Prebiotics vs Probiotics: What’s the Difference?

Content Provided by Olipop


What is OLIPOP?

OLIPOP spent years crafting a drink that's as healthy for you as it is delicious. Their sparkling tonic combines prebiotics, plant fiber, & botanicals to create a delicious, healthy soda that supports digestive health. The prebiotics in OLIPOP plays an important role in digestive health. Their prebiotic beverages contain plant fibers that stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut, which improves digestion. More on this below!

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Microbiome Background

Over the course of millions of years, humans have co-evolved with 10 trillion microbial species that call your intestine home. This community of microorganisms, known as the gut microbiome, plays such an essential role in our overall health that it’s referred to as another organ—without it, our bodies simply could not function properly.


The gut microbiome plays a key role in immunity, defense against pathogens, energy metabolism, synthesis of vitamins, and even influences our mood and brain health. The good bacteria that live in our gut also help us digest food components we’re unable to break down by ourselves, mainly dietary fiber. So making sure your microbiome is healthy ensures your body can function at its best.


There are many factors that can influence our gut health—in both positive and negative ways—from exercise to genetics to stress levels. But research shows that our diet is one of the most important factors.


Choosing gut-friendly foods, like those with prebiotics and probiotics, can help support a thriving microbiome, specifically supporting the population of beneficial (or “good”) bacteria that live there.


Prebiotics

Prebiotics are non-digestible plant fibers that support the growth and health of the existing good bacteria living in the human digestive tract. They travel through the digestive system, unbroken by digestive enzymes until they reach the large intestine, where they act as food for your good gut bacteria.


Not all dietary fiber is a prebiotic fiber — to be “prebiotic” the fiber has


to be fermented by gut bacteria and convey a health benefit. Prebiotics are found naturally in foods like onions, garlic, oats, flaxseed, bananas, artichokes, asparagus, and roots such as chicory, Jerusalem artichoke, and cassava.


Probiotics

Probiotics, on the other hand, are live bacteria that confer a benefit to the host (that’s you!). They naturally occur in fermented, unpasteurized foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha. You can also get probiotics from a supplement.


Probiotics add to the population of the existing good bacteria that already live in your gut, supporting their health and helping to crowd out the bad bacteria. Like any live organism, probiotics need to eat, and their food of choice are prebiotics. When probiotics get enough prebiotic food, they multiply and grow to keep bad bacteria at bay.


How to remember which is which

It’s easy to confuse prebiotics and probiotics, but breaking down the words into parts can help you remember which is which. “Pre” means before, “pro” means support, and “biotic” means bacteria. Prebiotics come before the bacteria (the food source for beneficial gut bacteria), probiotics are bacteria that support the health of the microbiome, adding to the community that already lives in your gut.


Another way to remember it is with the one letter that differs between the two. Think of the “e” in prebiotics as the “eats” and the “o” in probiotics as the “organisms.”


Takeaway

For ultimate health, our bodies require both prebiotics and probiotics. They may have different functions, but they work together with the same goal: to support your overall digestive health by ensuring you have the correct balance of bacteria.


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