You may have heard a lot of buzz about probiotics lately, but what about prebiotics? What is the difference between these two?
Probiotics are microorganisms (such as lactobacillus) that when consumed, either in a food or a dietary supplement maintains or restores beneficial bacteria to the digestive tract.
On the other hand, by definition, prebiotics are substrates that are selectively utilized by host microorganisms conferring a health benefit. Simply put, prebiotics are what feed & fuel probiotics, and other beneficial microorganisms in our body.
Here is a great article courtesy of Metagenics that offers a thorough yet concise explanation regarding pre- & probiotics as well as when and how they should be used:
Modern practices, such as living and working in overly clean environments and food handling procedures, while are important and even necessary, also have detrimental effects on our health.
Our ancestors would have been exposed to probiotics naturally through exposure from the foods they ate, and contact from their natural outdoor environment. In our modern environment, the need to keep things clean can protect us from highly contagious outbreaks, but also eliminates beneficial bacteria.
Fortunately for us, we can provide our bodies with some of the benefits our ancestors would have received through supplemental pre- or probiotics, or by consuming pre- and probiotic rich foods. Again check out the article for a list of foods that you can include in your diet that would provide these.
As always, it’s important to contact your primary health care provider before starting any new supplements to make sure they are right for you, as well as ensuring they are not going to interact with any other prescription medication or supplements you are already taking.
1. Crouch, W. (2018). Probiotics and prebiotics – should they be used together? Retrieved from: https://blog.metagenics.com/post/2018/10/03/probiotics-and-prebiotics-should-they-be-used-together/
2. Hill C et al. Expert consensus document: The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics consensus statement on the scope and appropriate use of the term probiotic. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2014;11(8):506-14.
3. Probiotic. (2018). Merriam-Webster’s dictionary. Retrieved from: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/probiotic