Prebiotics vs probiotics: What Are the Differences and Uses

the main differences between prebiotics and probiotics

 A woman giving her dog supplements

The gut microbiota is a diverse community of digestive and skin microbes. It interacts with its host in many ways, including generating metabolites that can affect health and disease.

The main focus of this article is to explore how consuming prebiotics vs probiotics may change gut microbiota composition.

What Is A Prebiotic?

A prebiotic helps the growth of good gut bacteria. You will sometimes see probiotics marketed as "prebiotics" because they help to build strong colonies of beneficial bacteria within the gut. Probiotics do not produce nutrients but instead assist in the absorption and utilization of nutrients by helping to produce vitamins, antioxidants, antimicrobials, and more in your mouth and digestive tract.

Examples of Prebiotic Foods:

Beans and Legumes

Beans and legumes contain prebiotics in their carbohydrate content, including galactooligosaccharides. These compounds break down slowly, thus galloping the digestion of sugars for the host. Therefore, it is a significant benefit for bowel movements.

Chia Seeds 

Chia seeds are an abundant source of soluble fibers, which may benefit the gut flora in your gastrointestinal tract. These soluble fibers have a positive effect on digestion. They have been linked to reduced risks of some diseases, such as cancer and heart disease.

Leafy Greens

Leafy greens are a good source of many minerals, such as iron, calcium, and magnesium. Greens are high in prebiotics in the form of beta-glucans and contain fructooligosaccharides (FOS) that act as additional prebiotics.

Oat Products

You can get oat products as whole food or oatmeal, a good source of soluble fibers. Soluble fibers help to maintain bowel movements and are known to have digestive effects.


Psyllium is a soluble fiber that helps relieve constipation, improve digestion, and even lower cholesterol levels. It also prevents bowel movements as advertised. Psyllium is a great supplement to add to your diet.


Soybeans are a good source of prebiotics, which may be helpful for your gut health. They contain oligosaccharides and inulin, which can aid digestion and improve the appearance of the bowels, especially when combined with other prebiotics.

Wheat Bran

Wheat bran has a high soluble fiber content, which may benefit gut microbiota. It also prevents constipation and induces bowel movements.


Yogurt is a storehouse for good bacteria that help to improve digestion and immune strength. Yogurt contains probiotics that make it an excellent source of good bacteria, especially in the gut.

What Are Probiotics?

Probiotics are active bacteria cultures that assist in improving health and survival. Probiotics supplements help to create a healthy balance in the human gut with good bacteria and prevent bad bacteria from growing, such as yeast and lactose intolerant organisms. Some probiotics are yeast, while others are bacteria.

Example of Probiotic Foods:


Bananas are rich in prebiotics and may be helpful for those who suffer from constipation issues. They also provide minerals such as potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and selenium, which are essential to digestive health.


Blueberries are high in dietary fiber, which may benefit your gut microbiota. They may contain prebiotic compounds that encourage the growth of good bacteria in the gut and help bowel movements.


Kefir contains probiotics, which play a significant role in keeping your digestive system healthy. It is an excellent source of good bacteria and may be helpful for overall gut health.


Pumpkin is very high in beta-carotene and vitamins, which play an essential role in maintaining the health of your eyes. It is also a good source of prebiotics that are important for the health of your gut.


Potatoes contain a great blend of fiber and carbohydrates, making them a popular food item worldwide. It contains some fiber called resistant starch that might benefit your gut bacteria and improve your bowel movements.

woman showing her dog pet supplements Woman showing her dog pet supplements

Is It Better To Take A Prebiotic Or Probiotic?

Probiotics are more effective than prebiotics. Prebiotics are a fiber-rich diet that improves gut health, such as those found in beans and legumes. Probiotic supplements (such as probiotics combined with prebiotics) are not necessary.

What you eat is what matters most, not supplements in your diet. Concerning whether you need the help of supplements, research shows that you can acquire probiotic digestive health through your diet.

A prebiotic is a natural, non-digestible carbohydrate that selectively feeds good bacteria in the gut. They also alter the balance of gut flora more than antibiotics and are thought to be linked to decreased risks of some diseases.

Like probiotics, prebiotics are alive. They are unbreakable carbohydrates by the host (the person in whom they exist). Only specific microbes can help with breaking them down successfully.

Probiotic Nutrient Enhancer

Best-on-the-market w/ 15 Billion active cultures

Maximize Your Dog's Nutrient Absorption And Support Healthy Digestion

Learn More

Critical Immune Defense

w/ Turkey Tail, Reishi, Shiitake, & Maitake Mushrooms + White Turmeric Root Extract

Fight Viruses, Dieases and Cancers

Learn More

Should Probiotics And Prebiotics Be Taken Together?

