84 Burnett St Bundaberg

Probiotics VS Prebiotics – Which Is Best For Your Gut Health?


When it comes to gut health, there are two big players that come up – probiotics and prebiotics. But what’s the difference between the two (other than a single letter!) and how do they influence your health?  

Let’s explore these two options and which is best for supporting a healthy, happy gut. 

What are probiotics? 

Put simply, probiotics are microbes that provide us some kind of health benefit when we consume an adequate dose of them. You may also see fermented foods referred to as probiotic foods. Some common fermented food options include: 

  • Yoghurt with live cultures 
  • Milk kefir 
  • Water kefir 
  • Kombucha 
  • Kimchi 
  • Sauerkraut 
  • Pickled vegetables 
  • Tempeh 
  • Miso 
  • Natto 

You may also see probiotic supplements in your local supermarket or health food store. These supplements may be capsules, tablets or a powder form. 

The important thing to remember is that not all probiotic supplements are equal. Different strains offer different mechanisms of action and therefore different benefits. And just because a probiotic supplement has a lot of strains doesn’t mean it will definitely be beneficial for your specific concern! 

Probiotic supplements may also make some people feel worse rather than better. For example, people with small intestinal bacterial overgrowth or SIBO may feel worse on probiotics. In this case, it’s best to work with a qualified professional who can prescribe the specific strains to help with your SIBO. 

What are prebiotics? 

Prebiotics are like fuel for good bacteria. They are a specific group of dietary fibres that feed the good bugs in your digestive tract. The microbes can then convert it into short-chain fatty acids such as butyrate, which helps to reduce inflammation and support gut healing. 

Some common foods that are rich in prebiotic fibres are: 

  • Bananas (particularly green or unripe) 
  • Onions and garlic 
  • Leek 
  • Asparagus 
  • Apples and pears 
  • Berries 
  • Oats 
  • Beans and legumes 

Prebiotics can also be consumed in a supplement form. These may be single ingredient such as green banana flour or may combine prebiotics with other beneficial ingredients and nutrients. 

Which is best for supporting your gut health? 

Both have their role to play in gut health, as well as general wellbeing. So, it’s best to include both options, particularly if you already have gut health concerns. 

Probiotics can help to encourage the balance of microbes in the gut back to ‘normal’. Depending on the strain, they can also reduce inflammation and even improve absorption of nutrients.  

Prebiotics can help to encourage the growth of beneficial gut microbes. If you eat a lower carbohydrate and fibre diet for even one day, it can increase unhealthy microbes and reduce beneficial microbes. 

When you add both into your diet via food, they also bring other nutrients that support gut health. Vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and amino acids all play their part in supporting a healthy digestive tract, and you’ll find them in both fermented foods and prebiotic-rich foods. 

Are you working on improving your gut health? Wondering if probiotic and prebiotic supplements could help you? 

Our naturopath Trish is happy to help you. She can assess your diet, lifestyle and goals, as well as any pathology results you might have from your GP. Together, you can discuss the best ways to improve your gut health naturally and which supplements will help with your specific symptoms. 

To book an appointment with Trish at our Bundaberg clinic, book an appointment online here or call us on (07) 41522372 

© 2019 by Burnett House
84 Burnett St
Bundaberg South QLD 4670
ABN: 88 973 250 774
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