Understanding The Difference Between Prebiotics, Probiotics, or Synbiotics

What Are Probiotics?

You must have heard there are certain bacteria that are actually beneficial for our health. Probiotic is a prime example of this category. We consume probiotics daily either through the food we eat or through medicines and supplements. Although human bodies naturally have a good amount of probiotics, taking good quality supplements helps the body to have an even better quantity of these positive bugs so that they can easily interact with the intestine to support the digestive system as well as strengthening the immune system.

When considering supplementation for probiotics, it’s fairly important that you consider the quality because there are several different types of probiotics. It is better to find yourself a supplement that includes three layers of probiotic bacteria; the L. casei, L. rhamnosus and the L. acidophilus. 

These strains of probiotics have been studied and several studies have proven that they work well separately as well as when they are teamed together to promote microbiome to enhance the overall health. 

There are several probiotics that offer benefits in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and diarrhoea that is linked to antibiotics. Some doctors also recommend the use of probiotics to cure respiratory tract infections. However, probiotics are generally used as supplements or vitamin to promote good health. (Sungh & M.D, 2020)


What Are Prebiotics?

Prebiotics are mostly non-digestible fibres that give proper nourishment for the good bacteria. The good bugs in our body need prebiotics as a fertilizer. Prebiotic, in simpler terms, is defined as a substrate or a layer that is purposely used by the host-microbiome to help promote health benefits. Prebiotics are very important for enhancing our health and we consume these non-digestible carbs almost on a daily basis when we eat things like onion, garlic, banana, chicory root or asparagus. Several studies have suggested the benefits of prebiotics as they shape out gut microbiota, which is also improved with probiotics. There are certain fibres that are impossible for our digestive enzymes to break down and this is why these fibres are offered as food to the gut. Consequently, the growth of good bacteria in the gut is encouraged and fueled. These bacteria are already present in the gut. 

Research is still being done on prebiotics and its association with human health. Although we still don’t have as many reports on prebiotics as we have for probiotics, there are some very concrete studies that have established the positive effects of prebiotics on digestive health. (Fata, et al., 2017) there are several studies that have proven how the inclusion of prebiotics in our diet brings amazing positives as it establishes a well-balanced microbiota. Multiple pieces of research have also shed light on the fact that incorporating a good amount of prebiotic fibre in the regular diet (either through food or supplement) results in profound health benefits for the microbiome. 

There isn’t much work done on the relationship between prebiotics and disease prevention. However, there has been some evidence that showed promising signs of prebiotic helping in alleviating inflammatory bowel issues (FM & GD, 2013), obesity, helps in regulating glucose levels in the blood, and enhances calcium absorption to improve bone health. 


What Are Synbiotics?

When you combine the probiotics and prebiotics, you get synbiotics. This is also as important for the body as prebiotics and probiotics are, separately. Synbiotics are now heavily talked about because there are different prebiotic fibres are used in the stimulation of various gut bacteria strains. This is a great concept because it ensures that prebiotics can have an immense potential in altering the microflora. However, you should be careful because these alterations can only happen in some particular species of probiotic bacteria. 

An important thing to note about the Synbiotics is the fact that they don’t offer a particular health benefit. Instead, these bacteria come with benefits that are linked with the particular combination of probiotics and prebiotics. You’ll get these benefits packed in a Synbiotic supplement bottle. Therefore, rather than taking a specific symbiotic, it’s better to have a rich diet that has prebiotic fibres, followed by a probiotic supplement that is clinically approved to enhance the positive bacteria growth. This will definitely enhance the diversity of microbiome in your body, which is a great way to promote a plethora of health benefits. 


Science is working to unearth a lot of more details related to microbiota and how it impacts human health. Fortunately, science has proved through extensive research that our gut microbiota is regulated and improved as we consume prebiotics and probiotics and this greatly enhances human health. Although both pre and probiotics are transferred through a balanced diet, the supplements and medicines of probiotics have proven to be better in terms of re-balancing the gut microbiota, particularly after taking anti-biotics. 

The best perk of a probiotic supplement is that it provides the body with a specific bacteria if given in a controlled dose that is very much beneficial for the microbiome.

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