What’s the difference between prebiotics & probiotics?

Published May 16, 2017

While they sound very similar and are often confused, prebiotics and probiotics are not the same, although they both help to enhance the growth of healthy bacteria in the body and aid healthy digestion.

Probiotics are types of ‘living’ friendly bacteria similar to those that inhabit our digestive tract. They are naturally found in cultured or fermented foods such as yoghurt, buttermilk, aged cheese, sauerkraut, sourdough bread, miso, tempeh and kombucha a type of fermented tea and can also be taken in supplement form. Probiotics help to maintain healthy levels of good bacteria in the intestines, they support our immune defences, are useful for anyone suffering from the uncomfortable symptoms of bloating, gas or flatulence and may assist in decreasing the duration of diarrhoea in kids. They may also help to restore good bacteria after a course of antibiotics. There are many different types of probiotics and each behaves a little differently. You might be familiar with lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidibacterium lactis, which are often found in yoghurt.

Prebiotics are ‘non‐living’ food ingredients that reach the large intestine unaffected by digestion, and ‘feed’ the good bacteria in our gut helping them to grow and flourish. Prebiotics such as fructooligosaccharides (FOS) and galacto‐oligosaccharides (GOS) are naturally found in many foods including:

  • Legumes
  • Whole wheat products
  • Rye based foods
  • Artichokes
  • Onions
  • Cabbage
  • Garlic and
  • Chicory root which contains inulin

Having a combination of prebiotic and probiotic rich foods and topping up with a supplement if needed can help our bodies maintain a healthy balance of good bacteria and support health and wellbeing. They may be especially beneficial for active growing bodies to support their developing digestive and immune systems and to help relieve tummy troubles such as diarrhoea.

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