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Digestive Wellness|Fiber Facts|Food & Nutrition

Prebiotics vs. Probiotics: Differences and Benefits

If you’re looking to improve your digestive health, chances are you’ve come across prebiotics and prebiotics. Still not entirely sure about the differences between the two, and which you should take? No worries — we’ll break it down for you.

What are prebiotics?

Prebiotics are types of dietary fiber that act like fertilizer for the good bacteria in your gut microbiome. When the good bacteria in your gut are fed, they pay it forward by producing nutrients that benefit the cells in your colon, promoting digestive health. These nutrients can also get absorbed in the bloodstream, benefiting your metabolic health.

What foods have prebiotics?

There are plenty of foods that can serve as natural sources of prebiotics, such as:

  • Legumes
  • Berries
  • Oats
  • Bananas
  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Asparagus
  • Barley
  • Apples
  • Cocoa beans
  • Flaxseeds
Since prebiotics and probiotics have unique benefits for your digestive—and overall—health, you can incorporate both in your diet in order to maintain a balanced gut microbiome.

You can also take a daily supplement that contains prebiotic fiber, like Bellway’s all-natural supplements. They’re made with psyllium husk, which is a natural source of prebiotic fiber, and contain no artificial ingredients. As you should with any supplement, check with your doctor to make sure it’s right for you before taking it daily.

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are live bacteria that can be found in certain foods. Consumption of these microorganisms has been linked to improvements in digestive and mental health, as well as benefits to overall health. More research is necessary on the effects of probiotics to general health, but studies have linked them to improvements to eczema, vaginal infections, and gestational diabetes, as well as a reduced need for antibiotics.

What foods have probiotics?

You’ve probably heard about yogurts that contain probiotics, but there are other foods that naturally contain these live bacteria, such as:

  • Kombucha
  • Kimchi
  • Sauerkraut
  • Some pickled vegetables

As you’ll notice, these foods are fermented. These kinds of foods tend to have probiotics, provided that they’re not pasteurized.

Also, just like with prebiotics, there are supplements that you can take to increase your intake of probiotics. Since probiotics may have adverse effects for people with Crohn’s disease, weakened immune systems, and some underlying conditions, check with your doctor before starting to take them.

Should I take prebiotics or probiotics?

Both! Since prebiotics and probiotics have unique benefits for your digestive—and overall—health, you can incorporate both in your diet in order to maintain a balanced gut microbiome. Just be sure to get your physician's OK before doing so.

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