This is a question that we’re often asked. With such similar sounding names, many people assume that probiotics and prebiotics are one and the same, but there is a very subtle difference between them. One refers to the beneficial gut bacteria themselves, the other is the food that they need to thrive. So… which is which?
Probiotics = friendly bacteria
Probiotics the microorganisms – live bacteria and yeasts – that populate the digestive tract and can help support the health of the digestive system.
How can I take probiotics?
Probiotics can be taken as a supplement or through the diet. Foods that are high in probiotics include live yoghurt, sourdough bread and fermented foods such as kimchi, kefir (milk or water), sauerkraut and kombucha. Make sure you look for ‘raw’ on the label as any pasteurisation will destroy the bacteria.
By consuming a couple of spoonfuls, or half a glass each day, we can help boost the numbers of friendly bacteria in our gut. If you’re new to fermented foods but would like to give them a try, our advice is to start with just a teaspoon per day and increase the amount slowly over time.
Supplements can be helpful if you’d rather not include fermented foods in your diet. Look for a research-backed multi-strain friendly bacteria supplement that contains high numbers of commensal bacteria strains that are naturally present in the human gut.
What do prebiotics do?
If probiotics are the bacteria themselves, prebiotics are the food that they eat. There are three types – fructooligosaccharides (FOS), galactooligosaccharides (GOS) and inulin. In addition, a type of starch that is resistant to digestion in the upper part of the digestive tract, known as resistant starch, is classed as a prebiotic.
FOS, making a
Consuming these prebiotics regularly, through foods high in FOS, GOS or inulin, helps to encourage both the quantity and diversity of our microbiota.
As well as providing them with fuel, when the beneficial bacteria feed on these prebiotics, they produce by-products such as short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that have been shown to benefit our health. It’s a win-win situation.
What are the best prebiotic foods?
Foods that are high in prebiotic fibre include chicory, garlic, leeks, onions, green bananas, Jerusalem artichokes and asparagus. cooked and cooled pasta, rice and potatoes which . If these foods don’t form a regular part of your diet, it is also possible to take a supplement containing FOS or GOS to ensure your gut bacteria are well fed.
So you can see that it’s important to include both probiotics and prebiotics (or a supplement) in your diet regularly. Probiotics and prebiotics work together to maintain the health of the gut microbiome.
Find out more about probiotics and prebiotics
Want to know more?
ProVen Probiotics aim to provide the best support for both you and your health. If you wish to know more about gut health and staying healthy please do not hesitate to call us on 01639 825107 or alternatively, learn more via our blogs or in-depth ProVen research.