Probiotics and Prebiotics: What's the Difference?

Probiotic and prebiotic foods are both right at home in a nutrient-dense, gut-healthy diet. But what’s the difference between these two types of foods?


Your gut microbiome may benefit from eating probiotics (healthy bacteria) and prebiotics (nutrients that feed your healthy bacteria). 


While the idea that there are millions of little microorganisms living in your gut might be disconcerting at first, these little guys are your friends! Taking good care of your gut microbiome may support your overall wellness.


There are a number of edible sources of probiotics that you can include in your diet that may support your gut. You may also support your gut health by eating nutrient dense prebiotic foods. Both of these categories of food may support good health!


You can also add probiotics to your diet in the form of a supplement. Probiotic supplements may be great for anyone who doesn’t enjoy the taste of fermented, probiotic-rich foods; they can also be paired with these foods to further support your gut and the overall health.


Probiotic supplements are an excellent source of gut-healthy live cultures, and may offer more of that gut healthy bacteria than a serving of probiotic foods. This is because probiotic supplements contain much higher concentrations of good bacteria than a regular serving of probiotic foods. 


However, an ideal means of supplying your gut with beneficial bacteria is through eating prebiotic and probiotic foods, and combining these foods with a high-quality probiotic supplement.


Why Eat Probiotics and Prebiotics?

One of the main reasons to include these two types of foods in your diet is simple – they may provide you with nutrients! 


Filling your diet with nutrient-dense foods means your body will be getting plenty of macronutrients (carbohydrates, fat, and protein) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) to support you in what you may need for a nutritious diet.


A nutrient-dense diet is great for your gut and digestive system. Even if you are eating foods that do not contain live cultures (i.e. prebiotics instead of probiotics), these foods may still have huge benefits for your gut microbiome. 


Probiotic foods can have numerous benefits for your health and digestive tract, and gut health also may help to support your immune system. Eating plenty of probiotic and prebiotic foods, as well as supplementing with probiotics, may help to support your immune system in functioning properly. A healthy immune system may help your body’s ability to fight off sickness at optimal levels.


There is a lot of evidence behind the benefits of probiotics and prebiotics – both prebiotic supplements and probiotic foods, as well as probiotic supplements, are ways to support your digestive health, which may support overall health!




What Are Some of the Best Dietary Sources of Probiotics?

You can get both probiotics and prebiotics from dietary sources. Some great ways to support your gut microbiome through diet are by eating some of the delicious fermented foods listed below. These foods may help to nourish your gut with beneficial bacteria to support a thriving microbiome:


  • Miso, and Natto. These forms of fermented soybeans may be great for your gut, and they are super tasty too!


  • Kombucha: A fizzy, sweet, fermented beverage, kombucha is another source of probiotics. Filled with beneficial live cultures, kombucha is made by fermenting tea and other natural ingredients, which can provide it with its distinct flavor. Opt for kombucha that is low in sugar – the fermentation process can remove some of the sugar from a batch of kombucha, but some brands of the fermented beverage are sweetened with excessive amounts of added sugar. Stick with a brand of kombucha that contains minimal added sweetness – this fermented drink can taste amazing without too much sugar added to it!


  • Kimchi. This spicy form of fermented cabbage originated in Korea, and has a distinct flavor that some love and others are not big fans of. For those who love kimchi, its spicy, tangy taste and crunchy texture are some of its biggest selling points. 


  • Sauerkraut. Sauerkraut, like kimchi, is made by fermenting cabbage. However, the salty and less spicy taste of sauerkraut is more appealing to some than the spicy flavor of kimchi. Sauerkraut is easier to find on grocery store shelves in the United States than kimchi is. However, many brands of commercial sauerkraut are pasteurized. The pasteurization process kills the beneficial bacteria found in sauerkraut, cancelling out the probiotic benefits. Look for an unpasteurized form of sauerkraut to include in your diet. That way, you’ll get the salty taste, along with plenty of probiotics!



How Do I Include Prebiotics in My Diet?

Eating fermented foods is not the only reliable way to nourish your gut. 


Prebiotic foods – foods that the healthy bacteria in your gut need – may also play a key role in a gut-healthy diet.


Some great ways to provide your gut microbiome with prebiotics are through foods that are a good source of fiber like bananas, spinach, asparagus, oatmeal, and blueberries. These whole foods contain micronutrients – vitamins and minerals that your body and gut may need – and they may promote gut health thanks to their fiber content. Unripe bananas are known as a source of prebiotic fiber to benefit your gut. When bananas are less ripe, they contain resistant starch, which can have prebiotic effects on your gut.


Should I Take A Probiotic Supplement?

While prebiotic and probiotic foods may be excellent for supporting health, probiotic supplements definitely deserve your attention!


The primary reason to include a probiotic supplement in your diet is due to the concentrated nature of supplements. A supplement may provide you with a higher amount of probiotics than a large serving of your favorite fermented food or drink can. 


Life can get hectic, and it’s often tougher to find time to prepare and eat a home cooked meal nonetheless prepare fermented foods that contain probiotics compared to taking a quick and easy supplement. 


Probiotic supplements aren’t just convenient, either – they may also save you money! Probiotic foods can be expensive, and a daily probiotic supplement can cost less over time. 


While food sources of probiotics can still be valuable nutritional assets to include in your daily diet, a supplement is simple, and economical.


How Do I Take A Probiotic Supplement?

MaryRuth’s probiotic supplements come in various forms – you can take them either in liquid form or as capsules! 


liquid supplement can be easier to take for some people, but probiotic capsules are small enough that they may be easy to swallow, even for anyone who isn’t great at taking pills.


Probiotic supplements can be taken daily. Including gut supporting strains of bacteria in your diet in the form of a supplement may help you support your gut health, and MaryRuth’s supplements are easy to include in your daily routine. All MaryRuth’s supplements are vegan, non-GMO, and free of most common allergens.


Our probiotic supplements are perfect for anyone who wants to support their gut microbiome. You can pair a daily MaryRuth’s probiotic supplement with plenty of healthy, nutrient-dense foods to support your gut health.


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