Probiotics and prebiotics are hot subjects in the nutrition world right now. Despite their similarity in sound, the two perform distinct roles in your health. Probiotics are good bacteria, and prebiotics are the good bacteria’s nourishment.
But what are they exactly and how do they work?
Prebiotics are plant fibers that have been modified to act as prebiotics. They serve as fertilizers in the stomach, encouraging the growth of beneficial microorganisms.
Many fruits and vegetables include prebiotics, especially those that contain complex carbohydrates like fiber and resistant starch. Because these carbs can’t be digested by your body, they travel through your digestive system and become food for bacteria and other germs.
Foods that are high in prebiotic fiber include:
Probiotics differ from other supplements in that they include living organisms, usually specific strains of bacteria, that contribute to the population of beneficial bacteria in your gut.
Probiotics, like prebiotics, can be consumed through food and supplements. Yogurt is probably the most popular probiotic food. Yogurt is manufactured by fermenting milk with microorganisms that are then left in the finished product. Probiotics can also be found in bacteria-fermented foods like:
- Kombucha tea
- Some types of pickles
Live organisms are also present in probiotic supplements. A single dosage may contain a single microbe strain or a mixture of microorganisms. Probiotic supplement companies, like prebiotic supplement companies, target specific ailments like irritable bowel syndrome.
Prebiotics and probiotics operate together. Prebiotics are living probiotics’ breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and they can enhance gut health. Including health-promoting functional foods — such as those that include both prebiotics and probiotics — in your diet will help you become healthier.