Prebiotics? Probiotics? Are they the same? What are they?

November 22, 2013 by  
Filed under Nutrition Tips

Pre and probiotics can be found in just about every food product imaginable these days – but have you ever wondered what they actually are?

Your intestine is populated with literally trillions of bacteria, which we collectively call your flora.  The type of bacteria that make up your flora are determined in part by what you eat.  Both pre and probiotics are designed to help you change the type of bacteria that make up your flora but they do so by different actions.

Probiotics (think yogurt) are actually bacteria that when ingested are meant to ‘crowd’ out the existing bacteria thereby changing the makeup of your flora. Prebiotics (think oat fibre or inulin) on the other hand, are a type of starch that we can’t digest but that the bacteria in your intestine can ‘eat’. Those bacteria capable of ‘eating’ the particular prebiotic then proliferate and ‘crowd’ out many of the other strains of bacteria in your intestine.

So you’re either eating bacteria (probiotics) or feeding bacteria (prebiotics)…now you know ;)