Even though prebiotics and probiotics sound similar, the two play different roles in your health. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria, and prebiotics is food for these bacteria.
Prebiotics are the substances that come from carbs (mostly fiber) that humans can't digest. The good bacteria in your gut eat this fiber.
Prebiotics are specialized plant fibers and act like fertilizers that stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut.
Prebiotics are found in fruits and vegetables, especially those containing complex carbohydrates, such as fiber and resistant starch. These carbs aren't digestible by your body, so they pass through the digestive system to become food for the bacteria and other microbes.
Prebiotic fibers ferment in the colon. The fermentation process produces short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) transported to the liver, muscle, and other tissues and contributed up to eight percent of our daily energy requirement.
Soluble and Insoluble Fiber
Soluble fibers dissolve in water to form a gel-like material that can help lower blood cholesterol and blood glucose. Soluble fibers are found in apples, asparagus, barley, beans, carrots, chicory, citrus fruits, garlic, Jerusalem artichokes, oats, onions, peas, psyllium, soybeans, and wheat.
Insoluble fiber helps move material through the intestinal tract. Insoluble fiber is found in cauliflower, green beans, potatoes, whole wheat flour, and wheat bran.
Probiotics are good bacteria that keep your system in balance by knocking out harmful bacteria that also live in your gut. Suppose you get an infection, the bad bacterial population increases. Probiotics help maintain a neutral internal bacterial balance.
Probiotic microbes live primarily in your gut—more specifically, mostly in your large intestine. The food you eat plays an essential role in the balance of good and bad gut bacteria.
You can find Probiotics in fermented foods, such as sauerkraut or kimchi, fermented buttermilk, and fermented cheese. Other foods like cottage cheese, kombucha, tempeh, and miso soup will help maintain your population of beneficial probiotic microbes.
Benefits of Probiotics:
- Help balance the natural balance of friendly gut bacteria
- Help treat and prevent diarrhea
- Improve anxiety, depression, autism, and memory
- Some probiotic strains can help reduce blood cholesterol
- May reduce allergies and eczema severity
- May reduce the severity of digestive disorders
- Boost the immune system
- Weight loss
Foods or products that contain both prebiotics and probiotics are called synbiotics. Some common initial side effects of starting a synbiotic regimen are gas, constipation, loose stool, loss of appetite, bloating, and acid reflux.
People with chronic diseases or serious illnesses should avoid taking probiotic and prebiotic supplements together unless advised otherwise by a medical professional. A dangerous side effect of probiotics is having an allergic reaction like the development of hives or extreme stomach pain.
Lactose intolerant people should avoid products that contain dairy probiotics. Similarly, If you have a yeast infection, you are advised to avoid probiotics that contain Candida.
If you are on an antibiotic medication, you may benefit from a synbiotic regimen because the synbiotic combination helps combat the loss of healthy gut bacteria killed off by the antibiotic(s).
The relationship of prebiotics to probiotics is synergistic—they work together for our good health. We need both prebiotics and probiotics.