Probiotics vs. Prebiotics – What’s the Difference
(Video Version can be found on my Facebook page – Peggy Smith Wellness, February 7, 2019)
I think we are all starting to come to terms with the fact that we are not entirely human. Our human body is like a hotel to trillions of guests – called microbes – that help make us who we are. And just like any hotel guest, microbes need to eat!
These hungry little guys inside us create a micro-ecosystem called the microbiome. And while we could possibly live our entire lives without even really knowing that system is busy at work inside of us, it plays a huge role in how we feel physically and emotionally, how well we perform, not to mention what’s happening when we head into the bathroom!
The healthier our microbiome is, the healthier we are.
The best way to have a healthy microbiome is by inviting a whole diverse population of bacteria (known as probiotics) to stay in your hotel and then feed them things they love to eat (prebiotics). So, in other words prebiotics are food to our probiotics.
A lot of folks will spend a good deal of money on probiotic supplements thinking that is going to make them healthy in and of itself. If you aren’t eating the foods that help your gut bacteria thrive, then you might be throwing a lot of money down the drain – or more appropriately – you might be pooping a lot of money down the toilet!
Prebiotics are specialized plant fibers. They act like fertilizers that stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut.
Prebiotics are found in many fruits and vegetables, especially those that contain complex carbohydrates. These carbs aren’t digested in either the stomach or the small intestine, so they find their way all the down to the large intestine where our bacteria are hanging out just waiting to be fed!
Some common prebiotics are bananas and asparagus, also onions, garlic, artichokes, dandelion greens, oats, flaxseeds and even apples!
Remember – prebiotics don’t contain additional bacteria – they are a source for feeding the bacteria that are already present in your gut.
The word is thrown around a lot on food, drinks, and supplement labels, but it still can cause a great deal of confusion. Here’s an easy way to think of it. Antibiotic means “anti-life,” and probiotic means “pro-life.” Antibiotics kill bacteria, while probiotics are full of live bacteria. Probiotics are living organisms that are beneficial to health when they thrive in adequate amounts in our bodies. Probiotics are bacteria that live in your body naturally and help our bodies perform many functions essential to survival.
A super smart thing to do is to find combinations of foods that have both probiotics and prebiotics present – when you do this you are creating a symbiotic effect! You know how nice it is to travel with a snack close by in case you get hungry – this is what you are doing for your bacteria when you send them down the digestive track with their food right next to them! I’m including a link to some great recipes that combine pre and pro-biotics in one meal!
I hope this helped clear up some confusion you might have when you hear or see these concepts discussed.
If I can be of any further assistance as it relates to your wellness, please let me know!
Until next time friends,
Be WELL –