Prebiotic and probiotic are terms you’ve likely seen in articles or advertising. But what exactly are prebiotics and probiotics? Do you need to choose one or the other? Is a supplement required, or can you get them from your diet? What are they even good for? Follow this guide for everything you need to know about probiotics and prebiotics.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that live in your digestive system. These bacteria help break down food to create energy for your body, boost your immune system, and have also shown benefits for other body systems.
What is prebiotics?
In a nutshell, prebiotics is food for probiotics. Prebiotics are found in fibrous foods that our digestive tract cannot break down.
Should I take probiotics, prebiotics, or both?
Probiotics will not work without prebiotics. You should always take probiotics and prebiotics together. Choose foods or a supplement that supplies both.
What foods contain probiotics?
Some foods you can eat to supplement your digestive system with probiotics include:
- Gouda, mozzarella, cheddar, or cottage cheeses
- Kombucha tea
- Unpasteurized pickles
- Pickled vegetables
- Traditional buttermilk (not cultured)
- Other fermented foods
What foods contain prebiotics?
Since prebiotics are found in fiber, vegetables, fruits, and legumes have lots of them. Give your probiotics the energy they need to do their jobs with a healthy dose of prebiotics from foods such as:
- Chicory root
Should I take a probiotic or prebiotic supplement?
If you eat a healthy, balanced diet full of probiotic and prebiotic rich foods, you will have no need for supplementation. However, we don’t always eat as healthy as we should. For some people, probiotic and prebiotic supplementation is the most convenient way to achieve optimal gut health. Always take probiotic and prebiotic supplements together, as they work synergistically to keep your GI and immune system strong. Do your due diligence before purchasing any supplement. Not all probiotic or prebiotic strains are equally beneficial, so a little research into a product is required. Purchase a third-party verified brand from a reputable retailer to avoid quality issues.
If you’re still confused about probiotics and prebiotics — or just want some guidance on diet or supplementation — call St. Petersburg’s premier internist, Dr. Kavita Rao, M.D. Dr. Rao and her team can give you all the information you need to make smart decisions about your health. For medical care focused on “Excellence and Compassionate Care”, call (727) 525-0900 to schedule an appointment.