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Probiotic v/s Prebiotic: What’s the difference and which one is better

Published on:24 July 2021, 14:35pm IST
Many people don’t quite understand the difference between prebiotics and probiotics but it is true that both can work wonders for your gut health.
Grace Bains
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probiotic vs prebiotic
Both prebiotics and probiotics can boost gut health. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Confusing probiotics with prebiotics is probably a normal occurrence for most of us. However, it’s important to understand that both of them impact our gut health in different ways. These gut microorganisms are amongst trillion others, which help aid digestion, absorb nutrients, and boost immunity.

A healthy balance of probiotics and prebiotics will maintain gut health. While probiotics are living bacteria found, prebiotics is derived from carbohydrates, which are consumed by probiotic bacteria in the gut.

What’s the distinction between these two healthy bacteria?
Probiotics

These are good bacteria, naturally found in the body, and derived from various food sources. These living microorganisms provide a range of health benefits for your gut and live in synergy with the other helpful bacteria. Probiotics also help get rid of toxins from the body and kill harmful bacteria by producing natural antibiotics.

gut health
You need both probiotic and prebiotic foods to keep your gut healthy! Image Courtesy: Shutterstock
Prebiotics

Prebiotics are basically the food for probiotics. The sources are majorly carbohydrates and plant fibre. These nutrients could be difficult to digest by the body, but fortunately, the good bacteria in the gut use them as food. They travel undigested, from the small intestine into the colon. Probiotics, then ferment it and consume it for energy.

This is how probiotics are different from prebiotics

1. Constitution: Prebiotics are dietary fibre, while probiotics are the good bacteria that feed on the said fibre. Prebiotics are essentially the fertilizer for generating friendly bacterial colonies in the gut. Prebiotics are not living organisms, and are not affected by conditions such as heat, decay, cold, or acidity, in your gut. An example would be blueberries, a tasty source of prebiotic fibre that does not lose its potency even when frozen. Probiotics, on the other hand, are living microorganisms in the gastric system and may be eliminated on exposure with stomach acid, heat or decay.

2. Health benefits: Probiotics help the digestive system function effectively. They also aid weight loss, improve heart health, and lower blood sugar and blood pressure levels. Probiotics boost your gut’s health and ensure a smooth bowel movement. Prebiotics nourish probiotics in the gut, facilitating the formation of healthy colonies of good bacteria. Being a dietary fibre, they help in the smooth movement of food in your digestive tract.

probiotic and prebiotic
Consuming probiotic and prebiotic foods won’t just be beneficial to your gut health but boost overall health as well. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

3. Food Sources: Fermented foods are a rich source of probiotics. Yoghurt, cheese, paneer are good sources of probiotics. Prebiotics are essentially dietary fibre, and can be found in garlic, onion, oatmeal, barley and apple.

Maintaining and improving gut health is critical for your overall well-being. Remember that prebiotics is the driving blocks for probiotics, as a nourishing source.

So, ensure that you include a lot of probiotics and prebiotic-rich foods in your diet, for better gut health.

Grace Bains Grace Bains

Grace is someone who likes writing enough to make a living out of it. When she isn’t writing, you will find her having chai and reading a book.