You may already know about the best probiotics for your health, but what about prebiotics? Although the two words sound similar, they're actually quite a bit different. That said, the best prebiotic supplements can work in conjunction with probiotics to help keep your gut happy and healthy. But first, it's important to understand the difference between probiotics and prebiotics. And remember: Always talk to your doctor before trying any new supplement.
What are prebiotics?
According to the Mayo Clinic, prebiotics refer to specialized plant fibers that can stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut. Prebiotics include many high-fiber foods, especially those with lots of complex carbs. Since these types of carbs can't be digested by your body, they essentially become food for the healthy bacteria in your body instead. The list of prebiotic foods is a long one, but the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics lists fruits and veggies such as bananas, onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, artichokes, and soybeans as a few examples to potentially add to your diet. Prebiotics are also available as dietary supplements — much like probiotics.
How do prebiotics and probiotics work together?
Unlike prebiotics, probiotics contain live organisms — such as specific strains of bacteria — that add to the "good" microbes in your gut. Considering that healthy yogurt is made with good bacteria, it's no wonder why this snack is a good source of probiotics, as opposed to prebiotics. (Psst: For the dairy-averse, some other examples of probiotic foods include sauerkraut and kimchi.) Experts say that while probiotics can help maintain and improve your good gut bacteria, prebiotics can assist with balancing all these beneficial microorganisms. Talk about a team effort!
If you suspect that you're not getting enough prebiotics in your diet, prebiotic supplements might be a possible solution. With your health practitioner's OK, you can work to set up your plan of probiotic and prebiotic supplements to benefit your body. After all, a healthier gut means a healthier you — and that's always a great thing!
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