What’s the Difference Between Prebiotics and Probiotics?

A healthy immune system regulates inflammation and defends our bodies against harmful invaders like germs and viruses. We now know that the population of good bacteria in our gut lining makes up a significantly large part of the immune system. Both prebiotics and probiotic supplements are necessary for optimal gut bacteria health; we investigate the differences between them.

What You Feed Your Gut Bacteria Matters

The gut contains both good and bad bacteria. In order to achieve optimal immune system strength, your good gut bacteria must be able to not only grow but colonize easily. Feed your gut the wrong food, and the growth and colonization of bad bacteria will occur in it, resulting in imbalances in the gut microbiome and causing weight gain and other health problems to develop.

Prebiotic vs. Probiotic

Prebiotics are, essentially, healthy foods for your good gut bacteria. They are specialized plant fibers that can be found in foods like bananas, asparagus, berries, legumes, garlic, and onions. This is by no means an exhaustive list; there are many prebiotic-containing foods out there.


Prebiotics can be thought of as gut fertilizers. Our bodies can’t digest this fiber, which is also unaffected by stomach acid or heat, but these are good things because this allows prebiotics to reach good gut bacteria, which can then break it down and ingest it. Ultimately, ingesting prebiotics will help the body process carbs more efficiently, achieve better calcium absorption, and even relieve the symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Onions and garlic isolated on white


Probiotics are the name for the good bacteria that live in our gut. These organisms can be introduced to the gut via certain foods or with probiotic supplements. Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, pickles, and aged cheese contain probiotics.  Some foods, like fermented sauerkraut, contain both the prebiotic plant fiber and probiotic organisms. These foods are said to be synbiotic. Beneficial probiotic bacteria include Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus.

How to Know Which One You Need

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There are over 1,000 species of gut bacteria, and each kind is responsible for the health of a certain area of the body. For example, if you suffer from digestion problems or irritable bowel syndrome, Bifidobacteria, which live in the stomach and intestines, may benefit from both pre- and probiotic supplementation.

Of course, this is just one example; a qualified health practitioner can provide much information on which particular strains of bacteria may offer the most benefit for your individual needs.

Gut bacteria are sensitive to things like stress and diets that are high in fats and sugars. If you’ve been experiencing a lot of stress recently or have been turning more to comfort food than usual, a daily dose of probiotic supplements can benefit you. This is also true during cold and flu season. The best thing to do is to start small to ensure your body can get accustomed to it.

Forrest Health pro- and prebiotic products are designed to deliver high-quality nourishment for optimal gut health. Explore our innovative products today; call 408-354-4262.

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