Probiotics Vs. Prebiotics: What's The Difference? Which Is Better?

When it comes to the overall well-being of our bodies, gut health takes the top spot. Commonly referred to as the "second brain" due to its intricate connection to the brain, our gut plays a vital role in maintaining the healthy and flowing state of our bodies.

We often hear about the benefits of taking probiotics and prebiotics to support our gut health, but with so many recommendations on the market, it can be easy to get confused about which ones to take, when to take them, and how to choose the ones that best fit our body’s needs.

It could all be a lot simpler if we knew the functions and the role each played in our body, so maybe it’s time we break down the do’s, don’ts, and how’s of taking probiotics vs. prebiotics so you can always trust and care for your gut.


The gut is home to trillions of microorganisms, collectively known as the gut microbiome. These microorganisms help break down food, produce essential vitamins and nutrients, and protect the gut from harmful pathogens. When the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut is disrupted, it can lead to a variety of health issues, including digestive problems, autoimmune disorders, and even mental health issues.

Research has linked gut health to immune function since a healthy gut microbiome helps regulate the immune system and protect against infections. Gut health has also been linked to mental health — since the gut and the brain are so closely connected, the gut microbiome can produce neurotransmitters that impact mood and behavior. Meaning, a well-balanced gut can equal a well-balanced you.


While probiotics and prebiotics may sound similar, they have distinct roles in promoting gut health.

Prebiotics are a type of fiber that the human body cannot digest. These natural compounds are commonly found in foods rich in complex carbohydrates, like resistant starch and fiber. Prebiotics act as a fertilizer for the good bacteria in your gut, promoting their growth and overall health. By feeding these beneficial microorganisms, prebiotics help keep the gut microbiome in balance and support optimal digestive and immune health.

On the other hand, probiotics are live microorganisms, such as bacteria or yeast, that are beneficial to the gut microbiome. Consider these to be the good bacteria that live in the gut (or your gut’s best friend). These beneficial microorganisms can help promote healthy digestion, boost immune function, and even influence your overall wellness. Probiotics work by maintaining a healthy balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut. By supporting the growth of beneficial bacteria, probiotics help keep the gut microbiome in check and support optimal immune function and normal inflammation response.


  • Garlic
  • Bananas
  • Asparagus
  • Artichokes
  • Legumes, beans, and peas
  • Oats
  • Berries
  • Onions
  • Dandelion greens


  • Kombucha
  • Yogurt (with live and active cultures)
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Tempeh
  • Pickles
  • Aged cheeses
  • Kimchi
  • Sauerkraut
  • Miso


It’s not so much that one is better than the other, but rather that incorporating both prebiotics and probiotics into your diet through food and supplements can help the two work in harmony with each other.

Prebiotics function as nourishment for the good bacteria in your gut, while probiotics are the actual bacteria themselves. When consumed in either supplement or food form, prebiotics and probiotics work hand in hand to promote a healthy gut.

So, is it possible to consume prebiotics and probiotics simultaneously? Absolutely! You can find them as a combined supplement. While probiotics are capable of functioning independently, incorporating prebiotics may enhance their effectiveness, but prebiotics alone may not provide significant benefits.

Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.

Featured image by Moyo Studio/Getty Images

Smile, Sis! These Five Improvements Can Upgrade Your Oral Hygiene Instantly

This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.

Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.

Fall Equinox: How To Make The Fall Your Season, According To Your Sign

The Fall Equinox begins on September 23, 2023, and it’s time to embrace abundance, gain clarity, and know that you are worthy of your desires. The Fall Equinox marks the beginning of fall and the end of summer and is a turning point of the year, where things settle in and come to fruition. The energy that fall brings is one of harvest, but it is also one of release, letting go, and finding your ground. Coming from a summer of intensity, drama in love, and overall moving through a space of deep spiritual growth- now that fall is here, we are ready to decompress, dream, and enjoy that which we have created for ourselves.