Making your Tummy Happy….the differences between the “Biotic Brothers” Pre and Pro

By Patty Kunze, BSN, RNC and Roberta Palmer, RN 

Discussing your digestive health…what is the difference between the “Biotic brothers” PREBIOTICS and PROBIOTICS? They sound alike, but are they?? Just like children, they may be from the same family but they act differently, yet play well together. We are here to clear up the myths and make it easier to understand for all of us.

First of all, lets dispel two common myths about these prebiotics and probiotics. Prebiotics and probiotics are not the same even though they sound similar. Also, one is not better than the other as they serve different functions when it comes to digestive health. Actually, both have to work closely together in order to support your digestive health.
Prebiotics - These are soluble fiber and antioxidant rich compounds found naturally in fruits and vegetables that once fermented in the gut feed the good bacteria.
Probiotics - These are LIVE beneficial microorganisms or fermented yeast that are often introduced into food products such as yogurts or oral supplements.
So, let’s see if we can break down both topics and explain easier. Prebiotics help support (by feeding) the good bacteria in controlling the growth of the bad bacteria in your digestive system. Probiotics can be introduced into the digestive system to repopulate a lack of the good microflora (good bacteria present in the large intestine) in your gut. This can happen, if you are taking a course of antibiotics, as these can kill the good bacteria. Replenishing lost microflora can be achieved by taking probiotic rich foods, such as bio live yogurt or taking a probiotic supplement. The most effective probiotics that benefit our digestive system are Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli. (Just in case you are interested in names.)

PREBIOTICS health benefits:
It’s amazing that something so simple as consuming more fiber can help you reap a long list of health benefits. Maybe the most important is that there is a 10% reduced risk for mortality (all causes) for every 10 grams of fiber consumed (according to a 2015 American Journal of Epidemiology study).
Here are a few additional benefits:
  • Increase concentration of calcium and magnesium in the intestine
  • Strengthen the effect of probiotic bacteria in the gut
  • Promotes the absorption of several important nutrients
  • Promotes vitamin B in the intestine
  • Support the lowering of too high cholesterol
  • Promotes the function of the gall bladder
  • Stimulates growth of bifido bacteria
  • Prevent certain types of cancer
  • Stabilizes blood sugar
Where can we find these wizards of fiber? 
Asparagus, chicory, leeks, Jerusalem artichokes, wheat, soybeans, oats, garlic, and onions. Prebiotic fiber can also be found in the skin of apples as well as bananas.

Now the brother’s turn. PROBIOTICS health benefits:
  • Probiotics help balance the friendly bacteria in your digestive system
  • Probiotics can help prevent and treat diarrhea
  • Probiotic supplements improve some mental health conditions
  • Certain probiotic strains can help keep your heart healthy
  • Probiotics may reduce the severity of certain allergies and eczema
  • Probiotics can help reduce symptoms of certain digestive disorders
  • Probiotics may help boost your immune system
  • Probiotics may help you lose weight and belly fat
Where can we locate these Probiotics?
Lactobacillus. This may be the most common probiotic. It's the one you'll find in yogurt and other fermented foods. Different strains can help with diarrhea and may help people who can't digest lactose, the sugar in milk.
Bifidobacterium. You can find it in some dairy products. It may help ease the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and some other conditions.
Saccharomyces boulardii is a yeast found in probiotics. It appears to help fight diarrhea and other digestive problems.
We have intentionally kept this topic short, basic, and to the point for easy comprehension. It’s confusing but the one way we remember is prObiotics is yOgurt and prEbiotics are LEEks and other vEgEtables.

We hope this has helped clear up some of the head scratching on the difference between Prebiotics and Probiotics, the power forces benefiting the digestive system.
It’s all good, so keep on rollin’.

Patty, BSN, RNC and Roberta, RN

8 Health Benefits of Probiotics.
Prebiotics Health Benefits • Add More Fiber To Your Body.
Prebiotics vs Probiotics - Why Both Are Essential for Digestive Health
What are Probiotics?

About the Authors:

Patty Kunze has been a Registered Nurse since 1983. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Nursing and worked several years in a Spinal Cord Injury Unit at the local Veterans Administration Medical Center as a new graduate. She has been a flight transport nurse for Neonatal Intensive Care, an assistant manager of Labor and Delivery, and an instructor of nursing students. In 2009, she was involved in an auto accident which left her paralyzed (T3-4 complete paraplegic) from the chest down. But she continues her nursing career while sitting in her wheelchair as a nurse paralegal and writing articles for others with spinal cord injuries as The Rollin RN ™.

Roberta Palmer has been a Registered Nurse for 20 years.  She has knowledge in Family Practice, Allery and Immunology, Special Pharmacy Medication and Counseling, and she is a RN Health Coach. In 2014, she was involved in an ATV accident which also left her paralyzed (T3-4 complete paraplegic) from chest down.

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