If you have found yourself confused about the differences between probiotic and prebiotic supplements, you are not alone. It was not that long ago that the benefits of probiotics were being widely touted in health magazines. Before long, a wide array of new food products containing probiotics were introduced onto the market. These foods, including yogurt, were said to be capable of providing innumerable health benefits, including improved digestive regularity, increased immune health and possibly even weight loss.
Recently; however, some questions have arisen regarding the true benefits of probiotics. There are even now questions regarding whether probiotics are safe to use. These concerns are all related to the differences that exist between probiotic and prebiotic supplements. Although the names might sound quite similar, these supplements are actually quite different.
Within the digestive system, there are two types of bacteria that exist. They are good bacteria and bad bacteria. Probiotics are the good bacteria that exist within the digestive tract. The idea behind probiotic supplements was to increase the levels of good bacteria in the intestines by ingesting them orally. Since probiotics do not exist naturally within any foods, it was necessary to establish an artificial process to create probiotics. This was done through a fermentation process.
Prebiotics do exist naturally and can be found in a number of different types of foods such as raw Jerusalem artichokes, raw onions, unrefined wheat and barley, raw oats, soluble fiber and kiwifruit. In fact, kiwifruit are known to contain extremely large amounts of prebiotics and phenolics. Prebiotics are important to improved digestive and immune health because they encourage the production of good bacteria within the digestive tract while simultaneously eliminating bad bacteria. This is something that probiotics are not capable of doing. The fact that prebiotics are all-natural is another important benefit because there are no concerns related to the dangers associated with the fermentation process used to create synthetic probiotics.
PREbiotics are found naturally in foods, including:
• raw honey
• raw oats
• unrefined barley
• unrefined wheat
• raw Jerusalem artichokes
• raw onions
• soluble fiber
• many others
PREbiotics are demonstrated by many studies showing measurable proof that PREbiotic supplements & foods:
• increase immune performance
• improve mineral absorption
• balance digestive system and bowel pH
• positively affect inflammatory bowel disorders
• prevent and possibly stop early-stage colon cancer*
• reduce the incidence of allergies
• improve heart health
While you could try to consume enough prebiotic containing foods to achieve the same health benefits, this would be extremely difficult to do for many reasons. Primarily, you would need to consume a lot of such foods to attain the minimum level of prebiotics and phenolics. Additionally, there is the fact that the best benefits are contained in the skin of most prebiotic foods, such as kiwifruit. Since the skin is not appetizing or even edible, this presents a conundrum.