A probiotic and a prebiotic supplement taken in tandem are more effective in aiding digestion and improving gut health. Some scientific studies suggest that supplementation with probiotics and prebiotics can be more effective than either supplement alone. If you take a probiotic and/or prebiotic combination, ensure you get enough fiber in your diet to absorb all the goodness these supplements can provide.

Which Are More Beneficial: Prebiotic or Probiotic?

Both prebiotics and probiotics have certain benefits, and while they can provide similar benefits when used together, they both provide unique benefits. Thus, the most suitable one depends on what you are looking to get. A probiotic supplement can be beneficial if looking to lose weight and control blood glucose levels.

Prebiotic supplements are the best alternative for those looking to ease constipation and improve digestion. If you are looking to fight diarrhea, both can provide benefits.

Do Probiotics and Prebiotics Have The Same Effect?

If you think about prebiotics vs probiotics, you will find both have similar digestion and health-related benefits. However, prebiotics increase the concentration of some vitamins, such as vitamin K and Bifidobacterium. Prebiotics also relate to increased weight loss and decreased blood glucose and insulin levels.

Probiotics, on the other hand, are associated with improved intestinal function. They help produce a healthy balance in the gut by preventing bad bacteria from growing and improving immune function. Probiotics decrease the risk of certain cancers, hypertension, and allergic diseases.

Probiotics and prebiotics can complement each other to make the gut healthier. They are also both similar in that they are non-digestible.

What Are The Benefits Of Giving Probiotics to Dogs?

Probiotics have various health benefits for both humans and animals. The use in dogs supplements digestive system health and wellness and boosts the immune system. They can also reduce inflammation and keep the immune system in check, which helps to ward off infections.

The digestive benefits of probiotics also help dogs with diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

What Are The Benefits of Giving Prebiotics to Dogs?

Prebiotics is beneficial for dogs because it helps promote a healthy digestive system and protects against allergies, diarrhea, and IBD. Some dogs may not be able to process prebiotics as easily as humans can. When prebiotics are hard for dogs to digest, it can lead to uncomfortable symptoms such as gas or bloating.

Fun Bites for Dogs are a great way to add prebiotic fiber into your dog's diet. You can make them from ground pumpkin seeds, which are great for helping with digestive health. These dog treats contain ingredients that benefit the immune system and can provide extra benefits such as arthritis treatment and weight loss.

What Are The Benefits of Taking Prebiotic Over A Probiotic?

Prebiotics can benefit your health and wellness, while probiotics may only provide you with the benefits of prebiotics. Prebiotic supplements (such as dietary fibers) can help with many conditions as follows:


Prebiotics promote the growth and development of good bacteria while inhibiting harmful bacteria.

Easy To Digest

Prebiotics take a long time to fully break down in the body, ensuring they have maximum beneficial effects.

Antioxidants and Minerals For The Body

Some prebiotics are anti-inflammatory and may also contain antioxidants that can help promote overall immune health, boost digestion and absorption, and activate the liver's detoxification process. Studies on rats show that high doses of bifidobacteria metabolites have a protective effect against colitis as well.

What Is the Difference Between Probiotics And Prebiotics

Probiotics are live, active health-promoting bacteria that are good for the body. These decrease the harmful bacterial infections in the gut and improve digestive health.

Prebiotics are non-digestible food sugars or foods that promote the growth and maintenance of good bacteria in your digestive system.

Prebiotics vs probiotics differ in their side effects, as well. Probiotics can cause diarrhea, while prebiotics are associated more with gas, bloating, and flatulence. It is best to speak with your doctor before taking either supplement.


Prebiotics and probiotics are both good for your health. Foods that contain prebiotics help with the growth and development of probiotics, which can have therapeutic effects on the immune system, lower inflammation, and promote a healthy digestive system.

These prebiotics can enhance digestion, relieve constipation, and improve bowel movements. Prebiotic supplements can help to treat IBS and diarrhea. Some dogs may be unable to digest these supplements, so it is crucial to speak with your veterinarian first.

Probiotic supplements for dogs are from live cultures that benefit the immune system and digestion. They are especially beneficial for dogs suffering from IBS and digestive problems such as diarrhea. Probiotic supplements come from bacteria found in fermented foods.

Reading next

what is msm for dogs including its benefits and dosage
A healthy dog in nature, enjoying mushrooms and flowers


Pet Wellness Direct does not intend to provide veterinary advice. We help pet owners to better understand their pets; however, all content on this site is provided for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional veterinary advice, care, diagnosis, or treatment. If you suspect that your pet needs medical assistance, you should contact your veterinarian immediately.