HealthWACH: Healthy gut gardens


Many people get confused about the differences between prebiotics and probiotics. Not only do the words differ by only a single letter, but they target similar benefitsâ??improving overall health by improving digestive health through nourishing a healthy colon. However, they are not the same.

Prebiotic is a specialized plant fiber that beneficially nourishes the good bacteria already in the colon or large bowel. The body does not digest the plant fibers, but instead the fibers act as a fertilizer to promote the growth of the good bacteria in the gut. Both, prebiotics and probiotics, accomplish important health benefits for the gut, but before deciding between a prebiotic or probiotic regimen consider these facts:

  • Prebiotic powders are not affected by heat, cold, acid, or time.

  • Prebiotics nourish thousands of good bacterial species already living in the colon.

  • Prebiotic fiber is a naturally-occurring substance, found in thousands of plant species.

  • Prebiotics may be helpful or preventative for irritable bowel syndrome, or inflammatory bowel disease (Crohnâ??s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis), colon polyps, cancer, and people with a leaky gut.

Probiotics are live bacteria in yogurt, other dairy products and pills. Even though probiotics have been shown to effectively manage some gastrointestinal conditions, they do not have the same power that prebiotics do.

  • Probiotics are live bacteria found in fermented foods, like sauerkraut or yogurt, dairy products, and pills. There are hundreds of probiotic species available.

  • Probiotic bacteria have to be kept alive. They can be killed by stomach acid, heat, or simply die with time.

  • Probiotics may impact bad bacteria by crowding them out.

Certain probiotic species have been proven to be helpful for irritable bowel disease and for recurrence of certain bowel infections, like C. difficile.