Prebiotic or probiotic.  Which is more important?  Which should you choose?


By now everyone is pretty familiar with the concept of probiotics and how beneficial they are for our overall health. Particularly our digestive health. But what about prebiotics? What are they for? Read on to discover whether you should opt for a prebiotic or probiotic.


Which is best – a prebiotic or probiotic?


Probiotics are beneficial microorganisms that live in our large intestines. They are instrumental in ensuring we have robust immune health, they regulate our mood and of course assist in digesting and absorbing nutrients, not to mention hundreds of other positive actions in the body.

Prebiotics on the other hand are what probiotics need to survive and flourish. They are a type of fibre which travels through the small intestine undigested, which then provides fuel for our probiotics to ferment. As with all high-fibre foods prebiotic fibre passes through the small intestine undigested. It then arrives in the large intestine and provides fuel for the good bacteria to ferment and thrive on.

So you can safely say, as much as you need your probiotics for great health, you also need prebiotics to keep them well fed so they can multiply and flourish.

Given how important they are, prebiotics are still largely underrepresented in the typical Western diet.

Unfortunately this can result in issues such as –

  • Indigestion
  • Poor immunity
  • Weight gain
  • Inflammation


What’s best to consume?  A prebiotic or probiotic?


A combination of both is ideal – although if you’re supplementing there is a caveat which I’ll come to in a bit.

Both are vitally important to maintain great health. While your beneficial bacteria provide an array of health benefits, prebiotics ensure they are healthy and plentiful – they really amplify the benefits that probiotics provide.

Prebiotics can be broken down into the following categories –

Fructooligosaccarides – you may find this as a supplement shortened to FOS.

Inulin – the notorious gas producing Jerusalem artichokes are high in this.

Galactooligosaccharides – when looking at supplements you may find this shortened to GOS.

Some foods provide natural sources of prebiotics –

  • Leeks
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Chicory

So use these liberally in your cooking. For example use onions as a base for soups, stews and curries. You can add leeks to these and you would barely notice they’re there as they dissolve almost to nothing when they’re cooked.


The absolute best way to ensure you’re getting plenty of great quality prebiotic fibre from a wide variety of different types of fruit and veg is to join a veg box scheme. We’re all guilty of buying the same food over and over again when we shop in the supermarket (which is not ideal for our gut health), but if you join a box scheme it’s a great way to encourage you to get more variety in your diet.


I’ve been a huge fan of Riverford for many years, their produce not only tastes so much nicer, you can be confident it’s not covered in pesticides or other chemical fertilisers (which also are detrimental to your gut flora, and hormones). If you’d like to give them a try feel free to use my referral code to get £15 off – click here to learn more.


Use liberal amounts of garlic for flavour and chicory in salads.

If you increase your intake of prebiotic foods you can look forward to amazing benefits such as –

  • Less indigestion and bloating
  • Improved digestion
  • Better immune function
  • Balanced hormones
  • Greater resilience to stress
  • You’ll be less likely to gain weight


If you want to supplement, which one is best – a prebiotic or probiotic?

A combination is ideal and you can look forward to optimised body functions such as –

  • Nutrient absorption
  • Improved mood
  • Generally better gut health (there is a caveat to this, so more in a bit)


Therefore you can see that by passing through into the large intestine and feeding the beneficial bacteria, prebiotics play a vital role in increasing levels of gut bacteria such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria, and ensuring great diversity.


Ensuring you’re eating a diverse diet, which  is rich in prebiotic fibre, to keep your microbiome healthy, can be a nightmare when you’re suffering with your gut.  Especially as so many of these prebiotic foods are also big trigger foods. If this is the case for you I’d highly recommend downloading my online course The Ultimate Gut Health Programme to help you eat safely, whilst avoiding triggering symptoms.


It’d be impossible to include all you need to know in one blog, but the programme will have all you need to know to ensure you’re soothing your digestive system, whilst eating delicious and filling foods.

Beware: If you’re experiencing ongoing digestive problems

As I keep mentioning there is something you need to be aware of:  If you have ongoing gut problems which you can’t get to the bottom of I’d always recommend testing first.



Because if you begin to experiment with either prebiotic or probiotic supplements you may make your symptoms worse. In these types of situations you need to establish what the root cause of your problem is. For example, you may already have established that you need to avoid foods high in prebiotic fibre such as garlic or onions, as they may make your bloating worse.




For example you may have –

  • An imbalance of gut flora
  •  Microbes in the wrong place (SIBO)
  • Inflammation, parasites or an infection
  • Food intolerances could be playing a part.

Testing will allow us to design the correct supplement programme for your needs.

So, it’s vital at the outset to establish what’s causing your problem before taking any probiotics or prebiotics. 



This doesn’t apply if your gut is already functioning OK,.  Then you can take a probiotic and prebiotic to keep things ticking over nicely, or for extra reassurance whilst travelling, for example.


If you would like to speak to me about any aspect of your gut health, then please use this link to book into my diary for a FREE 30 minute chat so I can find out more about what is going on for you.  Alternatively please use the ‘Learn More’ link below.

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