What is the Difference Between Prebiotics and Probiotics?
The little choices you make each and every day go a long way towards supporting your current and future health.
If you’re looking for ways to up your health game, you may have heard about prebiotics and probiotics. These compounds can nurture your gut health and, in turn, help you build a holistic health routine. So, what is the difference between prebiotics and probiotics exactly? Our experts are here to explain the different types of probiotics. To help you on your wellness journey, we’ll introduce you to the world of the gut microbiota and break down the differences between prebiotics and probiotics.
Gut Health 101
Whether you call it your gut, GI tract, or gastrointestinal tract, your gut is a complex internal system. A key part of the digestive system, the gut includes the stomach, the intestines, and the other organs responsible for moving food through your body.
Imagine your gut as the world’s most populated city because the gastrointestinal tract houses about 38 billion bacteria. There, this dynamic population of microorganisms thrives, supporting your body by maintaining the balance of your immune system and metabolic processes. Good bacteria are the citizens of this city, and they defend your body against outsiders—pathogens, like bad bacteria, that could make you ill.
This city started growing when you were just a baby. Since then, it has continued to grow, its bacterial citizens multiplying as you support it with your diet. Enter prebiotics and probiotics. Each of these can help support your gut microbiota. Let’s look more closely at each and their similarities and differences and how they affect your gut microbiome.
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit to the person who takes them. A good quality probiotic needs to meet certain criteria:
You can also purchase probiotic supplements. These can be made from bacteria and yeasts, including:
These supplements are available in drinks, probiotic capsules, pills, and powders. Bio-K+® offers both capsules and drinkable premium probiotic products, allowing you to choose the most convenient way to support your gut health.
Basically, probiotics are professionally good bacteria that are hard at work inside your gut keeping you healthy while helping to keep the amount of harmful bacteria down.
What Are Prebiotics?
Whereas probiotics are living bacteria, prebiotics are the substrate that good bacteria in the gut utilizes as food. Prebiotics can either be a fiber or not. Most commonly, they are a special type of plant fibers found in the complex carbohydrates of vegetables and whole grains. . Your body can’t digest prebiotics. Instead, good bacteria in the intestines feed on them. As a result, these prebiotics support your gut microbiota by nourishing its good bacteria.
Prebiotics are the food that probiotics use to keep themselves alive and provide benefits.
As with probiotics, prebiotics are also available in the form of both foods and supplements. You can find prebiotics in popular foods such as:
- Chicory roots
- Jerusalem artichoke
Prebiotics, Probiotics, and Your Health
Now that you know your prebiotics from your probiotics, let’s look more closely at how they can benefit your health.
Health Benefits of Prebiotics
The health benefits of prebiotics are numerous. In particular, areas of impact include:
Disease treatment and prevention – Certain studies have found that prebiotics like fiber can help to prevent or manage heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer.
- Digestion – Prebiotics and fiber create larger and softer stools that move through the intestinal tract more quickly, making your bathroom schedule more standard and less stressful and ultimately reducing constipation.
Weight – Some studies have found that people who eat more fiber weigh less. In these studies, an increase in fiber intake was inversely associated with a decrease in calorie intake. Fiber also influences appetite by making you feel fuller faster.
Health Benefits of Probiotics
Likewise, there are numerous health benefits to probiotics in key areas such as:
Disease management and prevention – There is evidence to support probiotic’s efficacy in managing a variety of diseases including digestive diseases, infections, and other conditions such as lactose intolerance and eczema. There are even certain studies that support probiotics’ ability to benefit oral health .
- Immune support – Research has shown that probiotics can support immune system function through multiple mechanisms of action, allowing them to potentially help treat allergies and viral infections. There’s even some evidence that probiotics could enhance the body’s natural response to vaccines.
- Inflammation reduction – By supporting your immune system, probiotics can help to prevent or reduce inflammation. In particular, certain studies have identified that probiotics can improve inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, and multiple sclerosis.
Other Benefits – Additional research suggests a wide range of other potential benefits from probiotics such as post-antibiotic gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea.
Current and future research is expanding to consider how probiotics might be able to help manage conditions such acne or mental illnesses. While we don’t have specific evidence for these possibilities yet, probiotics certainly have many more secrets to share with us as we continue to uncover just how interconnected our gut is with our overall health.
Manage Your Gut Health
By now, you’re hopefully intrigued by the possibilities of prebiotics and probiotics present. If helping to support your gut and digestive health is a priority for you, then Bio-K+® products can be used in your healthy lifestyle, helping support your gut and digestive health.
We offer premium probiotic supplements in the form of both capsules and drinkables. Access convenient, high-quality probiotics and rediscover your own health and happiness.
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