Prebiotics vs. Probiotics: What’s the Difference and Do You Really Need Both?


There are many factors that contribute to a healthy lifestyle: diet, exercise and sleep can all help create a well-balanced life, but there is something else that can impact our overall health more than any other lifestyle factor – gut flora. May Zhu, MBA, RDN, LDN of Nutrition Happens explains, the gut flora is made of small, but mighty microbes (the good bacteria) that can make all the difference between a happy, healthy gut and one that needs a little extra TLC. The good news is one of the easiest ways you can support gut health, and overall health, is by incorporating probiotics and prebiotics into your health and wellness routine.

An easy and delicious way to get in a daily dose of probiotics and prebiotics is to enjoy a serving of Lavva. Our dairy-free yogurts contain whole food ingredients like cassava root and young plantains, which naturally contain resistant starch, a good-for-you, gut prebiotic. During our fermentation process, the prebiotics naturally found in these foods are introduced to our proprietary blend of probiotics, fueling them to multiply and thrive. Every serving of Lavva contains food-based prebiotics and 50 billion live and active Vegan probiotics per serving. 

Fun Fact: Our proprietary blend of probiotics has been found to support the immune system, manage inflammation and protect against the effects of infectious disease. 

Here is the difference between probiotics and prebiotics and why you need both.

The Importance of Probiotics

Probiotics are the foundation to a healthy gut. According to the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP), probiotics are defined as live microorganisms that, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit to the host. Zhu further explains, “Growing studies have shown a correlation between our brain and gut – something often referred to as the gut-brain axis, which suggests that the integrity of the bacteria found in our gut could impact overall brain health and how the body reacts to inflammation.”

Although probiotics can be purchased in supplemental form, one of the easiest ways to get them is through diet. Allison Koch, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, Board Certified Sports Dietitian says, “Consuming probiotics through the diet versus a supplement is the preferred way to enhance your gut health due to the other nutrients found in combination with the probiotics in the food. As I like to say, the whole food is better than the sum of its parts.”

When looking for foods that contain probiotics, Koch says the important thing to look for on the label is that the food contains “live and active cultures.” If the label does not include this, the good-for-you microbes may have been damaged or killed during processing. Fermented foods, like yogurt, can contain probiotics, but remember Koch’s advice and thoroughly read your labels

Besides helping with digestion, probiotics can help keep the gut running smoothly and effectively. Probiotics make all the difference when it comes to our gut and overall health, but what we feed those beneficial bacteria makes all the difference in how they respond to creating a healthy gut. Enter, prebiotics. 

The Importance of Prebiotics

Although they often get less attention, prebiotics are just as important, if not more important, than probiotics. Prebiotics are a type of non-digestible fiber that plays a critical role in gut health. These plant fibers are a crucial fuel that help our friendly gut flora flourish. Koch says, “ In other words, for probiotics to work their magic in the gut, we need prebiotics to feed them.” Zhu seconds that sentiment. “Products such as Lavva (whether through food combinations or supplements) that contain both prebiotics and probiotics are called synbiotics, which ultimately help us increase the amount of probiotics we have and maintain the balance of good versus bad bacteria in the gut.”

Prebiotics are found in an array of fruits and vegetables, especially those that contain complex carbohydrates, such as fiber from resistant starch. These carbs aren’t digested by the body, so they pass through the digestive system to become food for the bacteria found in the gut. A quick internet search will yield a variety of prebiotic foods, but Koch recommends two commonly consumed foods that you probably already have in your kitchen, bananas and oats.

Probiotics and prebiotics may seem small, but despite being small in size, probiotics and prebiotics are the power couple of gut health.

Follow us @lovvelavva and tag us so we can see how you get in your daily dose of probiotics and prebiotics with Lavva.