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Prebiotic vs. Probiotic: What's the Difference?

By    |   Monday, 02 May 2016 04:14 PM

Prebiotics and probiotics play an important role in healthy digestion, but what is a prebiotic vs. a probiotic and which do you need?

A probiotic, or good bacteria, encourages healthy digestion by keeping the growth of harmful bacteria at bay, says WebMD. A prebiotic is the byproduct of indigestible carbohydrates, which becomes food for the probiotics.

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According to Mayo Clinic, when prebiotics and probiotics are combined they have a synbiotic relationship, meaning they work together: Probiotics feed off of prebiotics in order to create healthy bacteria for the digestive system.

The live cultures in probiotics create a healthy gut environment, which can increase immunity, treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), possibly prevent certain types of allergies, and decrease uncomfortable symptoms of lactose intolerance, writes dietitian Jackie Newgent at EatRight.org, the website for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Mayo Clinic explains that probiotics, with the help of prebiotics, can help prevent and treat vaginal yeast infections, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, intestinal infections, and prevent or decrease the symptoms of cold and flu viruses.

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Though prebiotics and probiotics can be consumed in supplement form, Newgent recommends obtaining these “nutrition boosters” from natural food sources.

Kristi King, dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, tells Newgent that people should focus on food sources first. Prebiotic food sources, according to King, include bananas, onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, artichokes, soybeans, and whole-wheat foods. Probiotic food sources include fermented dairy (yogurt, kefir, aged cheeses), as well as kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, and soy drinks.

There aren’t any food sources that contain both prebiotics and probiotics; however, supplements are available. To keep the gut balanced with the right amount of good and harmful bacteria, WebMD suggests adding both prebiotics and probiotics to a healthy diet.

It's important to seek the advice of a medical or nutrition professional before introducing a prebiotic and probiotic regimen, especially for people with weakened immune systems or GI disorders.

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Prebiotics and probiotics play an important role in healthy digestion, but what is a prebiotic vs. a probiotic and which do you need?
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Monday, 02 May 2016 04:14 PM
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