The Main Difference Between Probiotics and Prebiotics


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Foods that are high in prebiotic fiber include: Legumes, beans and peas. Oats. Bananas. Berries. Jerusalem artichokes (not the same as regular artichokes).

Asparagus. Dandelion greens. Prebiotics are present in fiber-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

Probiotics occur in many fermented foods, including yogurt, sauerkraut, and tempeh. Benefits and side. Probiotics are bacteria that live in your body naturally and help your intestines break down food. Probiotics that are the same or very similar to the ones that your body makes can be taken to.

Probiotics are beneficial gut flora while prebiotics are mostly non-digestible fiber. Synbiotics are synergistic combinations of prebiotics together with probiotics. So, this is the key. Probiotics and prebiotics are two buzz words these days.

Those who are into nutrition and healthy eating would know the fine line between prebiotic and probiotic. Prebiotics. Probiotics are living organisms and like other living organisms, they need to eat. What they eat are prebiotics.

These are the nutrients that keep your health bacteria healthy. They’re found in the nondigestible components of food and are good sources of healthy fiber. Bananas are a source of gut-helping prebiotics. Prebiotics are essentially food for probiotic bacteria.

These are carbs and plant fiber which are otherwise indigestible for humans. But, the good bacteria in your gut eat these and thrive to form colonies. Prebiotics have a direct hand in controlling the amount of harmful bacteria in your gut. Prebiotics vs.

Probiotics While PREBIOTICS and PROBIOTICS sound similar, these supplements are very different and have different roles in the digestive system (or gut). PREBIOTIC. Probiotics are “good” bacteria added to your gut to deliver a health benefit. Prebiotics nourish the “good” bacteria already there so they can grow and thrive. It’s not probiotics vs. prebiotics; it’s probiotics AND prebiotics.

Prebiotics and probiotics. Probiotics are different in that they contain live organisms, usually specific strains of bacteria that directly add to the population of healthy microbes in your gut. Like prebiotics, you can take probiotics through both food and supplements.

Probably the most common probiotic.

List of related literature:

Symbiotic supplements contain both probiotics and prebiotics.

“Textbook of Critical Care E-Book” by Jean-Louis Vincent, Edward Abraham, Patrick Kochanek, Frederick A. Moore, Mitchell P. Fink
from Textbook of Critical Care E-Book
by Jean-Louis Vincent, Edward Abraham, et. al.
Elsevier Health Sciences, 2016

Both probiotics and prebiotics work together to promote digestive healthand boost theimmune system.

“Fermentation for Beginners: The Step-by-Step Guide to Fermentation and Probiotic Foods” by Drakes Press
from Fermentation for Beginners: The Step-by-Step Guide to Fermentation and Probiotic Foods
by Drakes Press
Callisto Media Incorporated, 2013

Prebiotics are substances in certain foods that support probiotics.

“Alters and Schiff Essential Concepts for Healthy Living” by Jeff Housman, Mary Odum
from Alters and Schiff Essential Concepts for Healthy Living
by Jeff Housman, Mary Odum
Jones & Bartlett Learning, LLC, 2015

Prebiotics and lactic acid bacteria (LAB) (probiotics) have demonstrated beneficial effects with respect to the function of innate immunity, intestinal barrier function and increased resistance to disease.

“Phytochemicals of Nutraceutical Importance” by Dhan Prakash, Girish Sharma
from Phytochemicals of Nutraceutical Importance
by Dhan Prakash, Girish Sharma
CABI, 2014

Unlike probiotics, prebiotics are not living organisms.

“Visualizing Human Biology” by Kathleen A. Ireland
from Visualizing Human Biology
by Kathleen A. Ireland
Wiley, 2017

Both probiotics and enzymes are at a disadvantage compared to prebiotics (which provide substrates to encourage beneficial gut populations) in that the former are much more sensitive to loss in processing and storage.

“Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats” by National Research Council, Division on Earth and Life Studies, Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources, Committee on Animal Nutrition, Subcommittee on Dog and Cat Nutrition
from Nutrient Requirements of Dogs and Cats
by National Research Council, Division on Earth and Life Studies, et. al.
National Academies Press, 2006

microflora could result in deleterious metabolic effects which may be corrected by either stimulating the bowel, i.e., introducing prebiotics that would stimulate a beneficial change in the microflora, or adding probiotics that would give the same results [20].

“Geriatric Gastroenterology” by C. S. Pitchumoni, T. Dharmarajan
from Geriatric Gastroenterology
by C. S. Pitchumoni, T. Dharmarajan
Springer New York, 2012

Modulation of the intestinal bacteria towards a “healthy” community by specialty carbohydrates supporting beneficial bacteria (so-called prebiotics) or by feeding live bacteria (so-called probiotics) is currently undergoing active research.

“Nutraceuticals in Veterinary Medicine” by Ramesh C. Gupta, Ajay Srivastava, Rajiv Lall
from Nutraceuticals in Veterinary Medicine
by Ramesh C. Gupta, Ajay Srivastava, Rajiv Lall
Springer International Publishing, 2019

Prebiotics are food components that travel through our small intestine and reach our colons, where they selectively promote the growth of “good” bacteria or inhibit the growth of “bad” bacteria.

“Future Foods: How Modern Science Is Transforming the Way We Eat” by David Julian McClements
from Future Foods: How Modern Science Is Transforming the Way We Eat
by David Julian McClements
Springer International Publishing, 2019

• Prebiotics may be combined with probiotics to produce synbiotics that will enable the two components to work together in synergy.

“Herbs and Natural Supplements Inkling: An Evidence-Based Guide” by Lesley Braun, Marc Cohen
from Herbs and Natural Supplements Inkling: An Evidence-Based Guide
by Lesley Braun, Marc Cohen
Elsevier Health Sciences APAC, 2010

Alexia Lewis RD

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Heath Coach who believes life is better with science, humor, and beautiful, delicious, healthy food.

