The Health Guru

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What’s the difference between Prebiotics and Probiotics?

Posted on | April 7, 2010 | No Comments

As the competition intensifies to provide healthy food products – more ingredients are being added to modify the profiles of food to promote health.

I frequently get asked: What is the difference between a product containing Prebiotics and Probiotics?  Are they the same thing or not?  And what do they do?

Both are scientifically recognized as components contained in or added to foods, that are beneficial to our health.  They promote interactions with the gastrointestinal tract (GI) for better digestion.  Digestive bacteria (or gut flora) make up 1 – 3kg of our total body weight.  The bacteria are extremely valuable for our health and immunity and are mostly developed from milk, uncooked fruits and vegetables.

Our body contains “good bacteria” that are vital for health. Probiotics are similar to the natural bacteria that our digestive system produces and travel through the digestive tract to our intestine.  Probiotics are typically concerned with the small intestine and their function is to help during the digestive process by facilitating the absorption of minerals and nutrients.  Eg. Bacteria in yoghurt, milk, soy and supplements.

The health benefits of probiotics are:

  • Prevention or treatment of diarrhea
  • Prevention or treatment of urinary tract infections
  • Treatment of irritable bowel syndrome
  • Decrease of recurrence of bladder cancer
  • Prevention of eczema in children
  • Prevention of colic in children.
  • Anti-carcinogenic and anti-microbial effects,
  • Decrease triglyceride levels
  • Stabilise blood glucose levels

Unlike probiotics, prebiotics are not bacteria. They are non-digestible food components which are not absorbed in the digestive tract. Because they avoid digestion, they reach the colon and are metabolized by the beneficial bacteria there.  In effect, Prebiotics “feed” the good bacteria.  Prebiotics increase the number and the activity of probiotics in the large intestine and colon therefore promoting digestive health.

On average, the human body needs 5g of prebiotics in addition to a regular diet so that the immune system is protected and energy is produced. Either we eat foods that contain prebiotics or we take prebiotic supplements to ensure overall wellness.

Prebiotics are naturally contained in fruits, legumes and whole grains such as bananas, berries, beans, asparagus, tomatoes, onions, garlic, artichokes, spinach, mustard greens, collard greens, kale, leeks, bread, cereals, yogurt, whole grain, wheat, oatmeal, flaxseed.  Additives such as inulin (soluble plant fibre) are used within products as a Prebiotic.

The health beneficial of prebiotics:

  • Increased levels of “good bacteria”
  • Reduced levels of bad bacteria
  • Increased absorption of minerals such as calcium
  • Prevention or management of diarrhea
  • Relief from constipation
  • Provision of daily energy requirements up to 10%

When we are healthy, our ‘gut bacteria-environment’ works perfectly and co-exist in harmony and balance without harming us. The “good bacteria” promotes good digestion, improving metabolism and makes us feel healthy.

When there is an imbalance to our ‘gut bacteria-environment’ our body can experience fatigue, sugar cravings, frequent infections and lowered immune function.

Therefore it’s important to have regular intake of both ‘pre’ and Amoxil Online ‘pro’ – biotics  for optimal health.


