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Prebiotics vs. Probiotics

Updated: Apr 16, 2020

While PREBIOTICS and PROBIOTICS sound similar, they are very different and have different roles in the digestive system (or gut).

  • PREBIOTIC FIBRE is a non-digestible part of foods like bananas, oats, onions and garlic, Jerusalem artichoke, the skin of apples, pulses, seeds, beans, and many others. Prebiotic fiber goes through the small intestine undigested and is fermented when it reaches the large colon.

This fermentation process feeds beneficial bacteria colonies (including probiotic bacteria) and helps to increase the number of desirable bacteria in our digestive systems (also called the gut) that are associated with better health and reduced disease risk.

  • PROBIOTICS are live beneficial bacteria that are naturally created by the process of fermentation in foods like yogurt, milk kefir, water kefir, sauerkraut, miso soup, kimchi, and others.

Probiotics are also available in pill form and as an added ingredient in products like yogurt and health drinks such as Tibico products.

Kefir, a water based and milk drink that has been fermented using kefir grains, is an especially potent source of probiotics. According to Jeannette Hyde, a nutritional therapist, and high-profile advocate for kefir, “it contains lactobacilli and bifidobacteria in high doses, and also helps diversity too – more than 50 different types of bacteria can

be found in kefir. When you drink kefir these bacteria travel through the digestive tract to colonise the colon.”

While many types of bacteria are classified as probiotics, most come from two groups: [Laurence 2018]

  • Lactobacillus – the most common probiotic found in fermented foods. Tibico Kefir Water may be especially helpful with diarrhoea and may help with people who can’t digest milk sugar (lactose).

  • Bifidobacterium – also found in fermented foods. May ease symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and related conditions. Naturally present in the large intestine, bifidobacteria fight harmful bacteria in the intestines, prevent constipation and give the immune system a boost. Furthermore, evidence indicates that bifidobacteria help reduce intestinal concentrations of certain carcinogenic enzymes.

A helpful metaphor to understand the difference between a prebiotic and a probiotic may be a garden. You can add seeds—the probiotic bacteria—while the prebiotic fibre is the water and fertilizer that helps the seeds to grow and flourish.

Benefits of PROBIOTICS

The beneficial effects of probiotics have been widely demonstrated. [Toscana 2016] Health professionals often recommend probi