Probiotics vs Prebiotics

Sonia Tzerefos
Adv.Dip Nat, Dip Nut, Adv.Dip WHM (Western Herbal Medicine), Credentialed Practitioner Life Coaching

Having spent a good six months of 2023 studying gut health, probiotics, prebiotics and how they’re linked to a plethora of health conditions I’ve learnt that knowing what’s going on in your gut is the key to being able to take care of yourself to ensure longevity and good health.

The key point is to know is we have our own unique microbiome that is ours and we need to feed them the right foods and “prebiotics” in order to keep them healthy and happy which in turn keeps us healthy and happy.

So what is the difference between the two?


These are defined as preparations that contain viable, microbial agents that have been demonstrated to improve health. These include capsules with specific probiotic strains as well as foods such as yogurt, kombucha and fermented foods. In Europe, the interesting thing is you can’t call a product a probiotic unless you have clinical trials that demonstrate that exact genetically produced strain has the benefit you’re claiming it does.

Probiotics have been consumed in the form of fermented dairy in particular since the beginning of time. They were considered medicine with ancient physicians such as Hippocrates and Galen for the treatment of gastrointestinal illnesses.

The one important thing I do like to point out to those that purchase probiotics online that promise the world… do they tell you what strain they contain? If they don’t then avoid them like the plague as this often means the manufacturer of these products is using whichever strain they can get their hands on at the time and there will be a lot of variability between strains used from batch to batch.

We’ve also now learned that there are specific strains of probiotics that serve specific functions in the gut and are important to be used, when we need that extra support in our health and gut health or when we are experiencing certain health conditions. For example, Lactobacillus rhamnosus (LGG) is one of the most researched strains of lactobacillus around and is used for multiple conditions including allergies, hay-fever, eczema, respiratory tract infections, periodontal disease and more.

If however you purchased a different strain of Lactobacillus rhamnosus it may not have the same effect which is why  the strain is so important.

It’s also good to know, that contrary to popular belief you can’t kill off your microbiome then simply reinoculate with probiotics and expect them to stick. Whilst probiotics do their job when you’re taking them, if you stop taking them for a few weeks they don’t move in and set up house in your gut, after those couple of weeks they won’t be in your gut anymore.


So then what is a prebiotic???

Prebiotics feed our own unique microbiome and come in many forms which include big sugars such as Lactulose, polyphenols (which are found in lots of our foods such as beetroot and blueberries), inulin, beta-glucans and glucomannan just to name a few.

Unlike probiotics, our unique microbiome stays put, feeding it the right foods and prebiotic fibres means we can encourage the good bacteria to flourish and discourage the bad bacteria from flourishing.  Think of it like a car park, as we feed the good bacteria we’re moving the old bombs out of the car park and replacing them with nice new cars which are much more reliable.

It’s actually more important to focus on the right prebiotics for our microbiome than it is to focus on the probiotics (although sometimes you may need the probiotics at different times to help things along). It’s also important to understand and know our microbiome make up so we know what to feed them and how much we should be feeding them.

Long term the right microbiome balance will ensure we have healthy Short Chain Fatty Acid Production, in particular Butyrate which in turn ensures a reduction in inflammation in the body and reduces our susceptibility or the impact on our body of different health conditions.

So if you’re finding yourself struggling with your health or are wondering how you might be able to improve your gut health then let’s take a look at what’s happening on the inside.

From the team at Mumma’s Own. (


Appointments can be made with Sonia either online or by calling our friendly reception staff on (08) 7231 1628.

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