Learn the difference between a probiotic and a prebiotic — and why you need them both.
Prebiotics are specialized plant fibers. They act like fertilizers that stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut.
Prebiotics are found in many fruits and vegetables, especially those that contain complex carbohydrates, such as fiber and resistant starch. These carbs aren’t digestible by your body, so they pass through the digestive system to become food for the bacteria and other microbes.
The list of prebiotic foods is long, from asparagus to yams. A quick internet search will yield dozens of examples, as will a consultation with a registered dietitian.
Probiotics are different in that they contain live organisms, usually specific strains of bacteria that directly add to the population of healthy microbes in your gut.
Like prebiotics, you can take probiotics through both food and supplements. Probably the most common probiotic food is yogurt.
Yogurt is made by fermenting milk with different bacteria, which are left in the final product. Other bacteria-fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kombucha and kimchi, are also good sources of probiotics.
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