Prebiotic vs probiotic
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The Gut Battle: Understanding the Differences Between Prebiotic vs. Probiotic

In the epic saga of digestive health, these tiny but mighty allies are often hailed as the secret weapons to a happy tummy and a thriving body. But what exactly are prebiotics and probiotics, and how do they duke it out in the arena of gut health supremacy?

We’ve got the information you need.

Read on to learn about prebiotic vs probiotic for your health.

What are Prebiotics? 

Prebiotics are specific varieties of dietary fibers that help promote the growth and activity of healthy bacteria in the gut. Unlike probiotics, which are live beneficial bacteria, prebiotics are non-living materials that serve as food for these beneficial bacteria.

The primary function of prebiotics is to support the growth and activity of probiotics, helping them thrive and exert their positive effects on your general gut health. Prebiotics are not digested or absorbed in the small intestine.

Instead, they pass through to the colon where they are fermented by beneficial bacteria such as Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria.

Types of Prebiotics

There are specific varieties of prebiotics you might want to consider adding to your diet.

Found naturally in some types of foods such as chicory root, garlic, onions, and bananas, inulin is a soluble fiber variety that promotes the growth of bifidobacteria in the gut.

Similar to inulin, fructooligosaccharides are also a type of soluble fiber that occurs naturally in foods like bananas, garlic, and onions. It serves as food for beneficial gut bacteria.

Resistant starch isn’t subject to digestion in your small intestine and reaches your colon intact. Some sources of this type of prebiotics include unripe bananas, cooked and cooled potatoes, and legumes.

What are Probiotics?

Probiotics, unlike prebiotics, are live microorganisms that, when consumed in large enough amounts, help benefit your body’s health. These microorganisms are primarily bacteria, although some types of yeast can also have probiotic properties.

Probiotics are often called “good” or “friendly” bacteria because of their overall beneficial effects on human health, particularly concerning gut health and immunity.

The most commonly studied and used probiotics belong to the genera Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, although other genera such as Saccharomyces are also utilized. Probiotics can be found naturally in certain fermented foods and beverages or added to food products and dietary supplements.

Probiotics work with your body’s immune system, helping to modulate immune responses and enhance the body’s defense mechanisms against pathogens.

These bacteria can compete with and inhibit the growth of dangerous bacteria and yeast in your body. That promotes a more balanced microbial ecosystem.

Probiotics contribute to the strength of the intestinal barrier, which helps limit entry of harmful substances from the gut into the bloodstream.

Benefits of Probiotics

There are tons of health benefits to ensuring your gut microbiome is full of healthy probiotics. 

They play a role in supporting immune system function by promoting the production of antibodies, stimulating immune cells, and enhancing the gut barrier’s integrity. This can reduce your general risk of infections and allergies.

Some strains of probiotics have been shown to be effective with stopping and treating various types of diarrhea, including antibiotic-associated diarrhea and infectious diarrhea.

Certain probiotic strains have anti-inflammatory properties. They may help reduce inflammation in the gut and other parts of the body. This can be beneficial for conditions associated with chronic inflammation. Some examples are inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis, and skin disorders.

Probiotics may contribute to oral health by stopping the growth of harmful bacteria in your mouth, reducing plaque formation, and promoting gum health. This can help prevent ongoing dental problems like cavities, gum disease, and bad breath.

They can help maintain vaginal health. They prevent and treat bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections.

Choosing Prebiotic and Probiotic Foods

Choosing the right prebiotic and probiotic foods is an excellent way to support gut health and overall well-being.

When you’re looking at prebiotic foods, look for high-fiber vegetables. Include plenty of diverse varieties of vegetables in your diet, especially vegetables that are high in soluble fiber such as garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, and artichokes.

Consume fruits that are good sources of prebiotics. These include bananas, apples, berries, and citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits. 

Incorporate legumes like lentils, chickpeas, beans, and peas into your meals for their prebiotic properties. Snack on different types of nuts and seeds like almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, and chia seeds, which are not only nutritious but also provide prebiotic fiber.

Start with yogurt when you’re considering probiotics. Choose plain, unsweetened types of yogurt that include live active cultures to get a good dose of probiotics.

Include fermented vegetables like pickles (naturally fermented, not vinegar-pickled), sauerkraut, and pickled cucumbers in your diet for probiotic benefits.

A common seasoning made from fermented soybeans, miso is a good source of probiotics and adds flavor to soups, marinades, and dressings. 

Getting The Most Out of Prebiotics and Probiotics

To get the most out of prebiotics and probiotics and maximize their health benefits, it’s important to follow certain guidelines and best practices.

Pairing prebiotic foods with probiotic-rich foods or supplements can boost your gut health growth synergistically.

Drink an adequate amount of water throughout the day to support the proper function of prebiotic fibers in the gut and promote optimal digestion.

Avoid overcooking prebiotic-rich foods, as excessive heat can break down the prebiotic fibers. Opt for more gentle types of cooking methods like steaming or sautéing to preserve the prebiotic content.

Opt for probiotic supplements or foods that contain lots of different probiotic strains, since different types may have unique health benefits.

Follow storage instructions for probiotic supplements to maintain their potency. Keep them refrigerated if required, and avoid exposing them to excessive heat or moisture.

If you’re new to consuming prebiotics, start with smaller amounts of prebiotics and gradually add more to your diet to adjust and minimize potential gastrointestinal discomfort.

Pay attention to how your body responds to probiotics. If you experience any unusual symptoms or digestive issues, consult a healthcare professional for guidance.

Prebiotic vs Probiotic: Now You Know

Now that you understand the differences between prebiotic vs probiotic, you’ll be able to make the right health choices for your body.

Ready to start shopping for health products? Check out Canadian Pharmacy Online today.