What's the difference between prebiotics and probiotics?

Prebiotics feed the bacteria in our gut, whereas, probiotics are the healthy bacteria that live inside our gut.

Currently, there is a lot of research being undertaken into the effects of prebiotics and probiotics. Just about every condition is linked with gut health, highlighting the importance of optimising our intake of nutritious food and healthy gut bacteria.  



Prebiotics are responsible for feeding the good gut bacteria in our bowel (aka the probiotics). Consuming a wide range of prebiotics encourages the growth of probiotics.

What are common food sources of probiotics?

  • Vegetables: Onion, garlic & potatoes (cooked and then cooled).
  • Fruit: Banana, watermelon & grapefruit.
  • Oats.
  • Breastmilk.

Potatoes are an interesting prebiotic, as they contain something known as resistant starch. Resistant starch feeds our gut bacteria, has anti-inflammatory effects, improves our immune system and increases the number of cells in the bowel. In turn, this creates a mucus membrane barrier which is protective against toxin absorption.


Probiotics are the actual bacteria themselves. They can be found in capsule form at a chemist, or naturally in food, e.g., yoghurt and fermented foods. Common examples of fermented foods with a significant probiotic profile are sauerkraut and Kim Chi. Probiotics dominate the health food stores but are also rising in popularity at commercial supermarkets.

Currently, there is a lot of research looking at whether probiotics are needed for everyday use - it's still quite heavily debated. However, studies have illustrated that capsuled probiotics can have a significant improvement in depression and IBS. Probiotics are often beneficial when people require antibiotics. Antibiotics can wipe out healthy gut bacteria, which can cause issues and pain for many. Therefore, a probiotic is usually recommended when people start taking antibiotics. 


To maximise our prebiotic and probiotic intake, we need to consume a diet rich in colour, variety and fibre. This is going to come from fruits, vegetables and wholegrain foods. A high protein yoghurt and/or fermented foods, are also part of a healthy diet and should be included to support optimal bowel health and healthy gut microfloraTo determine personalised strategies to increase your prebiotic and probiotic intake, book a consult at CQ Nutrition!


Here is a link to book in with one of our expert dietitians at any of our locations https://www.cqnutrition.com.au/booking/ 

Want an online consultation? Book in on my calendar and in comments write online: https://bit.ly/AnnieROK 

Written by Annabel Johnston, BAppSc&MDietPrac & GCertDiabSt





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