Prebiotics vs. Probiotics: What’s the Difference?
The World of Probiotics and Prebiotics
Ten years ago, not too many people had heard of probiotics or prebiotics. Yogurt took up a shelf or two at the grocery store; sauerkraut only belonged on the occasional hot dog; and if your health-crazed friend said “Kombucha?” you were more likely to say “bless you” than “yes, please.”While more people are now familiar with the idea of probiotics and prebiotics, there might still be some confusion over the difference between the two. (No, they cannot be used interchangeably. Yes, you need both.)Today, we’re taking a deep-dive into the world of probiotics and prebiotics: what they are, how they work, why you need them, and, perhaps most importantly, how you can get them
Your Gut Health and Microbiome
We have come a long way in understanding the
importance of the gut. As more and more research has come out about gut health
and the gut microbiome, we’ve learned that the gut can contribute to your
overall health. A balanced gut is a happy gut. A balanced gut contains the
right amounts of beneficial bacteria to balance out naturally occurring bad
bacteria. These good bacteria serve a variety of functions, including
protecting your gut from harmful viruses or fungi, keeping your immune system
strong, and forming short-chain fatty acids. If your gut is out of balance, on
the other hand, you may have what is called dysbiosis.Some of the common
symptoms of dysbiosis are:
Gas after meals·
can occur for any number of reasons (diet, stress, poor sleep, or antibiotics,
to name a few), and can occur at varying levels of intensity. But no matter
where it came from or how bad it is, it’s no fun to live with.
The Gut-Brain Connection
a healthy gut lead to a healthy body overall. But dysbiosis can also have a
negative impact on your mood, because of something called the gut-brain axis.
The gut-brain axis is, essentially, the connection between your gut and your
mind. This connection happens through several different bodily systems,
including neural, endocrine, immune, and humoral.2 Because of these
connections, the state of your gut could have an effect on the state of your
mood, including feelings of stress.3In short, keeping your gut healthy isn’t
just a matter of physical health, it’s one of mental health, too. Getting your
gut in balance may help relieve the symptoms of dysbiosis, including feelings
of stress and anxiety, so you can live a happier, healthier life. That is where
probiotics and prebiotics come in. But what exactly are they?
What are Probiotics?!
Probiotics are live bacteria that are good for your gut. They
are a natural occurrence in your body but taking in more probiotics means that
there will be more good bacteria in your gut to counteract the harmful bacteria
that are striving to take over. This helps to balance your gut flora so that
your gut is healthier (and so are you). Generally, what we know as probiotics
are bacteria from two main genera: Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Probiotic
strains from these groups are beneficial when it comes to reducing bloating and
occasional constipation, but can also help strengthen the immune system and
boost your mood. If you’re wanting to add more probiotics into your diet,
you’re in luck: there are plenty of foods that naturally contain probiotics,
often because the process of fermentation encourages the growth of live
bacteria (tasty, right?).
Here are some foods to add to your diet that pack a
powerful probiotic punch:
Tempeh: Fermented soybean cakes with plenty of protein and other nutrientsPickles & pickled vegetables: Pickles” are typically pickled cucumbers, but almost any vegetable (or fruit) can be put through the fermentation process of “pickling.”Kimchi:
The “Korean Superfood,” this is usually a spicy pickled cabbage that is chock full of nutrients (and probiotics)Yogurt:
Yogurt is basically fermented milk, and often contains live bacterial strains Kombucha:
Fermented tea that is slightly fizzy and sweet, containing good doses of polyphenols, beneficial acids, and probiotics. Sauerkraut:
Translates to “sour cabbage.” A great source of probiotics (often better than yogurt), and also a great source of vitamin C. Miso:A condiment made from fermented soybeans, this is often used to make sauces or soups.Sourdough bread:
Often considered a “healthier” bread option, due to the lactic acid which is good for the gut. Kefir:Another form of fermented milk; can contain more than 40 strains of beneficial bacteria, along with many other vitamins and minerals.Kvass: A drink made from bread or beets; the fermentation process produces probiotics that make this a gut-friendly option.
Probiotics in foods can be killed by heat or
passage of time, so if you’re trying to take in more probiotics through your
diet, make sure that the foods or products have been prepared in such a way
that you’ll still get the full probiotic benefit from them. One important note
here is that pasteurization kills the bacteria, also killing the benefits you
would have gotten, so look for non-pasteurized options. Probiotics are clearly
important when it comes to keeping your gut healthy, but how can you make sure
the probiotics have what they need to do their job properly? We are glad you
What are Prebiotics?
