Prebiotics vs. Probiotics --> What's the difference?
by Kiki Athanas
November 20, 2017
Our awareness and understanding of probiotics have certainly come a long way in the past decade thanks to some exciting scientific research studies, as well as all of the mainstream media attention that has followed. From probiotic rich foods, beverages, and of course, supplements (whether it be a capsule or powder) - today's modern health nut is well-versed on the importance of probiotics.
Prebiotics, though, not so much glorious attention....
Fact of the matter is, BOTH are equally important for proper microbiome therapy.
Have I lost you yet?
Okay, allow me to simplify things so that we're all in equal understanding. You deserve to hold the knowledge and power to nourish your gut for the better. A happy microbiome = a happy life, so I suggest you read on...
What are Probiotics?
Living bacteria in your body that help you digest food (1). Our society used to have this weird obsession with overly "cleaning out" our intestines (with things like probiotics) that have worked to kill the necessary GOOD bacteria in our bodies. These bacteria help us thrive. It's exciting to now be in a "probiotic revolution" of sorts, as the fascination and advocacy around probiotics has certainly hit the mainstream big time!
What are Prebiotics?
Essentially, a form of dietary fibre. Think of it as the food to help probiotics function properly. It's gut bacteria food (ibid). The most common and recognizable source is that of inulin (found in chicory root, bananas, and asparagus) but it's also in other types of foods like legumes.
Some foods even have both probiotics + prebiotics - kefir is one example (and one of my favourites, if you can get your hands on a local, organic and RAW kind...which is unfortunately difficult!).
While prebiotics aren't super beneficial on their own (actually, science shows not at all), they are extremely powerful and a necessary element for the effectiveness of probiotics. Hence, you need BOTH!
What's the "Microbiome"?
EVERYTHING! It is the ecosystem of your gut - the entire collection of microbes that live in and on the human body (2). If there's one thing you should treat extra kindly in your body, it's this guy...
How to Tend to the Garden of Your Gut Microbiome:
I recently learned all about nourishing the oh-so-important microbiome from the incredibly knowledgable team at Genuine Health, and they shared some exciting new products that will help you start feeling great from the inside out (literally).
If you've just started taking a probiotic and are wondering why you're still not feeling "optimal", you may want to take a closer look at your diet - are you feeding those probiotics with enough prebiotic fuel to keep them happy and working efficiently in your body? Prebiotics LOVE polyphenols and micronutrients (and you should too!) so supplementing your diet with these is key to getting the most out of your supplement regime - and life overall!
Here's my recommendation:
- Take a probiotic. Seriously, this is a blanket statement and piece of advice EVERYONE should take.
Ensure your diet is full of nourishing prebiotics. Sometimes, regular old food just isn't enough - or is too complex to manage in order to get enough from, so I like to add in things like:
- Bulletproof Coffee. Coffee is the densest source of polyphenols in the Western diet (3), so if you're a fan of this fabulous beverage - no excuse not to drink up!
- Greens+ ORGINAL. I add this powder whenever I possibly can to things like coconut yogurt, my veggie-based smoothie bowls, and even make "fat bomb" snacks with it. The research behind adding this into your dietary regime over the longterm is phenomenol (read more here). It tastes great and I seriously notice the difference when I DON'T take it, which signals to me just how powerful this stuff is!
- Sprouts & Microgreens. I pick these up from my local Whole Foods on the weekly. It's fun to try a new variety to switch things up, and they're easy to top off just about any meal - or to throw into a smoothie/bowl.
If you want to learn more about how you can get your microbiome working as happy and healthy as ever, I have an exciting announcement coming soon on a summit that will be launching as brought to you in partnership with The University of Toronto and Genuine Health. I'll share the deats as soon as they're ready to disclose ;)