Are Prebiotics Better Than Probiotics?
Christine Chen | My Body
You might already know to keep your tummy healthy by feeding it probiotics – but do you know that you might need prebiotics? Prebiotics aren’t necessarily better than probiotics, but some say it is better to balance both pre and pro for a healthy gut.
Probiotics are supplements and food with active cultures, such as yogurt, kombucha, kefir, and miso to introduce “good” bacteria to your digestive tract. It’s especially important to maintain a healthy intestinal flora in general, but especially when you’re on antibiotics, which kill both bad and good bacteria. Probiotics are said to prevent yeast and urinary infections, speed healing of intestinal infections, and reduce colds and flu severity.
Prebiotics are a specialized plant fiber or substances found bountiful in foods such as asparagus, bananas, oatmeal, garlic, leeks, soybeans, and legumes – though not in large enough quantities to have a big effect, if at all according to the National Institutes of Health. While probiotics introduce, prebiotics fertilize the good bacteria already in your intestines. Think of it as the difference between planting new seeds versus watering existing seeds and plants in your insides.
Prebiotics help existing good bacteria grow for a natural balance that affects your overall health – from your stomach to your brain. A healthy level of prebiotics can help maintain a balance of your probiotics, too, resulting in boosted immunity, overall wellness, less stress, anxiety, depression, and infection. Also, prebiotics are strong enough to live through heat or other bacteria, making them sturdy to support everyday wellness, while probiotics can wane with heat and stomach acids.
With more education and exposure about prebiotics and probiotics, more food producers are starting to add additional amounts of both to items such as yogurt, cereal, health bars, ice cream, water, and breads. You can also get both in supplement form; take care to notice whether they need refrigeration to sustain the live cultures and effectiveness.
Side effects are rare, and most healthy adults can add prebiotics and probiotics to their diet, but it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor before starting any new daily regimen.