They sound similar and can be the source of confusion, although there’s only one letter of difference, whilst they are both beneficial, probiotics and prebiotics are not the same and work in different ways.
Probiotics are microorganisms that are beneficial to the body. Taking a probiotic supplement like DR Ohhira’s, Probiotics, Dr Mercola Complete Probiotics 70 billiom CFU, or eating foods rich in probiotics – like yogurt, kefir, kombucha tea, kimchi, sauerkraut, soy milk, tempeh and a whole host of fermented vegetables even pickles – can help promote the digestive system’s good bacteria.
Poor diets, stressful lifestyles, smoking, alcohol consumption, antibiotic use and infections can upset and deplete the balance of healthy bacteria in the gut. Probiotics can provide a boost to this balance, and have been shown to help digestive issues such as gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, yeast infections and other health issues, and they may even boost brain function.
Just like probiotics, prebiotics aren’t a food but they’re found in various foods. We can think of prebiotics as the fuel or foods that probiotics’ thrive on. Prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates found in fibrous foods. When combined with probiotics, the two become known as a synbiotic, which is a characteristic of foods that have both good bacteria and the fuel to keep them going. Kefir and some yogurts are considered symbiotic.
Prebiotics are found in a limited number of foods, including raw onions and leeks, Jerusalem artichokes, whole grains like raw oatmeal, barley and wheat, and they can be found in other fruits and vegetables in very small amounts. Cooking ed onions, leeks and artichokes have lesser quantities of prebiotics but are often more palatable when cooked. If you think you need a prebiotics to maximize the benefits of probiotics but do not eat enough foods containing prebiotics, there are supplements available. Try Bimuno Prebiotic powder, which comes in sachets or Bio-Kult – Advanced Multi-Strain Formula which has the benefit of being both pre and pro-biotic or if you aren’t too worried about a big name then you can’t go wrong with Probiotic Max – High Strength