Gut health is a popular topic among consumers, as mentioned in our previous blog, The Evolution of Gut Health. At the centre of this conversation is both pre and probiotics, and although you may have frequently heard these terms, it's important to understand the differences, and role they play on maintaining a happy gut.
Derived from Greek, ‘probiotics’ literally translates as ‘for life’ (as opposed to antibiotics which means ‘against life’). Probiotics are “live microorganisms that when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host” (Hill et al., 2014). By consuming probiotics you are adding to the population of good bacteria in your digestive system.
By definition, prebiotics are a substrate that is selectively utilised by host microorganisms conferring a health benefit (Gibson, Glenn R., et al, 2017). Essentially, they stimulate growth among the preexisting good bacteria.
- Chicory Root
In simple terms, probiotics provide the soldiers to your army of good bacteria, while prebiotics give the army they support they need to stay alive.
Tips if you are planning to add pre & probiotics into your diet
1. In the case of probiotics, keep them chilled in a refrigerator, as heat will kill them. No need to worry about this for prebiotics.
2. If you've recently been sick and on antibiotics, taking probiotics after you have recovered is highly recommended. The antibiotics will kill both good and bad bacteria in your gut, so it is worth repopulating after treatment.
3. Consume pre and probiotics from a wide variety of sources as diversity is an important part of a healthy microbiome.
4. Regular consumption is key as the microbiome is not changed forever and the effect of probiotics is only temporary.