What is the difference between probiotics and prebiotics?

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Probiotics or prebiotics? A letter makes the difference between the two terms, which often confuses consumers. So let’s get to know these tiny elements of our diet a little better!


Prebiotics or Probiotics?

Prebiotics are a kind of fiber that the human body can not digest. Prebiotics are present in foods rich in fibers, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains and are the food of probiotics. In dietary supplements the most commonly used prebiotics are fructooligosaccharides, oligosaccharides, inulin and lactulose.

Likewise, probiotics are symbiotic microorganisms, including bacteria and yeast, that support the health and function of the organism. Probiotics are scattered in our body in the mucous membranes, in the skin, in the mouth, in the vagina, but the intestine is the largest in variety and number colony of them. They are mainly found in fermented foods such as yogurt, pickle, fermented cheese or kefir.


Benefits and actions of probiotics

Gut bacteria participate in food digestion, absorption of nutrients, and many of them produce also vitamins, such as Vitamin K. Although probiotics cannot prevent the onset of illness, their intake can support body health, reduce symptoms and faster recovery.

Many studies have highlighted the role of probiotics in energy metabolism, macronutrients and trace elements. Probiotics can improve digestive health in some people. According to studies, taking probiotics during the use of antibiotics reduces the risk of diarrhea and vaginitis in women.

Bacterial involvement in the immune system is very important as it strengthens the body’s defense, competing with pathogens. A smaller number of studies indicate that probiotics can improve mental health. A review has shown that some probiotics can relieve the symptoms of depression as there is a connection between the gut and the brain. However, further studies are needed to confirm this finding.


Benefits and actions of prebiotics

Prebiotics are components of certain foods that the body cannot digest. They serve as food for bacteria and other beneficial organisms in the intestine. Prebiotics appear naturally in many foods, so most of the people get enough prebiotics from the diet without taking supplements.

Although there is less research on prebiotics, benefits of prebiotics have been linked to the benefits of probiotics. They support a healthy bowel, offering better digestive health and fewer health problems associated with diarrhea, constipation, and antibiotics. Research suggests that prebiotics can benefit the body by increasing calcium and magnesium absorption, supporting the growth of probiotics in the intestine, affecting the rate of absorption of carbohydrates as well as increasing the absorption and bioavailability of nutrients.


In conclusion

Prebiotics and probiotics differ considerably from one another. However, adequate intake and health of “good” bacteria in our gut requires adequate intake of prebiotics. For this reason, many manufacturers of nutritional supplements, along with probiotics, enrich their supplements with prebiotics, to ensure their adequate growth and action.


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