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Have you ever wondered what the difference is between prebiotics and probiotics? Someone still tends to consider them the same thing but in reality they have different functions for the body and above all they are not found in the same foods.

We know that both are needed to help the intestinal flora: and then what?

The time has come to shed light on the subject and clarify exactly what they are, what benefits they bring, where to find them and when to take them to improve your health. 

Ready to take notes? Here's everything you need to know.

Prebiotics: what they are and their benefits

Prebiotics are non-digestible organisms that rebalance the microbiota. These are soluble fibers that help to proliferate the so-called good bacteria, i.e. the probiotics which we will discuss shortly. 

Their strong point is their resistance: they manage to pass through the entire stomach without changing or losing effectiveness, thus arriving at their destination completely intact. 

What are they for? Here are the benefits they bring to health:

  • They normalize intestinal functions
  • They strengthen the immune system
  • They promote metabolism
  • They check blood sugar
  • They also have action against stress
  • They normalize sleep

Given their important functions it is clear that they must never be lacking in our diet. So let's see where you can find them.

What foods are prebiotics found in?

prebiotics and probiotics

Fruits, vegetables, cereals are some categories of foods in which prebiotics are found spontaneously. 

As far as fruit is concerned, bananas contain them in greater quantities. 

For vegetables, the list is longer and also includes many vegetables: asparagus, artichokes, onions, garlic, chicory, beets.

Among legumes, prebiotics are found above all in beans, but all the others also contain them in sufficient quantities.

And then they are also in whole grains such as oats, barley and wheat.

Finally, a significant percentage is present in dried fruit, honey and some yoghurts in which they exist together with probiotics. 

Probiotics: what they are and their benefits

THE probiotics they are bacteria that are good for the body. For this reason they are also called good bacteria and represent live microorganisms that proliferate in the intestine to bring it back into balance. Their quality is that of being able to colonize the intestine and cells, resisting the digestive action of acidic elements such as enzymes, gastric juices and bile salts. 

Some of them are very famous, such as lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, also often recommended by doctors to rebalance intestinal functions through food or supplements.

And the benefits? Here are the most important:

  • They protect the digestive system in case of taking antibiotics
  • They help fight irritable bowel syndrome
  • They strengthen the intestinal flora
  • They fight constipation and bloating 
  • They purify the skin
  • They fight some types of infections

So their action is quite effective in various situations related not only to problems of an intestinal nature. In this way it is possible to stay fit, prevent discomfort and improve the health of the body in a few simple steps.

What foods are probiotics found in?

prebiotics and probiotics

Let's find out now in which foods they are present so as not to get confused when you go shopping and choose foods rich in probiotics.

Here's where to find them:

  • Yogurt
  • Fermented milk
  • Cream cheeses
  • Kombucha
  • Fiber-rich foods
  • Kefir
  • Tempeh
  • Sauerkraut
  • Miso

As you can see, many of these foods are fermented and of plant origin and in which probiotics are found in significant quantities. We are talking about 1 billion live microorganisms per strain.

When to take them?

In both cases it is better to take them on an empty stomach at specific times of the day, to amplify their effects. 

Let's find out when to take probiotics. Since they can be taken in the form of foods and supplements, it is easier to distribute them even more than once in the same day. 

As supplements it is preferable to take them away from meals (even and above all if there are already other probiotic sources in the daily planner). They are usually recommended in the morning, 30 minutes before breakfast and in the evening, before going to bed.

If, on the other hand, you want to take advantage of the action of probiotics through the foods listed above, there are no precise rules: they are good for breakfast, perhaps with a yoghurt, in the middle of the day with a nice glass of Kombucha and for dinner with dishes rich in fibre.

Now let's find out when to take prebiotics. Assuming that the doses must not exceed 10 grams per day, it is advisable to distribute them in two times. Definitely in the morning and then optionally before lunch or before dinner.

Prebiotics and probiotics: a brief summary

Is the difference between prebiotics and probiotics clear now? To avoid further misunderstandings, let's make a brief summary of what has been said, emphasizing functions and benefits where you can find both solutions. 

Prebiotics are soluble fibers while probiotics are good bacteria. The former are the nourishment of the latter and promote their development and proliferation. 

Even if both are a panacea for the intestinal flora, they perform different functions: prebiotics act on different spheres, also helping to improve cognitive, metabolic and sleep-wake rhythms; probiotics are more suitable for solving problems related above all to the intestine and can be associated with antibiotic therapies to alleviate the negative effects on the stomach. 

Symbiotics: that mix for a healthy intestine

And then there are the so-called symbiotics, that is to say a mix of prebiotics and probiotics which together have an even more effective action. 

We can easily find them in various food products such as yogurt and fermented milk and they help strengthen the body's defenses and microbiota balance. But why choose to integrate the diet with synbiotics? Here are the most frequent reasons:

  • They help in case of lactose intolerance
  • They facilitate the absorption of certain minerals including magnesium, iron and calcium
  • They improve intestinal functions
  • They protect against inflammation and infection

Therefore, if prebiotics and probiotics alone are good for you, taking them simultaneously through synbiotics amplifies the results and maximizes well-being. 

The advice, however, is always not to take initiatives when health is involved: always asking the doctor's opinion becomes important to avoid making mistakes that could compromise not only the functionality of the intestine, but of the whole body.

So, take note of their benefits and qualities, but make them part of your diet only after being sure that they really make you feel good at 360 degrees.