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Probiotics and Prebiotics: What's the Difference?

Probiotics and prebiotics are both pretty big topics in nutrition these days. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria, while prebiotics are food for these bacteria. Both prebiotics and probiotics are important for human health. However, they play different roles:

  • Probiotics: These are live bacteria found in certain foods or supplements. They can provide numerous health benefits.
  • Prebiotics: These substances come from types of carbs (mostly fiber) that humans can't digest. The beneficial bacteria in your gut eat this fiber.

The  good bacteria in your digestive tract help protect you from harmful bacteria and fungi. The food you eat plays an important role in the balance of good and bad gut bacteria.

For example, a high-sugar and high-fat diet influences the gut bacteria negatively, allowing harmful species to overgrow. Studies have also shown that antibiotics can cause permanent changes in certain types of bacteria, especially when used in childhood and adolescence. Because antibiotics are widely used, researchers are investigating the effects of antibiotics on the health of individuals.

Prebiotics are naturally found in many foods, such as fruits, vegetables, seeds and grains. Prebiotices, especially in the form of fiber in vegetables. This type of fiber is not digestible by humans, but bacteria in the intestines can digest them.