What’s the Difference Between Prebiotics and Probiotics?

Most people don’t have any understanding about the difference between prebiotics and probiotics. But you should know that both these options can work wonders for your gut health.

Confusion about the difference between probiotic and probiotic is a natural occurrence. But, before you choose any of these healthy options, it is advisable to know the difference. Both these items affect your gut health in different ways. Our gut has trillions of microorganisms that help in digestions, absorption of nutrients, and boosting the immunity of our body.

A good balance of probiotics and prebiotics can be highly beneficial in maintaining gut health. While probiotics are living bacteria, prebiotics are derived from carbohydrates that are consumed by probiotic bacteria in our gut.


What is probiotic?

Probiotics are the good bacteria that are found naturally in our body. These are derived from different food sources. These living microorganisms offer a number of health benefits to our guts and they live in synergy with other beneficial bacteria in our body. Probiotics helps our body in getting rid of toxins from the body and also kills harmful bacteria by producing natural antibiotics.

What are prebiotics?

Prebiotics are mainly the food for probiotics. These are carbohydrates and plant fiber. These nutrients are difficult to digest in our body. But, the good bacteria in our gut use them as their food. Prebiotics travels undigested from the small intestine to the colon. They ferment after that and then people consume it for energy.

How are probiotics different from prebiotics?

Difference in constituents

The main difference between probiotics and prebiotics is that they are different in constituents. Prebiotics are the dietary fibre, while probiotics are the good bacteria that eats on prebiotics, the prebiotics are the fertilizer that generates and increases the number of friendly bacteria in our gut.

Prebiotics are not living organisms and they are not affected by conditions like heat, decay, cold, and acidity in our gut. The best example would be blueberries. It is one of the most delicious sources of prebiotic that does not lose its potential benefits, even when it is frozen. The probiotics on the other hand are the living organism that stays in our gastric system and are eliminated when the stomach is exposed to stomach acid, heat, and decay.

Difference in health benefits

There is also a difference in the health benefits that prebiotics and probiotics offer, probiotics helps our digestive system in working effectively. They help us in weight loss, improved heart health, and lowers blood sugar and blood pressure level.

Probiotics boosts the gut health and ensures smooth bowel movement. Prebiotics nourishes probiotics in our gut and facilitates the formation of healthy gut bacteria. Being a dietary fiber, they also help us in smooth movement of food in the digestive tract.

Difference in source

There are also differences in the food sources when it comes to prebiotics and probiotics.

Food that are rich in prebiotics

Before you visit the market to get expensive probiotic supplements, following are some of the food items that are rich in prebiotics:

  • Legumes, nuts, beans, and peas
  • Oats
  • Bananas
  • Berries
  • Asparagus
  • Dandelion greens
  • Garlic
  • Leeks
  • Onions

The healthy gut bacteria turns prebiotics fiber into a short chain fatty acid named butyrate. As per many studies butyrate production in the colon can’t be maintained without adequate intake of prebiotic fiber.

Food that are rich in probiotic

There are many food items that are rich in probiotics. They contain helpful bacteria like yogurt. A good quality plain yogurt with live cultures can be a great addition to your diet if you want to add beneficial bacteria.

Fermented foods are also a great option as they contain healthy bacteria.

Some of the best food items rich in probiotics include:

  • Sauerkraut
  • Kimchi
  • Kefir (dairy as well as non-dairy)
  • Some type of pickles
  • Pickled vegetables

When you are going to eat fermented food for the benefits of probiotics, make sure that they are pasteurized.

Some of the food items can also be considered synbiotics in that they contain both beneficial bacteria and prebiotic source of fiber for the bacteria.


Keeping gut bacteria balanced is important for many aspects of your health. To do this, try to eat food that is rich in prebiotics and probiotics. This way, your gut will have an ideal balance of good bacteria and bad bacteria.

Talk to your healthcare provider to be sure that you are eating the right amount of each of these items. It is also advisable not to go overboard as it can have significant negative impact. If you are choosing supplements for getting prebiotics and probiotics, make sure to read the labels and also consult your healthcare service provider to get additional details.

We hope this article will help you in getting adequate information about the difference between prebiotic and probiotics. Let us know if you need more details.

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