Probiotics vs Prebiotics - what's the difference?


There’s term in holistic medicine ‘weed, seed and feed’ that refers to re-balancing the micro-biome, or the gut. First, we weed out the harmful bacteria. It’s worthwhile noting that we have over 500 different species of microbes in our bodies and some of these are essential to the functioning of a well oiled machine. If you have a digestive disorder such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or Coeliac’s disease then you are likely dealing with a disproportionate amount of bad bacteria in your gut.


Seeding refers to planting good bacteria back into the gut so they can re-establish and eventually populate naturally. Probiotics can form part of the seeding. This can be done by supplement or fermented foods, or both. Fermented foods include miso, raw sauerkraut, and kefir.


Lastly, feeding refers to prebiotics because the good bacteria that live in our gut need these sources to maintain a healthy balance. Think of foods that are high in fibre, such as fresh fruit and vegetables, and these will generally keep you in stasis. By consuming an abundance of fresh produce with a whole food diet, you should be obtaining sufficient amount of prebiotics.


On a balanced whole food diet you should not need to supplement. However, if you have digestive disorders it is best to work with a naturopath or a nutritionist to ensure you obtain the correct strains of bacteria needed to repopulate your gut. Remember, we are all unique and different disorders do different things to our bodies.


Be aware that probiotics are not always what the label says. Some products contain ‘unclean’ ingredients and or fillers, and if this is the case then you are not really getting what you paid for. Do your research in supplement brands before purchase.


Choose wisely. Live vibrantly.


Photo by Nadine Primeau on Unsplash

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