Probiotics are bacteria and prebiotics are food or supplements for the bacteria to help them thrive once the probiotics are in your gut.
What is a Probiotic?
Probiotics are live microorganisms given as a supplement either in a pill, a liquid, or a powder when ingested, and as a spray or cream when used topically (on the skin). The goal of a probiotic is to add bacteria to an area of the body where those bacteria will have health benefits.
For example, topical probiotics on the skin might fight acne causing bacteria on your face, or yeast infection causing bacteria on your vagina.
Oral probiotics for the gut can replace healthy bacteria after a course of antibiotics or help combat an infection like C. diff.
Probiotics can be found in foods like yogurt or fermented foods, oral dietary supplements, beauty products, and suppositories.
Probiotics have a long history and are even considered ancient medicine as people have long used fermented foods as medicines.
Learn more about how probiotics affect eczema and allergies.
What is a Prebiotic?
Prebiotics are the food the probiotic bacteria need to live and grow. Prebiotics are often isolated fiber because most of the healthy bacteria in our gut need high amounts of fiber to survive.
Prebiotics help the probiotics to win battles against bad bacteria.
Prebiotics are often packaged together with oral probiotics for the gut, because gut bacteria live on the food we eat. Skin probiotics, on the other hand, live off of oxygen and sweat that they get directly from the air and our skin.