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Genetic Life

Prebiotics vs. Probiotics - Know the difference

by SEO DIGITAL 23 May 2023


Prebiotics and probiotics play crucial roles in maintaining a healthy gut. Prebiotics are indigestible fibers that feed good bacteria present in our body while probiotics are living micro-organisms that protect us from harmful bacteria. Even though both the terms sound similar, you can explore here the differences between prebiotics and probiotics and how they work to support a healthy gut ecosystem.


Probiotics are made up of many organisms including yeast and bacteria. Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are examples of probiotic bacteria. Saccharomyces Boulardii is a probiotic yeast present in our body.1

Every human being has a different microbiome, made up of microbes. Microbes are like communities, and it includes viruses, bacteria, fungi and protozoa. A probiotic microbe helps in the production of vitamins like K2 and B122, enhances nutrient absorption, and regulates immune function. 

Types of Probiotic 

Not all probiotics are the same. Different strains offer distinct benefits. Certain strains of probiotics have been associated with improved mental health and reduced risk of certain diseases. Increasing the intake of probiotics can also help cure diarrhea, constipation, eczema, UTI, yeast infections, sepsis in infants and many more. So, it's advised to choose probiotic tablets with specific strains that target your desired health outcomes.

Probiotic Foods

Fermented foods are rich in probiotics. They can be sourced from foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi and from supplements as well. Probiotic foods can be consumed at any time of the day. However, to maximize the benefits it is advised to have foods like: 

  • Sourdough bread, yogurt and buttermilk in the morning. 
  • Cottage cheese, tempeh, fermented pickles and kombucha can be consumed during the day. 
  • Miso soup, kimchi and sauerkraut are some good options for dinner. 


Prebiotics are a type of dietary fiber that cannot be digested by the human body. They are basically carbs. Prebiotics act as fuel for probiotics, which are the beneficial bacteria residing in the gastrointestinal tract. 

Types of Prebiotic 

There are many types of prebiotics like Fructans, Galacto-Oligosaccharides, Starch and Glucose-Derived Oligosaccharides and many more.3

Prebiotic Foods

Foods high in fiber are a good source of prebiotics. It is found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Infants get the required prebiotics from sugar present in breast milk. Some excellent prebiotic-rich foods that can be consumed are:

  • Garlic
  • Chickpeas
  • Oats
  • Red Kidney Beans
  • Onion
  • Bananas
  • Asparagus 
  • Flax seeds 

Prebiotics vs. Probiotics: Understanding their Unique Roles in Gut Health


Prebiotics move down the digestive tract and reach the colon without being digested or cracked down. On the other hand, probiotic bacteria break down these dietary fibers. This fermentation process produces short-chain fatty acids like butyrate which provide nourishment to the colon cells. Such fatty acids help maintain the colon Ph level. 


Prebiotics and probiotics help maintain a balanced gut microbiota. Prebiotics stimulate the growth and activity of probiotic bacteria that help strengthen the intestinal barrier and promote optimal digestion. They support immune function and contribute to better digestive health. They do so by helping the probiotic bacteria fight the harmful bacteria. Prebiotics maintain a balanced microbiome which further helps in proper digestion and immunity.


Another significant difference between prebiotics and probiotics is that prebiotics are plant-based food sources whereas probiotics are live strains of organisms present in various parts of the body like the gut, urinary tract, mouth, skin, lungs, and others. 


Probiotic supplements are made by isolating the probiotic bacteria from our body. It is then cultured in the laboratory to make the supplements. One such example of probiotic capsules is Mega Probiotics. On the other hand, raw materials like starch, lactose and sucrose are used to make prebiotic supplements.4

Synbiotics: Combining Prebiotics And Probiotics

While prebiotics and probiotics have distinct roles, they complement each other in supporting gut health. Prebiotics nourishes probiotics, helping them survive and thrive in the gut. By consuming prebiotics, you provide a favorable environment for probiotics to colonize and put out their beneficial effects. Hence, synbiotics help them to work together and support a healthy gut ecosystem.5


People need at least 25 to 35 grams of fiber for the gut bacteria to survive and replicate6. Hence, to optimize your gut health, consider incorporating both prebiotic and probiotic-rich foods into your diet. Moreover, by doing so, you nourish and stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria while introducing live micro-organisms. It directly contributes to a balanced gut ecosystem. Understanding the differences and benefits of prebiotics and probiotics can help you make informed choices to improve your overall well-being.
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