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Prebiotics vs. Probiotics: What's The Difference?

Posted by Meghan Wilson on
Prebiotics vs. Probiotics: What's The Difference?

Both prebiotics and probiotics support the daily needs of the body to maintain a healthy amount of bacteria and other organisms, which support the gut and aid digestion. 

Did you know our bodies contain more healthy bacteria than cells? In addition, these bacteria promote overall health. In order to promote the growth of probiotic bacteria, we must consume a diet that is high in prebiotic foods. Both of these prebiotic and probiotic foods maintain a healthy amount of bacteria and other organisms that support the gut and digestion system. 

Prebiotics are defined as specialized plant fiber that acts as food for good bacteria, while probiotics are defined as living strains of bacteria that add to the population of good bacteria in your digestive system. 


Prebiotics are present in fiber-rich foods - they are a type of fiber that our body cannot digest and also serve as a “food” for probiotics. Although prebiotics is easily confused with probiotics, they have different functions for your body. 

Prebiotics serves as probiotic food for bacteria and other gut functions. While they don’t have the same health properties as probiotics, they do offer gut health, digestion aid, and fewer antibiotic-related health problems. 

Growing research on prebiotics has shown that they improve calcium absorption, change how quickly the body can process carbohydrates and how it supports the probiotic growth of gut bacteria, potentially enhancing digestion and metabolism. 

They occur in many whole foods already, so if you are incorporating the right foods into your diet, there’s no need to take a prebiotic supplement. However, many researchers are looking into more positive impacts that prebiotics have on the body. 

In addition, there is currently no evidence that shows taking prebiotics and probiotics together is harmful. However, people who have chronic diseases or serious illnesses should avoid probiotic or prebiotic supplements unless a doctor advises otherwise.

Here are some of our favorite popular and natural prebiotic foods: 

  • Chicory Root- The inulin in chicory root improves digestive aid, gut bacteria, and relieves constipation. It is high in antioxidants that protect the liver. It can be used as a caffeine-free replacement. 
  • Jerusalem Artichoke- This type of prebiotic contains inulin which increases good bacteria, strengthens the immune system, and has preventive properties for the disease. It also has high thiamine and potassium, helping the nervous system and muscle function. 
  • Garlic- This naturally occurring prebiotic promotes gut health and reduces the risk of antimicrobial effects. 
  • Onions- This tasty vegetable strengthens the gut flora, helps with the fat breakdown, and boosts the immune system. It has antibiotic properties that can help cardiovascular systems. 
  • Asparagus- This is a great source of prebiotic factors to promote good bacteria and prevention of disease. 
  • Bananas- This popular fruit is filled with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. A more green banana is high in resistant starch. They promote healthy gut bacteria and reduce bloating. 
  • Oats- This healthy grain has large amounts of beta-glucan fiber and resistant starch. It has been linked to healthy gut bacteria, lower LDL cholesterol, and balanced sugar control, as well as beneficial antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. 

You can easily incorporate any of these delicious foods into your everyday diet. There are many beneficial reasons to increase your prebiotic intake including healthy gut maintains and disease prevention. 

Next, let’s look at what probiotics are. 


Probiotics occur in many fermented foods, including yogurt, sauerkraut, and tempeh. But what exactly are they, and how are they different than prebiotics? 

Probiotics are made of good bacteria and yeasts that are naturally occurring in your body. Probiotics boost the good bacteria, creating a balanced gut biome. Adding probiotic-rich foods into your daily diet is a great way to add more good bacteria to your body. 

Your microbiome is a diverse center of microorganisms that work together to keep you healthy. You have trillions of microbes in you, and no two microbiomes are the same. The main job of probiotics is to maintain a healthy balance in your body, keeping the bad bacteria in check. 

Here are some of our favorite probiotic-rich foods: 

What’s the Difference? -- Conclusion 

Think of the difference between prebiotics and probiotics as a metaphor. You add seeds to your garden (probiotics), but what makes them grow is the water and fertilizer (prebiotics). 

Prebiotics serves as a type of food for probiotics. Prebiotics are present in fiber-rich foods, and they are a type of fiber that our body cannot digest. They help improve calcium absorption, change how quickly the body can process carbohydrates and how it supports the probiotic growth of gut bacteria, potentially enhancing digestion and metabolism. 

Probiotics are good bacteria, like the ones naturally occurring in your body. They help with gut digestion and balance out your gut microbiome. Some of the best ways to incorporate probiotics are eating fermented foods that can be found in Cleveland Kitchen’s marinades and sauerkraut. 

Here is one of our favorite recipes that incorporate probiotics and prebiotics into a delicious, traditional meal. 

Polish Kielbasa with Roasted Garlic Sauerkraut

Prep Time: 10 min

Cooking Time: 3 hrs

Total Time: 3 hrs 10 min

Servings: 4


  • 1 lb Kielbasa
  • 10 oz Roasted Garlic Cleveland Kraut
  • ½ tsp Olive Oil
  • 3 Potatoes


  • Preheat oven to 225°F.
  • First, wash the potatoes and peel and dice afterward.
  • Next, add 1 lb cut kielbasa, 10 ounces of the Roasted Garlic Kraut, 1/2 tsp of olive oil, and the diced potatoes in a pan and simmer on the stovetop for 5 minutes.
  • Cover loosely with foil and place in a preheated 225°F oven for 3 hours. 


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