Learn all about prebiotics: what's the difference between prebiotics and probiotics, why you need both, how they work, and how much you need in your diet.


What are Prebiotics?

Prebiotics are not bacteria like probiotics are. Rather, they provide the food for bacteria to grow. All prebiotics are types of dietary fiber (fiber we can’t digest), such as inulin, found in chicory root, asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, and other fiber-rich foods.

What's the Difference Between Prebiotics and Probiotics?

Probiotics are microorganisms that are intended to have positive health benefits when consumed or applied to your body. Probiotics can be found in food or in dietary supplements.

Prebiotics are non-digestible food components that help stimulate the growth of your good gut bacteria. Sometimes probiotics have a hard time colonizing your gut. Prebiotics help fertilize them, almost like fertilizing your lawn for lush, green, healthy grass.

In a nutshell, probiotics provide humans with positive health benefits by helping improve gut health, while prebiotics essentially feed the probiotics to help them do their job. Bet you never knew there was so much going on inside your intestines!

How do prebiotics work?

The dietary fiber found in prebiotics feeds your good gut bacteria, allowing them to produce the nutrients you need for a healthier digestive system. These nutrients include short-chain fatty acids like butyrate, which are essential to your gut lining integrity, and may reduce the risk of obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and inflammatory diseases.

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What do prebiotics do?

On their own, prebiotics are not of much nutritional value, with the exception of providing dietary fiber. But when prebiotics are taken with the right probiotics (together called synbiotics), or are consumed by friendly gut bacteria, they help produce the short-chain fatty acids critical for gut lining integrity and digestive health.

How do I know how much of a prebiotic I need?

Knowing how much of a prebiotic supplement you need can be difficult. When you Measure your health with Viome, you can find out not only the specific types of prebiotics that are recommended for your unique biology on a molecular level, but the exact dosages you need them in. That way, you get just what you need, nothing that you don’t.