Prebiotics put very simply, are food for
probiotics. They feed the probiotics, helping them to grow and flourish in the
gut. Put a little less simply: prebiotics are a type of dietary fiber, made up
of carbohydrates. Your body actually cannot digest these carbs, but the
bacteria in your gut can. In this way, prebiotics act as a type of fertilizer,
stimulating and promoting the growth of good gut bacteria.5(Put a lot less
simply: prebiotics include fructooligosaccharides and galactooligosaccharides.
But we will not go there.) Just as there are foods that are good sources of
probiotics, there are foods that give you a hearty dose of prebiotics.
A Mediterranean plant that contains a good source of vitamins and minerals that help combat digestive issues. Garlic: Rich in flavor with prebiotic benefits that help feed good gut bacteria and may have an impact on bone and heart health.Leeks: Contain a prebiotic that may have antioxidant properties.Wheat bran: The second main food crop for humans that has antioxidants and fiber that contribute to gastrointestinal health.Bananas: Did you know pre-ripe and overripe bananas may have the most health benefits?Legumes: Foods like split peas, kidney beans, and soybeans which have a high protein content, making them a popular meat replacement.Apples:
Packed with prebiotics and polyphenols, both of which are important for a healthy gut.Cocoa:
Has natural prebiotic health benefits when it contains flavanols; whereas commercial “chocolate” has added sugar and fats.
prebiotics themselves do not do anything for your body, per se, they aren’t
really useful without probiotics to pair them with, just as fertilizer wouldn’t
be beneficial without plants to feed. But as long as they have plenty of
probiotics to nourish, prebiotics can play a big role in helping that good
bacteria thrive in your gut.
If you’re looking at the list of probiotic and
prebiotic foods and thinking, “Help! I can’t eat all that!” we totally get it. It
is not easy to include all the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables in
your daily meals. In fact, one survey revealed that only 27 percent of adults
consumed the recommended number of servings of vegetables every day (3); 29
percent got the recommended servings of fruit (2), and only 9 percent had
both. This is why supplements are often a vital part of making sure your gut
stays healthy and balanced. Supplements can give you probiotics and/or
prebiotics in one convenient serving. As is the case with most nutritional
supplements, not all probiotic and prebiotic supplements are created equal.
When looking for the perfect probiotic, look for an option that contains
multiple strains of active bacteria, with at least 1 billion CFUs (colony
forming units), but preferably much more. It seems like a lot but considering
that there are trillions of bacteria in your gut, a billion is just a drop in
the bucket. VitalBiomeTM is a product that checks all the
boxes—and then some—when it comes to giving your body the probiotics it needs.
VitalBiome contains 20 billion CFU at the time of manufacture, and it contains
eight different, clinically demonstrated strains of beneficial bacteria.
Combined, these bacteria work to help reduce gastrointestinal issues like gas
and bloating, reduce feelings of stress, improve mood, stabilize stress
hormones, promote relaxation, and support a healthy immune system.* ◊Another key feature of VitalBiome is that it uses
delayed-release capsules, which allow the beneficial bacteria to survive their
journey through the digestive tract. That, plus the gluten-free, vegetarian,
non-GMO formula all adds up to one powerhouse probiotic supplement. Looking for
a prebiotic partner for all those good probiotics? Slim® contains a clinically studied prebiotic that serves as the
ideal meal for that beneficial bacteria. Combined with VitalBiome, you’re
giving your gut its best chance at staying balanced and healthy. * ♢♢
Your Gut Health and Microbiome
Whether you’ve never thought about gut health
before, or you’ve been making your own kefir for years, now is the time to give
your gut what it needs to be truly healthy. If you’re experiencing any of the
symptoms of dysbiosis, or you just want to stay ahead in the gut-health game,
use what you’ve learned about probiotics and prebiotics to make smart choices
when it comes to food and supplements. Chances are that gut health could be the
key to unlocking a happier, healthier you.
Disclaimers: *These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug
Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or
prevent any disease. The results of an in
vitro human gut simulator study suggest that VitalBiome’s formula may have
several beneficial effects. Further research, including research conducted in
humans, is needed to confirm these preliminary findings. ♢♢ The results of an in vitro human gut
simulator study suggest that Slim’s formula may have several beneficial
effects. Further research, including research conducted in humans, is needed to
confirm these preliminary findings.