Prebiotics and Probiotics: How They Differ and Why Your Gut Needs Both

7 minute read

When it comes to health and nutrition, probiotics are usually a common reference. Probiotics have been shown to benefit your digestive processes as well as overall health, which have made them a hot topic of late.

Just as beneficial but not as well-known, prebiotics is also essential to your well-being.

Despite sounding similar, probiotics and prebiotics are different. Both are equally important to your health, however, which is why understanding the difference will help you reach optimal health levels.

Why Bacteria Matter

The bacteria that live in your gut are beneficial and not like the typical bacteria we try to avoid. In fact, your body is made up of more bacteria than cells.

These friendly florae serve as protectors, keeping harmful bacteria and fungi from growing and taking over your gut. By regulating the gut balance, you can maintain optimal and smooth digestion.

In addition to this, your gut bacteria help support immunity by regulating inflammation.

The bacteria in your gut produce vitamin K and short-chain fatty acids, both of which are essential to human health. Vitamin K is required for the synthesis of proteins that are necessary for blood coagulation and bone health.

Short-chain fatty acids feed the cells that line the intestinal wall. Without them, the wall would be weak and permeable to harmful bacteria and viruses and would cause dangerous inflammation.

Just as there is a connection between your health and the health of your gut, the health of your gut bacteria depends on what you eat. A mutual relationship exists in that if you take care of your gut, it will take care of you.

Diets high in fats and sugar are bad for your health because they can actually encourage harmful bacterial strains to grow and take over your gut. Continually eating an unhealthy diet allows these bacteria to colonize, which puts your health at risk.

An unhealthy gut has been linked to serious diseases and health concerns. Most people do not realize how many diseases start with out-of-balance gut microbiome.

The link between gut health and overall health is inflammation, as studies have shown that poor gut health contributes to widespread inflammation and inflammation is a contributing factor to most serious diseases.

Each of the common illnesses below can be easily reversed and treated by addressing the lack of bacterial diversity in your gut:

♦ Autoimmune disorders triggered by inflammation caused by poor gut health, which causes leaky gut syndrome

♦ Mental health is directly impacted by gut health via the gut-brain axis

♦ Heart disease and liver disease risk as a result of inflammation

♦ Diabetes and prediabetes have been linked to microbiome disturbances

In addition to the food you eat, other compounds can upset the delicate bacterial balance in your gut. Our over-reliance on antibiotics allows harmful bacteria to thrive.

While antibiotics do kill harmful strains, they also kill many of the valuable ones living in your gut. As the numbers dwindle, so does your protection against viruses, fungi, and dangerous bacteria.

The good news is that probiotic foods or high-quality supplements are perfect for restoring bacterial balance in your gut. Making a few changes to your diet and adding organic probiotics will keep your gut in balance and prevent any harmful strains from colonizing and making you sick.

Along with more probiotics you want to add prebiotics, too. These will provide your growing beneficial flora with the nutrients they need to keep you healthy.

Different Roles With Multiple Benefits

Probiotics and prebiotics may be quite different from each other, but they work together to maintain gut health and overall health too. The different roles played by probiotics and prebiotics are their key difference.

Probiotics are live bacteria found in food or supplements that add to the bacterial community living in your gut.

By helping to maintain a healthy bacteria balance in your gut, you can achieve efficient digestion, a boosted immune system, and overall good health. These friendly florae are more beneficial when numbers are maintained and when provided with adequate nourishment.

Acquiring bacterial diversity and strength comes from prebiotic nourishment. Prebiotics are substances that come mostly from fiber that you cannot digest, but upon which the bacteria in your gut thrive.

| Related: How This Prebiotic May Protect Against Osteoarthritis |

Most people are familiar with foods that are probiotic, such as yogurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, and miso. When it comes to prebiotics, there is more uncertainty as to what we should be eating.

Outside of supplemental support, there are several highly prebiotic foods you should consider adding to your diet to give your gut bacteria the strength they need to protect you:

♦ Asparagus

♦ Bananas

♦ Berries

♦ Dandelion Greens

♦ Leeks

♦ Legumes

♦ Oats

♦ Onions

Each of these nutritious foods provides you with nutrition and provides your gut bacteria with fiber. Your body is not able to digest prebiotic fibers, but your gut bacteria love it.

In fact, they turn this into a fatty acid known as butyrate. This fatty acid has been proven to provide anti-inflammatory benefits in your digestive tract.

By regularly consuming prebiotics, your gut microbiome can protect you from inflammation and disease.

Prebiotics and Probiotics: The Dynamic Duo

Changing your diet to incorporate more probiotic and prebiotic foods may be easier said than done. A busy schedule may interfere with getting all the nutrition you need each day.

A high-quality, broad-spectrum probiotic supplement is a great way to ensure you get the probiotic support you need to keep your gut healthy. Most gut health supplements include prebiotic fiber too, so you get everything you need, as optimal health depends on the combined benefits of probiotics and prebiotics.  

The Bottom Line

While nothing can replace the nutrition you get from a balanced diet, supplements are helpful for filling in the gaps. When it comes to supplemental support, you always want to choose a clinically tested, doctor-formulated high-quality brand.

A probiotic that includes a diverse selection of bacterial strains along with prebiotics fibers are best. Ultimately, you want to follow a balanced diet, but these are beneficial in a supporting role.

Probiotics and prebiotics are cornerstones of a healthy lifestyle and improved health overall. Understanding how to maximize their benefits can help you in many, many ways.

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