What is the Difference Between Prebiotics and Probiotics?

What is the difference between prebiotics and probiotics? by Rawries Wholefoods

Over the past few years, there has been a large focus on the nutritional and health benefits of both probiotics and prebiotics and the powerful role that they play in our overall wellbeing.  

The importance of gut health has been linked to everything from increased immunity, to allergy reduction - to even improved sleep.  Whilst he hear the terms “probiotic” and “prebiotic” used so frequently in health articles or supplement marketing, there are many who don’t understand the difference, or how they can naturally boost these elements through simply eating fermented and plant-based whole foods.

There are millions of bacteria living in our intestines.  Certain types of these bacteria are often referred to as “good” or “friendly” and perform important functions in our digestive tracts to promote and maintain optimal health.  “Good” bacteria also play an important role in preventing “bad” bacteria from multiplying, protecting the body from infection and disease.

The probiotics and prebiotics in the diet assist with restoring a proper balance of good bacteria in the digestive system.

What is the difference between probiotics and prebiotics?

Probiotics are a beneficial bacteria and effectively live microorganisms found in foods, bacteria, yeast or fungi.  Common strains include the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium families of bacteria. They are naturally found in fermented foods like sauerkraut and kombucha.  Have a read of our post that discusses the importance of fermented foods.

Some of the health benefits of including probiotics in your diet include:  

  • reduction in the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome
  • the curing of recurrent candidiasis (yeast infection) and other female uro-genital conditions
  • assisting in healing many intestinal infections
  • a reduction in allergy symptoms
  • promoting regular bowel movements and colon health

Prebiotics are a non-digestible foods that help keep the probiotic bacteria healthy.  They mostly come from carbohydrate fibers called oligosaccharides. Great sources of oligosaccharides include fruits, legumes, and whole grains.  Another great reason to include more fibre rich foods in the diet!

Research has shown than an increase in eating prebiotic rich foods can:

  • assist with osteoporosis management
  • relieve menopausal symptoms
  • reduce the likelihood of certain cancers
  • increase the absorption of vital minerals, such as calcium and magnesium

Essentially, prebiotics are “food” for probiotics, and they work together to ensure digestive health and overall wellbeing.  

There are currently no regulations regarding the labelling of foods that contain prebiotics or probiotics.  A label can therefore make mention of containing such beneficial ingredients, without legally requiring a second-party measurement that validates this claim.  One of the main concerns is that products saying they contain live cultures do not actually contain enough live organisms to be beneficial, or that the organisms in the product are not resistant enough to survive the passage through the stomach acid to reach the intestine.  

It is for this reason, that acquiring prebiotic and probiotic rich food from a balanced plant-based whole foods diet is a more sustainable and lifestyle friendly option.  Through incorporating a range of naturally fermented foods into your diet, alongside a variety of whole grain, fibre rich vegetables, legumes and fruit you can support your healthy gut ecosystem without needing to rely on supplements.  Making whole food that is packed with living nutrients part of a lifestyle is a sure-fire way to boost health, wellbeing and immunity.


Rawries is passionately committed to making raw wholegrain plant-based food convenient, achievable and absolutely delicious... for everyone!  Visit our blog for articles and evidence based research discussions around the healthful benefits of incorporating "more raw" into your diet, as well as tips on how to boost your nutrition and overall wellbeing.  For raw vegan inspirations, head to our vibrant recipe selection of breakfastsmainssalads and soups, sauces and dipsdesserts and fresh juices and smoothies.  We can't wait to hear what you think of them!

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