Prebiotics vs. Probiotics: What’s the Difference?
Probiotics and prebiotics are often confused by many. Although you may hear probiotics a lot from the foods and beverages that you buy in grocery stores, prebiotics are just as important too.
Before we dive into the deeper explanation of how these two differ, probiotics are beneficial bacteria found in foods and supplements. Prebiotics, on the other hand, are the food of probiotics. Both of them play important roles in terms of digestion, gut health, immune system, and other bodily functions.
Prebiotics vs. Probiotics
The gut microbiota or the gut flora, as a whole, performs many vital roles in the body.
Prebiotics are the compounds that come from various types of carbohydrates (mainly fiber) that a human body cannot digest. The beneficial bacteria that is found in the gut is what helps digest this fiber.
Probiotics are live bacteria that can be found in certain food or supplements, which can provide plenty of health benefits.
Eating a balance amount of prebiotics and probiotics will provide your body the right balance of bacteria to keep your gut microbiota healthy and well-functioning.
The food you eat also plays an important role in keeping balance to your good and bad gut bacteria.
If you regularly eat food high in sugar, trans fats, and saturated fats, these can negatively affect the bad bacteria. And if you feed the wrong bacteria, they will grow faster and colonize the gut flora, then there won’t be enough good bacteria to prevent the bad.
Additionally, people that usually have higher body mass index (BMI) are associated with less healthy gut flora, or have more harmful bacteria than good ones.
Foods rich in prebiotics
Prebiotics are types of fiber that can be found in fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Since the human body cannot digest these types of fiber, the good bacteria will do all the work.
The beneficial bacteria turn the prebiotics fiber into short-chain fatty acids (SCFA).
The SCFAs are responsible for maintaining and improving the gut health, as well as acts like a protective barrier against inflammation and colorectal cancer.
That’s why you need to feed your body with sufficient prebiotic fiber to maintain these short-chain fatty acids.
Here are examples of prebiotic-rich foods:
Foods rich in probiotics
There are plenty of foods that are naturally rich in probiotics. The most popular one is the yogurt.
A high-quality plain yogurt is loaded with live cultures that will keep the good bacteria in your gut flora well fed.
Fermented foods make a wonderful option too, since they are rich in beneficial bacteria that naturally thrive from occurring fiber or sugar in the food. Just make sure to choose unpasteurized fermented foods. Because the process of pasteurized foods kill the good bacteria.
Here are foods that are rich in probiotics aside from yogurt:
Probiotic supplements come in liquid, powder, and pill forms that contain live yeast or beneficial bacteria. They help your body digest food, which greatly work for people suffering from digestive issues.
Probiotics supplement helps maintain the right balance of bacteria in your gut flora and prevent the bad bacteria from getting out of control so you won’t get sick. And also stops the bad bacteria from entering your body from that foods you consume.
Some probiotic supplements are formulated to carry the bacteria through the large intestine for optimal effects.
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