Prebiotics and Probiotics

Truth be told, I had no idea that there was a difference between Prebiotics and Probiotics. I had heard of the term pro-biotics and assumed that it covered the entire range of “good bacteria.” I was therefore pleasantly surprised to learn that there is more to this than just what was obvious on the surface. Probiotics are “good” bacteria that can keep your digestive system healthy by controlling the growth of harmful bacteria. Prebiotics, on the other hand, are carbohydrates that cannot be digested by the body.

Probiotics are live bacteria commonly found in yogurt, kefir or kimchi. Probiotics are delicate and cooking food that contains them can end up killing the friendly bacteria. A prebiotic on the other hand is a plant fiber that acts as food for the probiotics, nourishing them and helping them grow. Since your body does not produce these plant fibers, you need to ingest it to help your probiotic bacteria. Found in many common fruits and vegetables (another reason why you should be eating F & V), they are commonly found in the skin of apple, banana, onions, garlic, and beans. It is recommended that you eat at least 25-40 gms of such fiber each day.

It is the combination of good bacteria or probiotics and real fiber of prebiotics that help you build a healthy gut. Combined, it helps you create a good digestive system which is the root of good health. You may wonder if there is a good time to be eating the prebiotic or probiotic. Research shows that it does not matter when you eat it as long as you eat it consistently at the same time and more importantly on a regular basis. Also, as opposed to supplements, you are better off eating them from naturally available foods such as the ones mentioned in my article. Happy Bacteria to you!


Ritesh is a born again health enthusiast and holds a Certificate in Physiology from Harvard Medical School and a Certificate in Nutrition from Tufts University.