• Rebecca Luong

Q: What is the difference between probiotics and prebiotics for gut health?

Probiotics are live beneficial microorganisms ingested in adequate amounts. Main food sources: yoghurt, fermented milks. Prebiotics are types of non-digestible dietary fibre (oligosaccharides, fructan, resistant starch) that are selectively fermented by beneficial microorganisms to stimulate their growth and/or activity. Main food sources: chicory root, onion, garlic, Jerusalem artichoke, asparagus, leeks, soybean, baked beans, red kidney beans, whole-wheat foods, cashews, pistachio nuts, banana, watermelon, custard apples, breast milk.

Both probiotics and prebiotics create a more favourable gut environment. Beneficial microorganisms such as Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus are naturally present in your gut in a limited quantity. Different strains of species have different potential benefits such as reducing symptoms of infectious diarrhoea, antibiotic-associated diarrhoea, constipation, lactose intolerance, irritable bowel syndrome and ulcerative colitis. In addition, there are emerging studies on the benefits of prebiotics for reducing risks of colon cancer, improving blood sugar and improving calcium absorption.


  1. Check the label to see if there is ≥10^8 CFU of probiotics.

  2. Get your prebiotics from meeting your recommended number of serves of vegetables/legumes, fruit and wholegrain/high fibre cereals.

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Reid G. Probiotics: definition, scope and mechanisms of action. Best Practice & Research Clinical Gastroenterology.30(1):17-25.

Tuohy KM, Rouzaud GCM, Bruck WM, Gibson GR. Modulation of the Human Gut Microflora Towards Improved Health Using Prebiotics - Assessment of Efficacy. Current Pharmaceutical Design. 2005;11(1):75-90.

Roberfroid, M. Prebiotics and probiotics: are they functional foods? American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 71 (6): 1682s-1687s.

Mann, J. and Truswell, S., 2012. Essentials of human nutrition. Oxford University Press, New York.





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