Prebiotic vs. Probiotic: Which Is Right for Your Gut Health Goals?
Achieve your health goals by understanding the role of prebiotics and probiotics in your diet
Updated December 6, 2023.
If you want to improve your digestive health, choosing prebiotics and probiotics can leave you wondering which path to follow. But when working together, they can nurture the gut microbiome and reduce pro-inflammatory biomarkers. [1, 2]
So, let's explore their differences, use cases, dietary sources, and how to use them to achieve specific gut health goals.
48 blood and dozens of genetic biomarkers
Ultimate Plan: $699/test
HIPAA and SOC-2 protection
InsideTracker is a personalized health and wellness platform that aims to help people optimize their biomarkers to live healthier and longer lives. It analyzes genetics, behaviors, and goals to give you personalized nutrition, fitness, sleep, stress, and supplementation recommendations.
Why choose InsideTracker
InsideTracker offers DNA testing for dozens of genetic fitness, nutrition, and longevity genetic markers. Since genetics influence many aspects of your health, the app can provide helpful context and an action plan. It also integrates with wearable devices to collect real-time health data, tracking factors like sleep, activity, and heart rate.
Pros and cons
Comprehensive blood biomarker testing
Integration with wearables
Encourages retesting every 3 to 6 months
Personalized optimal zones
Customizable Action Plan
Not a replacement for medical care
DNA testing not available outside of the U.S.
What is the difference between prebiotics and probiotics?
Prebiotics are non-digestible fibers found in certain foods like onions and leeks, while probiotics are beneficial bacteria or yeast strains that nourish gut microbiota, helping it thrive.
Tip: You can create habits that positively affect your gut health by knowing the difference between probiotics and prebiotics and using each to your advantage.
» Find out how the gut microbiome impacts longevity
Prebiotic vs probiotic foods
- Garlic, onions, and leeks: These aromatic vegetables are a potent source of fructans, a non-digestible fiber beneficial to gut health.  Add them to your salads, dressings, or stir-fries for a healthy and savory twist.
- Chicory root: One of the richest sources of prebiotics, which can be a substitute for coffee. It's rich in inulin—a non-digestible fiber that acts as a food source for the beneficial bacteria in your gut.  You can brew Chicory root or include it in recipes.
- Yogurt: Greek or regular yogurt is a well-known source of probiotics. You can top it with a variety of fresh berries for a healthy breakfast.
- Kefir: Like yogurt with a thinner consistency, Kefir is a probiotic-rich fermented milk drink. It can be a base for smoothies.
- Sauerkraut: Delicious fermented cabbage dish that is also rich in probiotics. It's a staple in many traditional cuisines. Savor sauerkraut as a flavorful side dish alongside your main meal. It's a tangy accompaniment with probiotic benefits.
- Kimchi: A spicy and tangy Korean side dish teeming with probiotics. Include it in your rice bowls, sandwiches, or a side dish to diversify your diet.
Note: Ensure that the probiotic products aren't pasteurized. The process uses heat to destroy bacteria, including active microorganisms essential for gut health. 
Can you take prebiotics and probiotics together?
Prebiotics and probiotics can work together to improve the survival and activity of beneficial microorganisms in the gut in the process known as synbiotics. 
For example, prebiotics prepare your gut for healthy bacteria to thrive, while probiotics populate this environment with beneficial microorganisms, creating a robust gut microbiome.
Note: You can also take probiotics and prebiotics as supplements to improve the survival of beneficial microorganisms, but consult your physician to find the proper dosage.
Tailoring for specific health goals
Experiment with various probiotic strains to enhance overall gut health as they interact with different parts of the digestive system.
» Find out how gut health affects athletic performance
Secrets to a healthier gut
Consistency is critical when including prebiotics and probiotics in your diet. With enough patience and daily intake, you can get lasting benefits like reduced inflammation and weight loss. Remember that everyone's gut microbiome is unique, so what works for someone else might not be effective for you.
You can also use InsideTracker to improve your gut health with better dietary choices. Through blood, DNA, and fitness data, InsideTracker gives you actionable steps to improve your overall well-being.
InsideTracker doesn't treat or diagnose medical conditions. For any health concerns, consult a qualified physician.