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  • Do you understand the #health benefits of prebiotics? If not, watch this video! Then head over to to purchase your #prebiotic supplement:

  • I am wondering if you are saying we want to find a capsule probiotic that is acid-resistant then why is it that fermented foods work? (since they are not going to the intestines but rather stomach). Does this mean that the capsules are better than food sources of probiotics? thanks!

  • Prebiotics Market Outlook, Growth Prospects and Key Opportunities 2024

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    Some of the major factors driving this market are increasing consumer awareness towards health, nutrition and their intense focus on need for essential additives in the diet.

  • Agreed, sarif200! We are working on a video that will provide information on the effects of prebiotics on obesity and will let you know as soon as we have it live! Thanks for the comment! Dr. Jackson

  • Hi! I love your content! �� I too have been wary about illegitimate sources and obsessing over micro-encapsulation. So can you explain why some brands that claim to be legitimate do not require refrigeration and then other scientist approved brands ship w/ an ice pack? Also did you test your gut microbiome before & after taking the probiotic to measure the efficiency?

  • Hi dr berg, what’s your opinion on inulin? I have a large pack of inulin at home, so I mix it in my pancake. Will it help my constipation? I’ve watched your video on constipation and you said the amount of fiber you consume doen’t effect or make the constipation worse, but I just wanna know if it’s a good idea.

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  • Hi Madison I have Crohn’s disease and find it really hard to eat anything from the onion family to help with my pre/probiotics. I have taken capsules before with very little effect, but now I realise that might have been because they weren’t acid resistant. Thank you so much! Have subscribed as I want to hear more. Saw you on youtube for bosses thanks for making this:)

  • Thank You Dr. Berg!!!! Eat all these vegetables they help heal the tissue in your body and make the probiotics proliferate so you are all happy in the tummy!

  • Hi Mads! Thanks so much for the video, I been eating more fermented foods everyday, at the three main meals during the day and having 1 glass of water kefir at day as well, if I’m having probiotics like this would be necessary for me to have them as a supplement? Thanks stay safe!

  • i don’t take probiotics but i really should so i can have a normal digestion! This is so important! Great job girl! keep up the good work, love your videos:*

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  • Sounds interesting, I have digestion issues myself, but Lee can we really trust a company selling stuff to put into our system? I worry sometimes about taking something regular that could potentially be dangerous. How long have you been on them? and what were your symptoms before?

  • I take the same probiotics! Recently I went on an antibiotic course that was longer than I expected. These probiotics are helping out a lot!

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  • Hi Dr. Berg! What is the TOP probiotic you recommend on the market, specifically for a woman and one whose gut is sensitive? I have tried probiotics and blown up like a balloon with a stomach ache, so I’m so hesitant to buy; but I have a history of battling candida and I know this is an essential piece to the health puzzle for me. Thank you!!!

  • I’m starting this evening. I used to eat prebiotic foods without knowing and understood why l felt better and lost weight five years back. After seeing this I’m getting back on track. Thank you Doctor for the generous video.

  • Ever notice any side effects from digestive enzymes every meal and between meals empty stomach??
    Been taking them years??

    Jonbarron says protease in digestive enzymes can cause pain 7hours and can cause bleeding!
    He sells his own digestive enzymes so he has no agenda to lie

  • Taking probiotics does not work because microbes can’t survive if you don’t feed them with the right food! You just have to change your lifestyle and diet (fiber rich).

  • This is priceless information. I’ve suffered from fatigue and insulin resistance for a long time. I simply incorporated a teaspoon of garlic daily not knowing it’s a prebiotic and it’s made a world of difference.

  • The scratch-the-surface research I’ve done suggests that the “prebiotics are simply better than probiotics” is a buy-this-not-that statement rather than a logical or bio-logical one, aimed at consumers that are making either/or choices with their health supplement investments.  It sounds to me as though a combination of probiotic food products, enteric-coated probiotic supplements with a well-chosen combination of bifida, lactobacillus, and other microorganisms are the perfect complement to his prebiotic supplements, to argue this in marketing terms.  In bio-logic terms the use of probiotics can be supposed to have little chance of successfully and efficiently producing the healthy microbiome the consumer seeks unless the total environment those organisms need to multiply throughout the GI tract is provided.  This would presumably include:  proper pH, adequate hydration, a fiber-rich, protein-carbohydrate-fat-balanced diet, and a sufficiently augmented supply of the specific compounds that are these organisms’ primary conditions of nutrition and reproduction.  Enter “Prebiotin”:  probiotic food products would arrive in the small intestine somewhat hampered by stomach acid, but be given support by oligofructose, and the enteric-coated probiotics would find their way to the end of the colon supported by inulin.  Sounds very probable to me.  However, I doubt that there has been sufficient research done to confirm these hypotheses, or to demonstrate their consequent effects in alleviating symptoms and ameliorating the conditions mentioned.  I’d love to see such research, and/or hear comments on this posting.

  • Lee you should checkout Eric Bakkers’s yt channel candidacrusher hes got 1000s of videos on topic of gut, probiotics and other stuff. He is another youtuber that deserves more recognition

  • Shouldn’t the unit mentioned (written/spoken) around 0:40 be “trillions” instead of “billions”? I often read we indeed have 10x the amount of bacteria over the total number of body cells, but I usually read that the body contains “tens of trillions” (say 20 trillion) of body cells, and that one can multiply by 10x to know about the amount of bacteria… not too sure how all these numbers are computed really so I can imagine how many are probably off by a certain factor, but the 1000x unit made me decide to confirm things with you… thanks in advance for the reply!

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