Probiotics vs Prebiotics: What’s the Difference and Which One Do You Need?

Probiotics vs Prebiotics: What’s the Difference and Which One Do You Need?


In recent years, probiotics and prebiotics have gained popularity as people are becoming more aware of their potential health benefits. However, despite being used interchangeably, they are two different terms. This article aims to explain the difference between the two and help you decide which one you might need.

What are Probiotics?

Probiotics are live microorganisms that offer a variety of health benefits when ingested in adequate amounts. They are found in several food items such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and some types of cheese. You can also take supplements that contain different strains of probiotics.

Health Benefits of Probiotics

Probiotics help in restoring the natural balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut. They prevent the growth of harmful bacteria in your intestines and boosts your immune system. Some other benefits of probiotics include:

  • Relief from diarrhea caused by antibiotics
  • Improved digestive function
  • Reduced risk of colon cancer
  • Management of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Stronger immune system

What are Prebiotics?

Prebiotics are essentially fibers that remain undigested in your gut. They serve as a food source for the bacteria already present in your colon, promoting the growth and activity of healthy gut bacteria. Unlike probiotics, prebiotics are not living organisms and do not get destroyed by heat, cold, or time.

Health Benefits of Prebiotics

Prebiotics have a range of health benefits including:

  • Better digestive health
  • Increased absorption of calcium and other minerals
  • Reduced risk of colon cancer and other gastrointestinal diseases
  • Reduced inflammation throughout the body

What is the Difference Between Probiotics and Prebiotics?

The key difference between the two is that probiotics are live bacteria while prebiotics are indigestible fibers. The former takes an active approach while the latter is more passive. Probiotics work by introducing new bacteria into your gut while prebiotics work by acting as food for the existing gut bacteria.

Which One Do You Need?

The answer depends on your individual needs and lifestyle. For those with gastrointestinal issues or have just completed a course of antibiotics, probiotics may be beneficial in promoting good gut health. On the other hand, those who want to maintain a healthy digestive system may benefit more from prebiotics.

Prebiotics and Probiotics: The Perfect Partnership

Both prebiotics and probiotics play a crucial role in promoting good gut health. While they work differently, they complement each other to promote the growth and activity of good bacteria.

Incorporating both prebiotics and probiotics into your diet can help you tap into the benefits of the perfect partnership. You can add prebiotics to your meals by eating onions, garlic, bananas, apples, and oats. Probiotics, on the other hand, can be obtained from fermented foods like yogurt and kefir or you can opt for supplements.


Both prebiotics and probiotics offer potential health benefits, and incorporating them into your diet can help you tap into their power. Which one you need depends on your individual needs, and a health professional can help you determine the best approach.

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