Prebiotics and Probiotics: What's the Difference?

yoghurt with berries for gut health

It’s become clear that maintaining gut health is a cornerstone of female wellness, playing a pivotal role in the intricate machinery that governs our overall health and wellbeing. 

Despite its significance, it is an area often neglected as many focus on the more ‘visible’ areas of their wellness. 

However, the recognition of gut health's impact on everything from our immune system to our mental health has steadily grown, prompting an urgent call for a more comprehensive approach to nurture this vital aspect of our health.

We’re breaking down everything you need to know about prebiotics and probiotics, to discover how they can improve your overall health.

The growing popularity of probiotics and prebiotics

The popularity of probiotics and prebiotics is on the rise as a growing body of research suggests that a healthy gut microbiome is linked to overall health, and probiotics can play a role in maintaining this balance. 

Understanding the Gut Microbiome 

What is the Gut Microbiome?

The gut microbiome is a term that refers to the vast and complex community of microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi, viruses, and others, that reside within our digestive tract. 

This microbial ecosystem comprises trillions of tiny inhabitants, outnumbering the cells in our bodies and encapsulating an unimaginable diversity of species. 

It's essentially a bustling city of microbes living within us, with each microbe having a specific function that contributes to the health and functioning of our bodies.

These microorganisms coexist with us in a symbiotic relationship, forming a delicate balance that is pivotal for our health and wellness. 

These microbes aid in digestion by breaking down the food particles we can't digest ourselves, producing vital nutrients, such as Vitamin K and some B vitamins.                    

Introduction to Prebiotics and Probiotics

What are Prebiotics?

Prebiotics are a type of dietary fibre that the human body is unable to digest. 

They serve as food for the beneficial bacteria in our gut, fostering a healthy gut microbiome. 

Prebiotics are found in various foods, including whole grains, bananas, onions, and garlic. 

When were Prebiotics discovered?

The concept of prebiotics was first introduced in 1995 by Glenn Gibson and Marcel Roberfroid. 

Over the years, the understanding of prebiotics has evolved with ongoing scientific research.     

What are Probiotics? 

Probiotics, on the other hand, are live bacteria and yeasts that are beneficial to our health, particularly the digestive system. 

They replenish the good bacteria in our gut, helping maintain a balanced gut microbiome. 

Probiotics are commonly found in fermented foods like yoghurt, kimchi, and sauerkraut - you’ll also find them in Free Soul’s Probiotic Supplement.

What is the best way to take Probiotics?

As mentioned, probiotics can be found in a range of different fermented foods. But, the easiest way to make sure you’re getting the right amount of probiotics daily is by taking a daily capsule. 

The Free Soul probiotic capsules contain 16 strains of gut-friendly bacteria, in one single  advanced, easy to consume capsule. 

When were Probiotics discovered?

The concept of probiotics has been around for a long time, but it was Russian scientist and Nobel laureate, Elie Metchnikoff who is often credited with first suggesting (in the early 20th century) that consuming beneficial bacteria could have a positive impact on health. 

Metchnikoff proposed this idea around 1907, when he published a paper suggesting that the long lives of Bulgarian peasants could be a result of their consumption of fermented milk products.

Key Differences between Prebiotic and Probiotic 

Prebiotics and probiotics both support gut health but in different ways. 

While prebiotics are non-digestible food that nourishes the good bacteria in our gut, probiotics are live good bacteria that replenish the gut microbiome. 

Prebiotics are naturally resistant to stomach acid, heat, and cold, while probiotics can be sensitive to these conditions, making their delivery to the gut more challenging. 

Together, prebiotics and probiotics form a dynamic duo for gut health, with prebiotics 'feeding' probiotics, thus fostering a robust and healthy microbiome. 

It's important to include both in your diet to fully support your gut health. 

The Health Benefits of Prebiotics 

How Prebiotics Improve Gut Health 

Prebiotics play a crucial role in fostering a healthy gut microbiome. 

By nourishing the beneficial bacteria, prebiotics help maintain balance in the gut, aiding digestion, and promoting regular bowel movements. 

