A bowl of kimchi, a food source for probiotics

The Difference Between Prebiotics and Probiotics

By | March 11, 2017 | nutrition, wellness

Prebiotic and probiotic. They’re two words you’re probably familiar with, but do you know the difference between the two? Sure, the prefix is a giveaway – one you take before the other. But there is more to it than that. In this article, we will help you understand the difference between prebiotics and probiotics so you can make more informed choices regarding your health.

What is a prebiotic and why do I need it?

Prebiotics are fibrous carbohydrates that cannot be digested by the body. Typically found in plants, these fibers are responsible for nourishing the good bacteria in your gut. Simply put, a prebiotic is food for probiotics. Many health professionals recommend taking a prebiotic daily to help maintain the balance of probiotics in the intestines.

What health conditions may be helped or treated by prebiotics?

Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and pouchitis: Although the research is still in the preliminary stages, experimental evidence suggests that the prebiotics inulin and oligofructose can help to prevent or mitigate inflammatory lesions in these three diseases.

Metabolic syndrome: Prebiotics are thought to play a role in weight management. Metabolic syndrome is typically found in obese individuals. Prebiotics can help treat metabolic syndrome with possible mechanisms that include improved microbial balance, decreased food intake and decreased abdominal adiposity.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): Preliminary research suggests that a low-dose prebiotic may help to improve the symptoms of IBS, including abdominal pain, bloating and constipation.

What are some naturally occurring sources of prebiotics?

  • Legumes
  • Whole wheat products
  • Rye based foods
  • Artichokes
  • Onions
  • Cabbage
  • Garlic

What is a probiotic and why do I need It?

Probiotics are live microorganisms, generally yeast or bacteria, that are good for your health. They work by rebalancing the good and bad bacteria in your gut. Probiotics are also useful for replacing the good bacteria you lose when taking an antibiotic. Medical professionals recommend taking a daily probiotic to maintain optimal health.

What health conditions may be treated by probiotics?

Diarrhea – infectious: Supplementing with the probiotic lactobacilli can help to decrease the duration of infection-related diarrhea by one day. While that might seem insignificant now, anyone who has ever suffered from traveler’s diarrhea (TD) can tell you that one day makes a big difference.

Vaginal health: While further research is needed to verify the results, current studies suggest that probiotics administered either orally or intravaginally can help to prevent colonization and infection related to vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC). Lactobacillus acidophilus, lactobacillus rhamnosus GR-1 and lactobacillus fermentum RC-14 are the most effective probiotics used to treat VVC.

Immunity: Did you know 80% of your immune system is housed in the gut? It’s true. Which is why it’s so important to take care of your intestinal health. Certain strains of probiotics are thought to be immunomodulatory. That means they help to regulate the immune function of your gut. Lactobacillus and bifidobacterium are the most effective for doing so.

What are some naturally occurring sources of probiotics?

  • Yogurt
  • Kefir
  • Sauerkraut
  • Dark chocolate
  • Kimchi
  • Tempeh
  • Kombucha

Supplement with ENHANCE Probiotic

Now that you know the difference between prebiotics and probiotics, it’s time to get to work integrating them into your daily diet. While we always advocate eating whole, healthy, natural foods where you can, adding a supplement to your routine can give you even greater results. Add LFI’s ENHANCE Probiotic to your routine and start reaping the benefits of a healthier, more balanced gut today!

  1. Probiotics and prebiotics in inflammatory bowel disease: microflora ‘on the scope’. (n.d.). Retrieved January 15, 2017, from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2125.2008.03096.x/full
  2. Grover, S., Mallappa, R., Rokana, N., Duary, R., Panwar, H., & Batish, V. (2012). Management of metabolic syndrome through probiotic and prebiotic interventions. Indian Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, 16(1), 20. doi:10.4103/2230-8210.91178
  3. Whelan, K. (2011). Probiotics and prebiotics in the management of irritable bowel syndrome. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, 14(6), 581-587. doi:10.1097/mco.0b013e32834b8082
  4. Hibberd, P. L. (2009). Probiotics for Infectious Diarrhea and Traveler’s Diarrhea – What Do We Really Know? Prebiotics and Probiotics Science and Technology, 845-899. doi:10.1007/978-0-387-79058-9_22
  5. Falagas, M. E. (2006). Probiotics for prevention of recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis: a review. Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, 58(2), 266-272. doi:10.1093/jac/dkl246
  6. Georgieva, M., Georgiev, K., & Dobromirov, P. (2015). Probiotics and Immunity. Immunopathology and Immunomodulation. doi:10.5772/61337

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