This supplement is perfect for someone who doesn’t like taking pills or just simply prefers gummies. 

GET THE BEST PRICE ON OLLY PREBIOTIC + PROBIOTIC

The Nue Co Prebiotic And Probiotic

Prebiotic and Probiotic by The Nue Co

This supplement delivers 15 billion spores per dose and was formulated specifically to help combat symptoms of IBS + long-term digestive issues and to improve your gut health. The best thing about this supplement is that they use spore-based bacteria in their Prebiotic + Probiotic formula. This means the spores lie dormant until they’re “activated” in your small intestine. This means you don’t have to worry about your supplement not working. 

GET THE BEST PRICE ON THE NUE CO PREBIOTIC AND PROBIOTIC

Alternatives To Prebiotics And Probiotics

If you prefer not to take a supplement marketed as an overall prebiotic or probiotic supplement, then your best bet is to eat foods that are rich in either of these. 

Probiotics can be found in fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha, fermented cheeses, and fermented soybean products such as miso, tempeh, and tofu. Keep in mind that fermented foods should not be pasteurized, as this process kills the bacteria.

Prebiotics can be found in many vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains that are high in fiber such as asparagus, leeks, onions, garlic, oats, apples, unripe bananas, chicory root, peas, berries, and more. 

Final Thoughts: Prebiotics Vs. Probiotics

If you are thinking about adding prebiotics or probiotics to your diet, now is a great time to try it out. Prebiotics and probiotics are typically secure and safe supplements to test that carry a variety of benefits with it. If you start taking prebiotics or probiotics and experience any adverse symptoms, contact a medical professional for help. 

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