Prebiotic vs. Probiotic: Which Is Right for Me?

By now, you probably know a bit about the enormous benefits probiotics provide for the body (especially if you follow this blog!). But if you’re not sure why you should be eating prebiotic foods, or have never heard of such a thing, let’s clear up the confusion.

Prebiotic foods are carbohydrates that feed your gut bacteria. They are grouped into 3 types: non-starch polysaccharides, soluble fibre, and resistant starch. Non-starch polysaccharides include things like guar gum, inulin and pectin; soluble fibre includes flaxseed and cruciferous vegetables; and resistant starch is found in items like plantains and white rice.

Things like guar gum are often used as thickeners in ingredients like canned coconut milk, and if you eat plenty of vegetables, you’re probably getting adequate soluble fibre. But what about resistant starch?

The Scoop on Resistant Starch

If you’ve been following a low-carb diet for a while, you may want to consider adding resistant starch back in to encourage good bacteria growth in your gut. Low-carb diets usually limit or exclude sources of resistant starch. But rather than adding inches to your waistline, these special starches get eaten by the beneficial bacteria. Just make sure you limit your intake to a small portion each day, and don’t go overboard.

Here are my favorite sources of resistant starch:

  • Potato starch

  • Green plantains

  • Green banana flour

  • Starchy vegetables like carrots, beets and sweet potatoes

Can I Take a Prebiotic Instead of a Probiotic?

The short answer? No.

You need both prebiotics AND probiotics for a healthy gut bacteria balance. Prebiotics will just feed the bad bacteria if the good bacteria from your probiotics isn’t present. And if you’re not taking a prebiotic supplement like inulin and you and don’t eat many vegetables, you’re in danger of the bad bacteria growing out of control and causing health problems.

More About Prebiotic Foods

More and more research about prebiotics is released every day, and it’s all part of a larger conversation about optimal gut health and supporting your beneficial bacteria. If you’re interested in learning more, read this article by respected researcher Chris Kresser about prebiotics and resistant starch.

And if you’d like some personalized guidance in incorporating more prebiotics and probiotics into your diet, get in touch to schedule a Breakthrough Session with me.