In the prebiotic vs probiotic debate, is there a winner? Actually, no. Both keep your digestive system ticking over with enviable efficiency, but whether you’re taking them in supplement or food form, it’s important to know how they work and the benefits for your gut health.
Your gut microbiome plays a crucial role in your health and whether you could develop chronic diseases, metabolic conditions, or gastrointestinal disorders. According to a study published in Nutrients, the Western diet has profound impacts on your gut flora, and it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach for fixing it.
In fact, a study by the British Medical Journal found that factors like medicine, environment, and weight can all affect the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria balance in your gut, and a tailored approach to your diet and supplementation is your best bet. The good news? Prebiotics and probiotics are readily available and can transform your gut health, sleep, and even your ability to absorb other nutrients.
Our clean and green VitaHustle ONE Superfood Blend contains both prebiotics and probiotics, plus 86 superfoods and essential nutrients, 22 vitamins and minerals, 20g of protein, and adaptogens. Every serve helps to improve your vitality, gut health, and immunity.
Below, we reveal the benefits of prebiotics and probiotics and why they’re an everyday essential ingredient in our super drink.
Prebiotics v Probiotics: What are They?
The Cleveland Clinic describe prebiotics as the ‘food source for your gut’s microorganisms.’ No idea what this means? It’s easier to look at the role of probiotics first.
Probiotics are live microorganisms (good bacteria) in fermented foods (think yogurt or kombucha) and supplements. The catch is that microorganisms need to survive in your stomach acid (post-digestion) to reach your colon. And then they need to survive here, too. If they can, the more you have (and the more variety), the healthier your gut and the better your health.
Going back to prebiotics, they’re the food source for your good bacteria. Again, they need to survive digestion, but when they make it to your colon, the probiotics can ‘metabolize and ferment’ prebiotics to live and thrive. This process has a wealth of benefits for your body.
Benefits of Prebiotics and Probiotics
The good bacteria in your gut help break down food, reduce inflammation in the gut, and therefore improve your immune system. But to keep these little guys alive, prebiotics need to be present in solid numbers – almost like a cheerleader – to ensure the good bugs can thrive over ‘bad’ bugs.
Probiotics can potentially help improve your mood. One study found probiotics can potentially alleviate symptoms of depression, although more research is needed on this.
Another benefit could be for sufferers of the bowel condition IBS. A compelling review of 18 studies found improvements in symptoms of IBS sufferers, although the exact strain of bacteria isn’t yet known.
A benefit of prebiotics is that they make up a component of food that can’t be digested by your body, which means they can serve the good bacteria in your gut instead. Prebiotics help these bacteria to flourish, and the better news? They’re naturally occurring in your food.
According to ISSAP, prebiotics could improve the absorption of nutrients and carbohydrates, too. They recommend around 3g a day and 28g a day of fiber based on a 2,000 kcal diet.
Prebiotic v Probiotic: Where to Find Them
It’s best to obtain prebiotics and probiotics from your diet, but supplements are a great go-to if this isn’t possible or you’re struggling to hit the quantity you need. Plus, the fibers present in nutrient-dense food are perfect for microbes in your gut to feed on. The more diversity, the better for you.
Best Prebiotic Foods:
These can be found in fiber-rich foods, such as:
- Whole grains
Best Probiotic Foods:
As mentioned above, these are present in fermented foods like:
- Certain cheeses
Which is Better?
Neither, and taking them together (referred to as microbiome therapy) could help improve the likelihood of the bacteria reaching the colon.
How to Maximize the Efficacy of your Prebiotics and Probiotics
Half the challenge is ensuring the bacteria can survive stomach acid and make it to your colon. Some research suggests that fat in dairy foods can help the passage of good bacteria to the gut. Taking any supplements in encapsulation form in the morning (while stomach acid PH levels are weaker) and before food is also thought to help safe passage.
Risks and Side Effects
Of course, both are naturally occurring in the foods you consume but there is a risk of adverse side effects for probiotic supplementation in anyone suffering from chronic illnesses and comprised immune systems, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. And the research around both pre and probiotics is still limited.
If you’re unsure whether or not prebiotics and probiotics are suitable for you, always check with your doctor or medical professional before supplementing.
Looking to add more protein to your diet? Try our protein coffee or superfood protein brownies. Our VitaHustle ONE Superfood Blend comes loaded with prebiotics and probiotics alongside plenty of vitamin-rich ingredients.