Prebiotics vs. Probiotics

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You would have came across the terms probiotics and prebiotics recently and like many you would have wondered,

What do they mean? what is the similarity between the two? or you might have even confused one for the other.

Today we’ll shed some light on what probiotics and prebiotics are.

What Are Probiotics

Probiotics are the live bacteria inside your gut that help you digest soluble fibers. They provide you with a host of benefits by breaking down the food in your colon.

What Are Prebiotics

Prebiotics are the fuel source for all the probiotic bacteria. Prebiotics are essential for the probiotics to do a good job. Without proper prebiotics we can starve our gut bacteria leading to many issues inside gut.

Benefits Of Probiotics

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Help Balance the amount of friendly bacteria

Probiotics when ingested help promote a healthy bacteria balance of gut bacteria that have been linked to provide a wide range of healthy benefits.

Probiotics are the good bacteria. These are usually found in capsule form when supplementing, Although there are many other forms in which we can consume probiotics. Capsules is usually the most prevalent form.

When ingested these help us restore the natural balance of gut bacteria present in our colon.

Antibiotics, a poor diet or illness can all cause the population of good bacteria to decline. In some situations it can also cause the growth of bad bacteria in our gut.

Probiotics Can Lower “LDL”

LDL (Low-Density Lipoprotein) are also known as bad cholesterol.

Some lactic acid-producing bacteria can help break down bile in the gut. By breaking down bile the probiotics can prevent is from being reabsorbed in the gut and enter blood as cholesterol.

Probiotics Can Help Lower Digestive Disorders

Digestive disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease, crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis is prevalent throughout the world. Certain types of bacteria strains have been shown to improve the symptoms of these disorders.

Probiotics May Help Boost Your Immune System

Around 90% of you immune system is in your gut. Some probiotics may help give you immune system a boost by inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria in the gut.

Probiotics Can Help You Lose Weight

Probiotics help prevent the absorption of fat in the gut. This fat is then excreted through feces instead of being absorbed through the body.

Probiotics can also help you feel fuller for longer. Help you burn more calories and also help you store less fat. All this add to the positive effects of helping you keep your weight in control.

Probiotics Can Help Absorb Vitamins And Minerals

The probiotics metabolize soluble fibers and produce short chain fatty acids(SCFAs). These SCFAs can help increase absorption of minerals like magnesium and calcium.

Research has also shown that Probiotics can cause increased Vitamin D receptor expression.

The acidic conditions that created by producing SCFAs, butyric acid and propionic acid can increase the ionization on minerals.

All these factors help the absorption of many Vitamins and minerals in the gut.

Benefits Of Prebiotics

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Prebiotics when ingested can help feed the gut bacteria. Which helps us with a host if benefits.

Prebiotics can help Improve Digestion

Prebiotics help improve digestion by providing the beneficial bacteria in the gut with non-digestible fibers. Which only the bacteria in the gut can absorb.

By metabolizing these indigestible fibers the gut bacteria produce short chain fatty acids such as butyric acid which help improve the health of intestinal lining.

Prebiotics Help Produce Short Chain Fatty Acids

When SCFAs are produced they can help relieve digestive issues like constipation and diarrhea. They also help regulate electrolyte levels and support regularity.

Prebiotics Help Combat Intestinal Infections

Prebiotics can also help you against certain intestinal infections and chronic disorders like ulcerative colitis, crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome(IBS).

They can also help in preventing leaky gut and inflammatory bowel disease.

Prebiotics Can Help Lower Inflammation

Prebiotics have been shown to lower inflammation which is a root cause for many chronic diseases such as heart disease.

Tests have shown that people using prebiotics have lower inflammation markers than those who don’t have sufficient prebiotic fiber in their diet.

Prebiotics can also help lower the inflammation which can contribute to many other chronic health conditions such as obesity, cancer and diabetes.

Prebiotics Can Help Control Obesity And Diabetes

We can also find evidence that the use of prebiotics and probiotics can contribute to improve the metabolic processes that are linked to diabetes and obesity.

Research shows a healthier gut environment can turn off auto-immune reactions and help metabolize nutrients much more efficiently.

Studies have also shown that increasing the intake of prebiotics can help with weight loss. This data is backed up by both human and animal studies. A higher fiber intake can be directly linked to lower body weight and protection against obesity.

Prebiotics Can Help Regulate Hormone Levels And Mood

This new research of gut-brain axis shows a particular link between gut health and hormonal balance. Although there is a need for a much deeper study into this topic. The links show a healthy microbiome can help regulate mood and hormonal function.

Best Kinds Of Probiotics

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Lactobacillus

The most common kind of probiotic includes lactobacillus. There are lots of different species of this friendly bacteria.

Lactobacillus is used to prevent many health issues like diarrhea, including infectious types of diarrhea such as rotaviral diarrhea in children and travelers diarrhea.

Lactobacillus is also used to prevent and treat diarrhea associated with heavy antibiotic use.

Bifidobacteria

This also one of the most used bacteria in probiotics. Bifidobacteria are most commonly used for diarrhea, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome.

Bifidobacteria can also be used for preventing common cold and flu.

Best Kinds Of Prebiotics

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Digestion Resistant Maltodextrin

Made from corn starch, Digestion resistant maltodextrin (DRM) contains over 90% prebiotics fiber. One of the highest amount of prebiotic by weight. This translates into eating a small amount to fulfil your daily requirements of prebiotics.

We at Nutraxyst swear by DRM for it’s high prebiotic content and use it in chlorofiber for getting the most out of a prebiotic supplement.

Chicory Root

chicory root contains about 65% fiber by weight this makes it an exceptional prebiotic that can be found naturally.

Onions And Garlic

We can find 2 grams of soluble fiber in each 1/2 cup of onions and garlic. Which translates into 17% of prebiotic fiber.

Oatmeal

Although processed, oatmeal also contains 2 grams of prebiotic fiber for every 1/2 cup. Making it a good prebiotic food to add into your breakfast.

Side Effects Of Probiotics

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While most people might not experience any side effects from probiotic use. These are the most commonly reported reactions to probiotics.

Bloating And Gas

Temporary increase in bloating and gas. It is not known exactly what causes these side effects in some people, but these typically subside after a few weeks of continued use.

Headaches

These are caused by biogenic amines. Which are substances formed when protein containing foods are aged or fermented by bacteria.

The most common amines found in probiotic rich foods include phenylethylamine, tryptamine, tyramine and histamine.

Can Increase Histamine Levels

Histamine is a molecule that is naturally produced by our immune system when it detects a threat.

Some bacteria strains used in probiotic supplements can produce histamine inside the gastrointestinal tract.

High levels of histamine can trigger allergy like symptoms, such as itching, watery eyes, runny nose or trouble breathing.

Side Effects Of Prebiotics

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Excessive Gas

If a large amount of prebiotic fiber is ingested, this can provide an abundance of food to a large range of gut bacteria. Which can result in excess of gas in intestines.

This is one of the most common side effect of probiotic use.

A way to side step this problem is by slowly increasing your consumption of prebiotics over time.

Start by adding 2 grams over your normal dosage and increase slowly over a weeks times.

Conclusion

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When it comes to health, both probiotics and prebiotics are necessary ingredients that should be incorporated into your diet.

It is also clear that one cannot work without the other. Just as we humans can’t function well without our friendly gut bacteria.

Try to add some probiotics into your diet once in a while and also try to eat a prebiotic rich diet to help your gut bacteria thrive. Taking these small steps promotes longevity, healthy organ function and can provide a host of other health and emotional benefits.

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