They also enhance mineral absorption, particularly calcium and magnesium, fostering strong bones. 

Other Health Benefits of Prebiotics 

Beyond the gut, prebiotics contribute to overall health. They support heart health by aiding in cholesterol regulation. 

They also stabilise blood glucose levels, offering potential benefits for those managing diabetes. 

Some research also suggests that prebiotics may support mental health, linking a healthy gut to a healthy mind. 

The Health Benefits of Probiotics 

How Probiotics Improve Gut Health 

Probiotics contribute to gut health by replenishing the good bacteria in our gut, crowding out harmful bacteria, and restoring the gut's natural balance. 

This can aid digestion, reduce symptoms of certain digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome, and support a strong immune system. 

Other Health Benefits of Probiotics 

Probiotics may extend their benefits beyond the gut. Some strains may help maintain heart health by lowering LDL ("bad") cholesterol and blood pressure. 

There is research to suggest that they also help improve mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression, further emphasising the connection between gut health and mental health. 

Foods Rich in Prebiotics and Probiotics 

Prebiotic-rich Foods 

You can boost your intake of prebiotics by incorporating foods like whole grains, bananas, onions, garlic, artichokes, and asparagus into your diet. 

These foods are high in prebiotic fibres, promoting a healthy gut microbiome.

Probiotic-rich Foods 

For a healthy, yummy dose of probiotics, consider adding fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and tempeh to your diet. 

These foods contain live beneficial bacteria that can replenish your gut microbiome. 

Prebiotics and Probiotics Supplements: 

Things to Consider Supplements can be a viable option if you're finding it challenging to get enough prebiotics and probiotics from your diet. 

However, it's important to understand that supplements should complement, not replace, a balanced diet. 

They also vary in terms of strains and amounts of bacteria, so it's essential to choose wisely. 

The Free Soul probiotics capsules are a perfect combination of easy to swallow and well formulated supplements.


Both prebiotics and probiotics play vital roles in maintaining optimal gut health and, by extension, overall well-being. 

A diet rich in both can help support a balanced gut microbiome. 

So, next time you're planning your meals, remember to include these power-packed foods for your gut health. 

By balancing these two, you're one step closer to optimal gut health and wellness. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Prebiotics And Probiotics?

Probiotics and prebiotics are both related to the health of the gut microbiome, but they serve different functions:

Probiotics: These are good bacteria that help your gut stay healthy. You can find them in certain foods like yoghurt and in supplements. 

Prebiotics: These are fibres that your good gut bacteria eat. They come from certain fruits, vegetables, and grains.

Can You Take Prebiotics & Probiotics Together?

Yes, you can take prebiotics and probiotics together. 

It is not prebiotic vs probiotic, In fact, they can work synergistically.

Prebiotics are a type of fibre that serves as food for the probiotics. 

By combining a mix of prebiotic and probiotic supplements, you're essentially ensuring that the beneficial bacteria (probiotics) are getting the nutrients they need to thrive and benefit your gut health.

When Should I Take Probiotics?

The optimal time to take probiotics can depend on the specific strain and formulation of the supplement, as well as factors such as your lifestyle and health status. 

A general recommendation is to take probiotics with or just before a meal. 

This is because food provides a buffer, reducing the stomach acid that could potentially harm the probiotics.

When Should I Take Prebiotics?

Once you’ve found the best prebiotic supplement, the time to take it can depend on various factors including the specific type of prebiotic, your personal health goals, and how your body responds. 

Some people may prefer to take them before meals, while others may take them with meals.

What Is The Best Way to Take Probiotics?

Probiotics come in a variety of easy-to-ingest forms; the most utilitarian way to make sure you’re getting your daily probiotics is through capsules.

Free Soul offers easy to swallow probiotic capsules that are guaranteed to get your day off to a good start.


**At Free Soul, your well-being is our priority, and although we pride ourselves on our expertise in women's health and wellbeing, it is important to acknowledge the individuality of each person. Features published by Free Soul are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease, or replace the advice of your GP. We always recommend consulting with a healthcare provider if you encounter any health concerns, and we’ll always be here to support you so you’re never alone on your journey.