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    • Guest_4235 : HI, I started to have Starbucks breakfast recently. the sandwiches and wraps looks much healthier than other fast food joints'. I did research on their official website, where I can only find US breakfast items. SG's food items are slightly different, and their local website did not capture any.Could you please help to get some info on that? I love their egg white redpepper mushroom wrap.
    • Guest_1550 : i hope you post more articles on the calories! probably the kind of noodles or rice calories, along with the fruit juices!
    • Guest_124 : «link»
    • Rid : Like your blog, perhaps a compilation of top 10 hawker stall healthy food. For foreigners who don't completely understand the food, eating out on a diet is often difficult. =)
    • Guest_262 : YEA!! please advise more of the new year goodies nutriution facts!
    • Guest_2848 : HI, Nat, can you give some advise on CNY food? Yu Sheng, pork jerks and dumplings. Thanks!!!
    • Guest_2077 : I hope you can update more often
    • Guest_218 : Hello! could you do a post on nutritional content of local snacks - for example soon kueh, ang ku kueh, and malay kuehs. Thanks so much!
    • Fat belly : Hello! I'm confused. I've read protein helps in weight loss, but some articles mention it helps to gain weight! So which is the right one? I don't wan to end up gaining instead of losing. Please help! Thanks!=)
    • Ri here!!! : I love the article....
    • Guest_3919 : Hello
    • belmont : Thanks a lot. I really appreciate the nutrition info articles. :)
    • Guest_3506 : how much calories in white wheel shaped pellet snacks
    • s1190 : Hi there, I read a lot of your articles in one go. Great information, great work ! In a few articles you mention 400-500 calories a meal/dish is considered a lot / almost half of requirement. And the average female only need 1200 calories /day and men 1500 / day. I suppose that's basal metabolic rate right ? So If the person do some sedentary activities, the calories needed is more. It's hard to believe that 1200/1500 is the standard. Minus 500 Kcal to lose weight then all day long i could onl
    • Guest_2834 : Nat, totally agree with your post on bad PT. My previous PT always texting on his phone, ANNOYING~! and it was very awesome of you to post an artical supporting Pauline~!
    • Guest_2822 : Hello, I understand you did a post on Mr Bean nutritional content before! I recently visited their website and found out that they have a comprehensive listing of their product nutritional information. Simply go to their website and there is this nutritional information button (in a small balloon) for each of their product category under the "products tab"
    • Guest_3745 : Hi! Would love to know whether there is a significant difference if we ask for evaporated milk instead of coconut milk in certain desserts, e.g. Chendol, Or is it about the same calories since evaporated milk is fattening too? Thanks!
    • Sally : Hi Nat. I was wondering if you could do a segment on Pepper Lunch. I love that restaurant, but have heard that it is quite unhealthy. Thanks!
    • Cheryl : Hi Guru, I was wondering, would it be better to not snack at all, or snack on "healthy snacks that can aid weight loss" for example nuts, certain fruit (in moderation)... Because I have a tendency to snack a lot even when Im not hungry. Recently I did try to cut down on my snacking, but a part of me says that these snacks are healthy so I snack even more -.- so.... Any advice? Healthy snack or no snack at all?
    • Guest_160 : i love this cite so much!! thank you nat!
    • Guest_3627 : Update leh
    • Rachel : @Winnie: TaoKaeNoi's grilled seaweed is pretty low-cal and very yummy, only 15 cals for one whole big sheet! The classic flavour is nice. The other 2 are quite spicy.
    • Rachel : Hi healthguru, please do up another post on bubble tea! It'd be nice to know the actual calorie counts of at least the basic milk tea with pearls for each different brand (koi, gingcha, each a cup, sweet talk) etc as certain brands are notably less milky and creamy than others. Would really appreciate it xx
    • Winnie : Hi there! Thanks for your really informative and interesting articles! I wanted to ask you more about healthy snacks other than the ones you've mentioned from xndo. Do you have any tips for simple, cheap, low cal yet healthy snacks that we can get at most supermarkets? Would you recommend popcorn or nata de coco? Thanks! :)
    • Guest_120 : i eat pau too, thought its steamed n it shd be less sinful, but seems to gain weight by eating it every snack time in morning though.
    • Melanthe : Sorry, and all kinds of pau too! As I eat pau every morning and i am extremely curious.
    • Melanthe : Please do a calorie count for Jollibean pancakes- rounds, normal and crispy ones, with all the flavours: green tea, red bean, peanut butter and cheese!
    • tommy : Hello, I would like to know what's the daily intake requirements for male, age 34 - calories, fat, carbo, sodium or any important things that i should note in my daily meal plans.
    • Guest_1826 : Hey, could you do a review of the food in Cedele (especially the cakes and sandwiches)? A lot of Singaporeans tend to think that it's a place for healthy dining, but I am a bit skeptical. After all, cakes still do contain a lot of sugar don't they? How healthy can it be?
    • Guest_3475 : Hello health guru, I hope you can write a post on jollibean pancakes. Because they sell a variety of pancakes and I don't think they have the same amount of calorie as compared to mr bean. For example they sell peanut roll which is a lot bigger then mr bean's pancake.
    • Guest_2131 : Do u have a breakdown of all types if pau? (yan, redbean)
    • Guest_4047 : Hi! I had a bowl of Laksa the other day with fish, shrimp and noodles and it was amazing. However, I reckon there are quite a few calories in such a bowl from all the coconut milk added?
    • Guest_3664 : Hi, i love fillet o fish frm mcdonald. Always ordered one without tartar sauce, how many calories will that be?
    • Guest_60 : Hi Health Guru, does belgium waffles have more calorie then a 6 inch waffle?
    • Guest_682 : Hi, what's the breakdown for Lao Ban tau huay (aka beancurd)?
    • Guest_4220 : Hi Health guru, i'm curious about the nutritional facts for mc d soft serve ice-cream. how can it be so sweet and nice and only 150kcal? is the info reliable?
    • Guest_2835 : hey your blog is very informative! is it possible to do a write up for jollibean pancakes like you did for mr bean? thank you!
    • Guest_1872 : Thanks for answering my enquires regardign waffles.
    • Guest_1960 : Hi We are a group of NUS students doing a survey on Body Image Perceptions among Singaporeans. Pls take 2 min to fill in this short survey. «link» Thanks!
    • Guest_3774 : Does 60g of waffle equals to 7 inch of waffle?
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