Are Probiotics and Prebiotics the same thing and do we need them both?

Probiotics and Prebiotics

Have you ever considered taking probiotics or prebiotics to boost your health and wellness? Many people add these supplements to their daily nutrition regime for additional health benefits. Although they sound similar, they provide different health benefits. In this article, we’ll explore the difference between probiotics and prebiotics and if we really need to take them both. 

What You Need To Know About Your Gut

Before we explore the differences and benefits of probiotics and prebiotics, we need to understand how they work in the body. Your gut has a collection of bacteria and fungi known as the microbiome. The microbiome helps keep your system healthy. When there is an imbalance of the microbiome in your gut, you may suffer from digestive or other health issues. 

A healthy gut microbiome communicates with your intestines, digests foods, and prevents toxins from creating health issues. The gut microbiome can also prevent health issues such as diabetes, heart disease, and neurodegenerative disorders, to name a few. 

Understanding the Differences Between Probiotics and Prebiotics

Probiotics and prebiotics are both important in maintaining gut health and overall wellness. However, they come from different sources and provide different benefits. Here’s a look at each one to get a better understanding of their specific roles in your health.


Since probiotics contain live organisms, they differ from prebiotics. You can find probiotics in several foods and supplements. Their job is to boost your immune system and keep your digestive system safe from harmful organisms. They contain specific strains of bacteria that add to the supply in your gut. Probiotics help your intestinal tract absorb essential nutrients for health and wellness. They are a primary defense against illness and disease.


You can often find prebiotics in fruits, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates that are hard to digest. They come from plant fibers and promote healthy gut bacteria. Think of prebiotics as your body’s own personal fermentation system. 

As prebiotics break down and stimulate bacteria growth, it helps the bacteria fight off potential illness. Prebiotics have the job of feeding bacteria and creating a unique environment in your gut where the healthy bacteria can thrive. 

Are There Benefits of Probiotics and Prebiotics?

Taking both probiotics and prebiotics can help support and maintain the growth of healthy bacteria in the digestive system. There are also many benefits of including more of them in your diet. Here’s a look at a few benefits of probiotics and prebiotics.

Benefits of Prebiotics

Adding a prebiotic supplement to your diet isn’t necessary since so many foods contain them. They can provide several benefits to your health by:

  • Helping boost absorb calcium
  • Helping boost metabolism and digestive energy
  • Aiding in processing carbohydrates

Adding more foods to your diet that contain prebiotics can promote a healthier gut and digestive health. Eating foods rich in prebiotics can enrich gut health and ward off illness and disease. It also works to improve your intestinal tract health to reduce digestive disorders. By improving gut health, it may also help reduce inflammation in the body. 

Probiotic Benefits

Adding a probiotic supplement to your diet results in good bacteria which can offer several health benefits. 

Prevent Digestive Disorders 

Many people struggle with digestive disorders such as Crohn’s, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and others. There are several factors that contribute to an imbalance in your digestive system. Diet, medical history, and environmental factors are a few examples. 

When your digestive system has an imbalance, it can cause digestive disorders. That is why it’s important to add probiotics into your diet to support healthy digestion. 

Helps Improve Mental Health

Some studies show a connection between mental health and an imbalanced digestive system. A balanced digestive system can improve mental focus and emotional moods. When all your body systems are working correctly, you notice improved health and wellness. 

Boosts Your Immunity

Some probiotics can help increase your immune system’s natural defenses against illness and disease. Probiotics work to promote the growth of antibodies in your system that are responsible for fighting off illness. 

Who Should Take Probiotics and Prebiotics?

If you are already a healthy person with no health issues or concerns, there may not be a need to add these supplements. Chances are, you are already consuming them in foods you eat every day. You can find live probiotic cultures in certain fermented foods such as keifer, sauerkraut, kombucha, and yogurt. 

If your diet consists heavily of fruits and vegetables, you’re probably getting a good amount of probiotics in your diet. It’s important to consult your doctor about whether a probiotic supplement or an additional prebiotic source is helpful for your health needs. 

Do You Need to Take Both?

Maintaining a healthy digestive system requires both probiotics and prebiotics. However, since many foods already include prebiotics, there may be no need to take a supplement. Some probiotic-rich foods also have a certain amount of prebiotics in them as well. 

While prebiotics are not essential for probiotics to work, taking prebiotics can boost the power of probiotics in your system. If you have digestive issues or want a boost to your health and wellness, including both of them in your diet can help balance your system and boost your immunity. 

Taking the Right Supplement For Your Health

Many probiotic supplements are on the market today, and it’s hard to know which one is right for you. Start by increasing your fiber intake with fruits and vegetables. This will allow you to absorb some natural prebiotics and probiotics into your body. 

Talk with your doctor about taking a probiotic supplement for your health. It’s important to take the proper dose that’s right for you to avoid digestive issues. A doctor can guide you in the right amount and brand that supports your health.

Call Us For An Appointment Today

Are you considering a probiotic supplement for your health? Call us for an appointment today. Dr. Leo is passionate about using natural solutions to restore balance and renew health in his patients. We look forward to helping you on your health journey. 

Picture of Dr. L. J. Leo

Dr. L. J. Leo

Dr. Leo began his education at the Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine in Blacksburg, Virginia, where he earned his doctorate in osteopathy. He completed his internal medicine residency through the U.S. Army and had the honor of serving multiple overseas tours before retirement.

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