Prebiotics and Probiotics – What’s the difference?

The symbiotic relationship between pre and probiotics in your body promotes a healthy environment for bacterial diversity in your stomach. 
Image sourced from Flore

Gone are the days when taking a daily multivitamin took care of your everyday nutritional needs. With lifestyle related disorders on the rise, managing your health requires a deeper understanding of your symptoms while incorporating a personalized diet that supports your fitness goals. Since blood panel tests are no longer a true indicator of nutritional deficiencies, how does one stay ahead of the curve?

Harness the power of an integrated DNA + Gut Microbiome test to gain access to precise wellness insights that are backed by decades of scientific research. Our research shows that genetic and gut differences among individuals directly impact dietary requirements. Whether you are intolerant to certain foods, looking to understand their behavioural tendencies or want to offset potential health risks, a comprehensive wellness profile that covers over 100 health conditions can help you make informed choices. 

Before we dive further into the world of precision wellness, let’s take a look at the two new supplements that have been making the headlines in the health industry – Prebiotics and Probiotics.   


PREBIOTICS V/S PROBIOTICS

Foods that promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria are essentially prebiotics. These are non-digestible ingredients that work like fodder for your gut microbes (microorganisms responsible for your body’s immune response). Probiotics, on the other hand, are live bacteria that offer a health benefit like offering to help restore the gut microbiome.

Think of your body as a garden. You’d want to cultivate plants that bloom into flowers, or at least manage to stay healthy. Probiotics are akin to rich fertile soil (full of nutrients and healthy microbes) that help you grow healthy plants. Whereas prebiotics work like a fertilizer for your garden, keeping the pesky pests at bay! The two always work together.

But in reality, our body is made up of trillions of microscopic organisms that line our intestines and digestive tract. These microorganisms (also called gut microbiome) are the gatekeepers of our body’s immunity. When the diversity of microbes alters (more bad guys vs good guys), we start to witness health related problems. Therefore, prebiotics and probiotics offer incredible health benefits by improving your overall gut health. 


Prebiotics, Probiotics and Gut Health

The gut microbiome is made up of trillions of microbes that are responsible for several important functions in our body like:

  • Promoting resilient brain functioning
  • Breaking down carbohydrates and other foods
  • Making hormones, proteins and vitamins
  • Maintaining the gut lining
  • Regulating your mood 
  • Balancing your body’s immune response
What qualifies as probiotics?

Many of the microorganisms that naturally exist in our body are also found in probiotic foods, drinks and dietary supplements. Probiotic bacteria like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are found in foods like yogurt, kefir and kimchi which help maintain order in the gut microbiome. They help balance acidity and deter harmful bacteria from colonising your gut. However not all fermented foods and drinks qualify as probiotics. For a food to be considered a probiotic, there should be sufficient living bacteria that are beneficial and survive the food processing. Probiotics are also found in dietary supplements and are added to other foods and beverages like granola bars, protein shakes and fruit juices. 

What qualifies as prebiotics?

Prebiotics are food components that are used by the host microbes. Many prebiotics are found in high-fibre foods such as vegetables and fruits which aren’t easily digested by the human digestive enzymes. These make their way into the large intestine where they are broken down by the gut bacteria. Essentially, prebiotics work as food for our gut microbes, making them the driving force of your immunity levels. 

Ok, but what’s the correlation between gut microbes and prebiotics?

Prebiotics are food components that are used by the host microbes. Many prebiotics are found in high-fibre foods such as vegetables and fruits which aren’t easily digested by the human digestive enzymes. These make their way into the large intestine where they are broken down by the gut bacteria. Essentially, prebiotics work as food for our gut microbes, making them the driving force of your immunity levels. 

When gut microbes metabolize these prebiotics, some produce short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) like butyrate and acetate. These SCFAs nourish the body’s cells that line your body’s gastrointestinal tract. 

This helps:

  • Reduce the risk of developing cancerous cells in the colon or rectum 
  • Enhances calcium absorption
  • Relieves of constipation and diarrhoea 

These short chain fatty acids also enter the bloodstream and work as signals to communicate with the brain in regulating the body’s inflammation and immunity levels. 

Plant based or high fibre diets usually have high levels of bacteria. These foods have an increased capacity to ferment prebiotic fibre which leads to increased levels of SCFAs, contributing to improved overall health. 

While the benefits of pre and probiotics are sure aplenty, it isn’t exactly advisable to pop any that appeals to you. Consulting your general physician or setting up a one-on-one discussion with Navipoint Health’s certified dieticians is certainly recommended. Research shows that some probiotic supplements, despite being tested for safety before going into the market, have been associated with cases of infection in immuno-compromised patients.

Food List – Prebiotics and Probiotics

PROBIOTICS

Miso Soup
Kimchi
Kombucha
Kefir
Unpasteurized Pickled Vegetables
Yogurt
Fermented Buttermilk
Fermented Cheese like Gouda

Since probiotics don’t occur naturally in a lot of food groups, look for foods that contain Galactooligosaccharides, Fructooligosaccharides, Oligofructose, Chicory fiber or Inulin. 

PREBIOTICS

Banana
Onion
Garlic
Berries
Legumes
Beans
Peas
Oats
Leeks
Apple skin
Asparagus
Artichokes
Cocoa
Tomatoes
Oats

Side-effects of Prebiotics & Probiotics

There may have been an incident when your doctor prescribed you probiotics alongside a course of antibiotics. Healthcare practitioners often do this to offset the negative effects of antibiotics on your gut microbiome. While probiotics introduce beneficial bacteria into your gut that helps restore balance, sometimes the effect can be quite the opposite. This is usually witnessed in cases where the patients are immuno-compromised. Some of the most common side-effects when starting a course of prebiotics or probiotics are – 

  • Digestive issues like gas, bloating or diarrhoea 
  • Skin problems like rash or itching
  • Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth

Besides the aforementioned, those with allergies or intolerance for gluten, soy, eggs, dairy, or lactose may need to exercise caution when choosing probiotics. Therefore, when it comes to choosing the right one for you, our team at Navipoint Health can help. The optimal dosage varies depending on a person’s current health, genetics and gut microbiome composition. Click here to set up your free on-on-one consultation with a certified dietician.


Get access to scientific insights about your body:
  • Guidance on gut health management and improved digestive functioning
  • Detailed meal plan and food recommendations
  • Insights about your hormones, vitamin, mineral, antioxidant and fat levels
  • Understand your skeletal muscle composition, sports performance, bone density health and exercise response
  • Reduce risk of neuropsychiatric imbalances
  • Free one-on-one consultation with a certified personal health coach
  • Health and wellness reports customized your Gut Microbiome and DNA

To order your Navipoint Health home testing kit, visit www.navipointhealth.com  

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *