Prebiotic vs Probiotic: What You Need to Know

by Dr. Nick Zyrowski January 20, 2023

With all the talk about gut health lately, it can get a little overwhelming trying to figure out what’s really important. Are you confused about all the different strains you see for probiotic choices today? Have you heard that you may need to take prebiotics, too? If you’re exhausted with all the complicated information, you’ll be excited to learn it’s easier than you may think to understand the difference between prebiotics and probiotics and why you need both. In this article, we’ll show you how to support your gut microbiome and why prebiotics and probiotics are both crucial for your overall wellness.

What is the Microbiome?

It may seem like a term from science fiction, but your gut microbiome is a complex system that’s always working with bustling activity. Inside your gut, there are trillions of microorganisms. These tiny microbes include bacteria, parasites, viruses, and fungi.

When you’re healthy, these microscopic bugs coexist peacefully. The largest numbers are found inside your large and small intestines. You also have them all throughout your body. Your gut microbiome is like a supporting organ that plays crucial roles in helping to promote daily bodily operations.

These microbes inside your gut can be helpful, and at times, potentially harmful. When there’s an imbalance in your microbiome, dysbiosis occurs. That eventually results in illnesses and diseases. (1)

Prebiotic and Probiotic Functions

Prebiotics and probiotics are both crucial for building and maintaining healthy bacteria to support the gut. These microorganisms also aid in proper digestion.


Prebiotics work as food for bacteria and other healthy organisms in the gut. These are components of some of the foods your body cannot digest. Prebiotics may support a healthy gut microbiome and help with better digestion. Prebiotics stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria, making them crucial food for those specific strains. Bifidobacteria and lactobacillus are two of these strains that strengthen the immune system. (2) The stimulation of your immune function is one of the most important properties of prebiotics. Some of the main issues prebiotics help with are:

  • Colorectal cancer prevention
  • Protection from undesirable organisms
  • Inflammatory bowel disease prevention
  • Relieves constipation
  • Improves brain function
  • May help prevent obesity
  • Improves absorption of nutrients
  • May lower cholesterol


Probiotics are live bacteria that when consumed provide health benefits to your body. These good bacteria help eliminate the bad bacteria that can be harmful and cause illnesses. Probiotics are necessary to return healthy gut balance when you’re unwell. (3)

When many people think of bacteria, it has a negative connotation. Yet, you always have two kinds of bacteria living inside and on your body, both good and bad. Probiotics are good bacteria that help keep you healthy by stimulating the immune system and fighting off pathogens that cause you to get sick.

Difference between Prebiotics and Probiotics

The easiest way to envision the differences between these two is to think of prebiotics as the before and probiotics as the after part of this crucial combination. Prebiotics act as food for your microflora, so they help to improve the balance of these microorganisms.

Prebiotics are in foods like greens, onions, bananas, garlic, and other dietary sources. Probiotics are found in foods like sauerkraut and yogurt.

Why do you need both?

Since you need prebiotics to feed specific probiotic strains, you must have both for your body to function properly. If you want the good bacteria in your gut microbiome to thrive, having adequate amounts of prebiotics is necessary. Getting a substantial dose of both can help make your probiotics more effective. Many products underestimate the need for sufficient amount and diversity of prebiotics to do the job.

When you use prebiotics and probiotics synergistically, you’ll get healthy intestinal microbial balance and digestive support. In today’s environment, it’s nearly impossible to get all the prebiotics and probiotics you need from food. The next generation sources are human, soil-based and because they are the most natural. You want to use a clinically dosed formula that contains adequate amounts of both.

The MyByome Kits cover a complete range of soil-based and next generation prebiotics and probiotics to enhance their overall health benefits. The latest in scientific research supports the power of the microbiome to influence, not only gut health, but overall wellbeing! The MyByome & Alimentum Labs kits use gut specific probiotics and complementary prebiotics to promote healthy digestion, immunity, and energy metabolism.  Derma µBiomic features probiotics for skin health. Immuno Byome Kit features prebiotics and probiotics for immune health and is great for optimal development of a healthy and effective immune system. Terra Superfood & Terra uBiomic contains soil-based terrain probiotics with prebiotics to aid in introducing a variety of microbes into your microbiome. NeuroByome - Gut Axis Prebiotic and Probiotic System is utilized to positively influence the natural state of well-being and neurological health. These prebiotic and probiotic blends contain no dairy, sugar, or egg ingredients. They are also gluten-free and have no GMOs.

In our clinic, we utilize these probiotic and prebiotic kits in nearly every protocol to simultaneously work on rebuilding the gut microbiome with proven microbes that promote the health of our patients.

Finding the Right Option

You don’t have to go far to find tons of options for prebiotics and probiotics today. Every grocery store and health food store has them on the shelves. So, why not pick up one of these options that may be cheaper?

Unfortunately, many marketing gimmicks prey on people wanting to better their health. You may look at the ingredients and think popping a capsule each day will bring you lots of health benefits. For the weeks that follow, you may find you don’t feel any different.

In some of the garden variety supplements found in stores, the bacteria strains are dead. At one time, the bottle may have contained billions of live strains, but by the time it reaches stores, they could all be dead, which means you purchase nothing more than a placebo. (5) When you buy a supplement, you want to know that it will work with your digestive tract so that you’ll see results. That means the bacteria need to make it through your stomach and not die upon coming into contact with your stomach acid.

You also want to get balanced strains. Some popular brands may tout billions of bacteria, but if the strains aren’t diverse, it may be to no avail. Often, you could do with a lower bacteria count and more strains.

Increasing Prebiotics and Probiotics

Aside from proper supplementation, you can increase prebiotics and probiotics through your diet. Fermented foods are an excellent way to get more probiotics. Eating more foods like asparagus, onions, apples, and oats will help increase prebiotics. (6)

A healthy diet will combine both of these to get the most benefit. There are some incredible food options that will give you sources of natural prebiotics and probiotics. Still, it’s important to note that most people will need supplementation to see substantial benefits to their health.

Improving Gut Health Naturally

When it comes to health, you can never discount proper nutrition, which includes quality supplements and exercise. Until recently, even many healthcare agencies didn’t know that prebiotics were necessary additives for probiotics to function and thrive.

We now know that numerous diseases are associated with gut microbiome imbalances. Rather than using dangerous pharmaceuticals to treat the symptoms, why not use natural sources to get to the root cause of these issues?

Combining prebiotics and probiotics will give your gut microbiota an environment to flourish and protect you from deadly pathogens. A properly functioning gut is critical for your wellness. Give us a call today to learn more. Remember, you need a healthy gut for a strong immune system, and your immune system is your body’s first line of defense against illness and disease.

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Dr. Nick Zyrowski
Dr. Nick Zyrowski