Prebiotics v. Probiotics

How Prebiotics and Probiotics Work Together

The human body cannot digest prebiotics on its own. Prebiotics serves as food for probiotics, which are tiny living microorganisms, including bacteria and yeast. Both prebiotics and probiotics may support helpful bacteria and other organisms in the gut. These food components help promote beneficial bacteria by providing food and creating an environment where microorganisms can flourish. Prebiotics are present in fiber-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Probiotics occur in many fermented foods including yogurt, kombucha, and sauerkraut.

Benefits of Prebiotics

Prebiotics are a component of some foods that the body cannot digest. They serve as food for bacteria and other beneficial organisms in the gut. The benefits of prebiotics have links to the benefits of probiotics. Prebiotics may support a healthy gut offering better digestive health and fewer antibiotic-related health problems. Some research suggests that prebiotics may improve calcium absorption, changing how quickly the body can process carbohydrates and support the probiotic growth of gut bacteria, enhancing digestion and metabolism.

Benefits of Probiotics

Numerous studies have found that probiotics may improve digestive health. A 2017 Cochrane review found that taking probiotics while using antibiotics reduced the risk of antibiotic-related diarrhea by 60 percent. A smaller body of research suggests that probiotics may also  improve mental health. A 2017 review found that probiotics may alleviate the symptoms of depression, but the authors note that additional studies are necessary to confirm this. It is possible that probiotics have this effect because there is a link between gut and brain health. The authors of a 2017 review of 17 Cochrane reviews considered the evidence supporting the potential benefits of probiotics. They found that probiotics may decrease the need for antibiotics, school absences from colds, the incidence of ventilator-associated pneumonia, gestational diabetes, and eczema.


Villines, Z. (n.d.). Prebiotic vs. probiotic: Differences, benefits, and foods. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323490.php

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