Prebiotic, Probiotic, or Synbiotic?

Many wonder but few ask, what’s the difference between pre and pro-biotics? Simply put, probiotics are the good bacteria in your gut and prebiotics are food for probiotics.  

Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut or intestinal tract.  The most common prebiotics are lactose, galactoglucomannans, fructooligosaccharide (FOS), and inulin.  Prebiotics are found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. 

Benefits of PREbiotics:

  • increased good bacteria in the gut
  • increased absorption of calcium and magnesium
  • improved bone density
  • improved blood sugar control
  • better weight and appetite control
  • relief of inflammatory bowel disease (IBS – Crohn’s disease & Ulcerative Colitis)
  • decreased risk of intestinal cancers
  • lower blood triglyceride levels
  • reduced risk of intestinal polyps
  • improved bowel regularity
  • reduced Leaky Gut Syndrome (abnormal leakage of bacteria through the intestinal wall)

Probiotics, as defined by Parker (1974) are “organisms and substances which contribute to intestinal microbial balance” and bestow health benefits upon the host.  Probiotics are found in yogurt (with live, active cultures), sauerkraut, and kimchi.  If you choose yogurt for your probiotic, choose organic due to the hormone and pesticide content of non-organic milk. 

Benefits of PRObiotics:

  • treatment of diarrhea
  • prevention of antibiotic-associated diarrhea
  • decrease inflammation
  • improved symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome
  • used in treatment of C.difficile bacteria
  • treatment of Crohn’s disease (IBD)

Synbiotics are supplements that contain both prebiotics and probiotics.  When taking a supplement, it is recommended to have both pre and probiotics because they work together to ensure that your gut has enough healthy, beneficial bacteria it needs.

The more you learn about pre and probiotics, the more value you will see for your health.   

References: (1) Jackson GI Medical; (2) World Health Organization; (3) Green Med Info