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Prebiotics vs. Probiotics – What’s the Difference?

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When it comes to gut health, two buzzwords outshine all the others — prebiotics and probiotics. Found in foods, drinks, and supplements, these two forms of fiber are the key to maintaining a healthy gut system. However, because people should use them together, it can get tricky to understand what makes them different.

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What to Know about Prebiotics

Prebiotics are a type of fiber our bodies can’t digest. Their goal is to fuel probiotics. Prebiotics are naturally-occurring bacteria in fruits and veggies, such as onions and bananas.

Benefits of Prebiotics

Because prebiotics is a food for probiotics, there’s very little research around them. Scientists are not sure about the little evidence out there supporting any benefits of prebiotics.

  • May help improve calcium absorption.
  • It can play a role in how our body processes carbs.
  • May support probiotic growth.

Side Effects of Prebiotics

Like most of their benefits, knowledge about the side effects of prebiotics are still in its infancy. Very little research point out to any adverse reactions to prebiotics. Although, most medical professionals recommend people with chronic conditions to stay clear of prebiotics without discussing with their doctors. However, so far, no evidence says mixing prebiotics with probiotics can be harmful.

What to Know About Probiotics

Probiotics are living microorganisms in our bodies. They work by improving your gut’s microbiota, also known as flora. Probiotics are easy to find in fermented foods such as kimchi and non-dairy yogurt.

Benefits of Probiotics

Many health benefits come from ingesting probiotics daily. From overall health, mental health, and digestive health, prebiotics is a critical component of your wellbeing.

  • May help reduce antibiotic-related diarrhea.
  • It can help alleviate symptoms of depression.
  • May help improve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.
  • It can help reduce the risk of gestational diabetes, eczema, and vaginal infections.

Side Effects of Probiotics

Even too much of a good thing can become a bad thing. Some reports believe people with Crohn’s disease can experience adverse symptoms when taking a specific probiotic. Other reports suggest people with underlying conditions should stay away from probiotics. Overall, researchers think more studies need to happen to verify the claims probiotic companies are making, as effects from long-term use of probiotics are still unknown.

Supplements vs. Natural Foods

As with many other supplements, the question always comes up. Why take a supplement when I can get prebiotics and probiotics from my diet? While this is a valid question, most people don’t meet the recommended daily requirements from their foods alone.

For example, the recommended dietary fiber intake per day is between 25 and 30 grams, from foods, not supplements. The average American barely reaches 15 grams of dietary fiber through their meals. The same happens with other vitamins and minerals.

So, if you know for a fact that your choice of foods won’t reach the recommendations, adding a supplement can help safeguard your health.

A Note from GR8NESS

The research around prebiotics and probiotics is still ongoing. Remember to speak with your doctor before you incorporate any new supplement into your regimen. Even if you bulk your intake of foods rich in prebiotics and probiotics in your diet, your body might respond adversely to these changes. It’s best to double-check with a medical professional to ensure your health remains in GR8 shape.

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Stephany
GR8NESS Writer
Stephany is a GR8NESS Contributing Editor who writes about pet care, CBD, stress, self care, meditation, time management, brain training, and natural remedies with a focus on the science behind it all. She has three dogs, three cats, walks half marathons, and practices yoga and powerlifting. You can often find her training her dogs or experimenting with new flavors in the kitchen.
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