Digestive

Probiotics and Prebiotics: What’s the Difference?

Probiotics and prebiotics work together synergistically to help maintain and repair the delicate balance that is the gut microbiota. The gut microbiota is vital to one’s health and when it is out of whack individuals can experience constipation, bloating, diarrhea, and other serious conditions.

These little helpers can combat these issues, but how do they work exactly? Where can they be found?   

What are Probiotics?

They are living microorganism like bacteria and yeast often referred to as “good” bacteria that work to balance or ameliorate the gut microbiota. They possess the ability to work in the gut and have the potential to boost immunity and gastrointestinal health. For some, probiotics can also assist with the management of symptoms caused by irritable bowl syndrome.

Probiotic Rich-Foods:

  • Kefir
  • Kombucha
  • Pickles
  • Kimchi
  • Miso

What are Prebiotics?

Prebiotics are naturally found in fiber-rich foods and essentially are the food source of the “good” bacteria that comprises our gut microbiota. Some studies have found that they can also boost gastrointestinal and immune health.

Prebiotic Rich-Foods:

  • Jerusalem artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Garlic
  • Leeks
  • Onion
  • Bananas
  • Wheat

The Bottom Line:

Maintaining a balance in the gut microbiota health is extremely important. An imbalance of bacteria and yeast can affect gastrointestinal health, immune health and can lead to a great deal of discomfort. Probiotics and prebiotics are helpers that can potentially balance and bring harmony to your gut.

Although these helpers can be found in supplements they are naturally found in many foods. You could pair kefir or other yogurts with something like banana for breakfast or kimchi with and asparagus dish for dinner! The possibilities are endless but remember to always speak with your healthcare providers before taking any supplements and to ensure you are consuming what is best for you!

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6463098/

https://www.eatright.org/food/vitamins-and-supplements/nutrient-rich-foods/prebiotics-and-probiotics-creating-a-healthier-you

https://www.mayoclinic.org/prebiotics-probiotics-and-your-health/art-20390058

Written by: Hillaris Pozo, Dietetic Intern, Lehman College

Reviewed by: Nazirber Maduro, RDN, CDN, CDCES

Nazirber Maduro, RDN, CDN, CDCES

Nazirber Maduro is a bilingual registered dietitian and nutritionist who believes that healthy and delicious food should be enjoyed at any stage in life. She helps people transform the way they eat and find joy in food through the practice of food and lifestyle medicine.

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