Prebiotics vs Probiotics

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Digest
Prebiotic vs. Probiotic
Both prebiotics and probiotics support gut health, but one of them may be more beneficial in the long run.

You’ve probably heard the words prebitoic and probiotic thrown around recently. Both of these words became more mainstream as gut health found its rightful place in the health and wellness scene. That’s because prebiotics and probiotics are essential to good gut health, and good gut health is essential to overall health.

Loads of products contain pre- and probiotics:

  • Supplements and pills
  • Bananas 
  • Yogurt 
  • Sauerkraut
  • Some granola bars
  • Some new sodas

Because so many different items contain prebiotics and probiotics, it can be difficult to see the connection. I mean, what do granola bars and sauerkraut have in common?

In this article, we’ll learn the difference between prebiotics and probiotics, why they’re so important, and which one is most important to overall health. 

Prebiotics

Prebiotics are food for our good gut bacteria; they nourish the gut bacteria that already exist and help it not just grow, but thrive. 

Think of it this way: if our gut bacteria are “seeds,” prebiotics are the essential “water” that grows and nourishes those seeds, allowing them to become big, leafy plants and flowers. Read more here.

Prebiotics and Fiber 

Prebiotics are a form of soluble fiber, which is an indigestible fiber found in plants. Soluble fiber arrives to your colon intact and then begins to interact and ferment with your gut bacteria. This fermentation is crucial to your good gut bacteria because it allows them to eat and be nourished.  

Put simply: soluble fiber = a prebiotic = a gut bacteria feast

Where to Find Prebiotics

Prebiotic fiber is found in some foods you may already be eating:

  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Asparagus
  • Bananas 
  • Oatmeal
  • And more!

If you’re having digestive issues or find it difficult to incorporate prebiotic foods into your diet (we get it, onions and garlic at every meal is stinky), I recommend finding the right supplement for you or trying out Mayawell’s delicious and healthy prebiotic soda.

Probiotics

Probiotics are live bacteria we introduce into our gut. These new bacteria join our existing gut bacteria and they live alongside each other, hopefully reaching some kind of a healthy balance. 

Probiotics can be particularly helpful if you’ve recently been on antibiotic medication. Antibiotics kill all bacteria in your body — both good and bad. This helps you recover from sickness, but it also means that your body needs to rebuild afterward. Taking probiotic supplements or eating probiotic-rich foods can help your body restore itself more quickly. 

Where to Find Probiotics

Probiotics, like prebiotics, are also found in many foods you may already be eating:

  • Yogurt
  • Kombucha
  • Sauerkraut
  • Some soft cheeses
  • Sourdough bread
  • Fermented items, such as pickles and kimchi

However, you can also consume probiotic supplements to give your gut a boost if you’re having digestive issues. 

Which One Is More Important?

We all have competing priorities, especially when it comes to health:

  • Exercise!
  • Eat veggies!
  • Meditate! 
  • More green juice!

That’s why it’s necessary to prioritize and ensure we’re practicing the most helpful behaviors, most of the time. Though both pre- and probiotics are helpful, I argue prebiotics are more helpful. 

Think of it this way: you can keep introducing new gut bacteria every day, but if you don’t feed them they’ll keep dying and you’ll need to keep introducing more. Your gut microbiome won’t become self-sustaining.

Let’s go back to our garden analogy:

  • Gut bacteria are the seeds
  • Prebiotics are the necessary water

We can then imagine probiotics are new seeds we’re planting. 

We can keep planting new seeds, which may sprout, but without regular water, those seeds will never flourish into big, beautiful plants. Yes, new seeds are important! But without water, we never see the benefits.

Easy Ways to Add Prebiotics to Your Diet

There are a few simple and effective ways to add prebiotics to your diet. Making these small changes can make a big impact on your overall health:

Start with Breakfast

Eat a breakfast high in soluble fiber, that way you won’t have to worry about fiber for the rest of the day. Check out this article for easy and delicious recipes, and try these tasty breakfast muffins high in prebiotic fiber.

Enhance Your Favorite Meals

Add prebiotic veggies to your favorite meals (even smoothies!). This will add an extra kick of fiber to the meals you already eat and enjoy.

Drink Your Prebiotics

Drink your prebiotics with Maywell’s healthy prebiotics sodas. With 20% of your daily value of fiber in each can, it’s the easiest and most delicious way to keep your gut health on track.