Probiotics vs Prebiotics

What is the difference between probiotics and prebiotics?

A lot of people are confused about what a probiotic is vs what a prebiotic is, so here is how I remember it:

Prebiotics = the food the bacteria need to feed on in your gut (‘pree’ = ‘feed’)

Probiotics = the bacteria that grow in your gut (‘pro = grow’)

But what exactly are  prebiotics? I hear you ask…

Well, put simply, prebiotics are fiber from fruits/vegetables/whole grains which survive the digestive tract to reach large intestine (the colon) where the majority of the friendly bacteria live. Certain foods are much richer in prebiotics than others e.g. asparagus, onions, garlic, artichokes, dandelion greens. When you eat fruits and vegetables you are eating BOTH prebiotics and probiotics (the probiotics present in fruit and vegetables is what does the fermentation for you when you ferment e.g. in sauerkraut).

I know I am repeating myself, but it is so important – studies have shown that by increasing the fiber content of your diet, you can change the bacteria in your gut without any supplementation with probiotics. Meat-eaters have different bacteria to vegetarians, and those with high fiber intake have more beneficial bacteria than those who do not eat enough fiber.

The USDA recommends 25-30g of fiber a day for adults but the average American only takes in 15g (around half). If you want to see how to get 30g of fiber a day into your diet, click here but as an apple is around 4g, and an orange is 3g.

For children, this is the American Heart Association’s recommendation for fiber intake:

Age Fiber (Grams)
1-3 years 19
4-8 years 25
9-13 years Female – 26
Male – 31
14-18 years Female – 26
Male – 38

Are you and your kids getting enough?

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