What’s the Difference Between Prebiotics and Probiotics and should I be taking them?

July 21, 2018

Prebiotics and Probiotics – What’s The Difference And Why Are They Important?

The Differences between Prebiotics and Probiotics and how you can improve your nutrition for improved health and well-being

Prebiotics and Probiotics are two terms that have become trendy recently. However, many people don’t really understand what they actually are, what makes them different and what role they play in our digestion and gut health.

animation of the anatomy of the digestion tract for gut health with bacteria inside

The Immune system in the digestion tract


The Importance of Gut Health

Gut health is a trending topic right now and it doesn’t seem like there’s any end in sight for its recognition and importance. Probiotics have become very popular. They are expected to continue to rise in popularity throughout 2019, as we decipher and understand more of their benefits related to gut and digestive health, as well as overall well-being.

The majority of our immune system (70-80%) is in our digestive system so having a healthy digestive tract can play a major role in our health and immunity.


What are Probiotics?

Yoghurt with healthy probiotics in a bowl for breakfast

Bacteria that break down food from the digestive system and support the immune system

Probiotics are live bacteria that promote health, found in many foods including yogurt, kefir, miso, sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi, and kombucha. You can also take probiotics through supplementation. Aside from immunity, probiotics may also help with overall mood, reducing cholesterol, preventing cancer and more. These bacteria help us break down our food from the digestive system.  They also extract nutrients so that we can better absorb them. There is still much more research to be done but the benefits are far-reaching.

What are Prebiotics?

Apple, Pears and bananas - rich foods with probiotics and prebiotics

Non-digestible part of foods that fuel Probiotics

Prebiotics are “fuel” for the probiotics. They are indigestible carbohydrates that do not digest in the small intestine. They make it to the colon intact where they are fermented by probiotics. Prebiotics are the substances that probiotics survive on. They are available in many fiber-rich healthy foods, like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Some of the best sources of prebiotics in the diet include garlic, onions, artichokes, asparagus, bananas, oats, wheat bran, and apples. Great reason to be including many of these foods in our diets!

What You Can Do

Both pre- and probiotics play equally important roles in our gut health and overall well-being. We can’t have overall health without one or the other.

Experts suggest getting a variety of probiotics and bacteria in our diets. Hence, relying on one strain of probiotics through supplementation won’t provide you all the wide range of benefits, as different strains offer different health benefits. When buying probiotics, look for a variety of strains and billions of live organisms.

Challenge yourself to add at least one source of prebiotics and/or probiotics to your diet each day, and see how much better you feel.


Discover healthy dishes with the HowUdish App here and include Probiotics and Prebiotics into your diet.