Prebiotic vs Probiotic Simplified
Prebiotic is a type of food that helps the good bacteria in our gut grow and stay healthy. It's like a special treat for the good bacteria that live inside our tummy! Probiotic, on the other hand, is a type of good bacteria that we can eat or drink to help keep our gut healthy. It's like a superhero friend that fights off the bad bacteria that can make us sick. So, prebiotics is the food that helps the good bacteria grow, while probiotic is the good bacteria that helps keep our gut healthy. Together, prebiotics and probiotics make a great team to keep our tummy happy and healthy!
When did the usage of probiotics start?
Although people have ingested probiotics for their health advantages for thousands of years, the current idea of probiotics as living microbes with health advantages only emerged in the first decades of the 20th century. Early probiotic researchers including Elie Metchnikoff, Alfred Nissle, and Henry Tissier produced significant discoveries (1). Japanese researchers examined the health advantages of miso, which has the probiotic bacterium Lactobacillus acidophilus, in the 1960s and 1970s (2). Probiotics are now well recognised as a helpful supplement, meal, or beverage that can help to support the health of the immunological and digestive systems.
Prebiotics and Digestive Health in Women
Constipation, bloating, and irritable bowel syndrome are among the digestive conditions that affect women more frequently (3). However, by consuming prebiotics, these digestive health issues could be reduced. So how can prebiotics help?
Encouraging the development of good bacteria in the stomach, which can aid digestion.
Improve gut health in pregnant women and reduce the risk of preterm birth.
Prebiotics and Hormonal Health in Women
Hormonal imbalances can lead to a range of health issues in women, from irregular menstrual cycles to acne and mood swings (4). However, by consuming prebiotics, these hormonal health issues could be reduced. So how can prebiotics help?
Promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut, which play a key role in metabolizing and eliminating excess hormones.
Alleviate symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
Improve insulin resistance and reduce inflammation
Prebiotics and Immune Health in Women
Women have a higher risk of autoimmune diseases, which occur when the immune system mistakenly attacks the body's own tissues (5). However, by consuming prebiotics, these immune health issues could be reduced. So how can prebiotics help?
Promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut, which play a key role in regulating the immune system.
Beneficial for women with autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and lupus as it can help reduce inflammation and improve gut health.
Natural Food that contains Prebiotics
Prebiotics are abundant in oats. They have been shown to contain beta-glucan, a form of soluble fibre that has been proven to encourage the development of good bacteria in the gut. The gut microbiota ferments beta-glucan to create short-chain fatty acids, which can support a healthy gut environment (6).
Chia seeds are a food that has been shown to have prebiotic effects due to the presence of mucilage. It can help to control bad cholesterol levels and prevent blood sugar spikes. Thus, it is suitable for people with diabetes that is looking to increase prebiotic consumption (7).
There are varieties of soy-based food such as tempeh and tofu that contain prebiotics. During the fermentation process of tempeh, the content of prebiotic fibre has been increased, such as oligosaccharides and beta-glucans. Thus, consuming soy-based products will help to increase the probiotic content in the gut (8).
Coconut Sugar contains inulin up to 3-5% inulin, which is a type of prebiotic fibre that can feed the beneficial bacteria in the gut (7).
Written by: Alia Adrina Asri
Love Earth Nutritionist
BSc Nutrition (Hons)