prebiotics vs probiotics what's the difference?

Prebiotics vs Probiotics: What's the difference?

Prebiotics and probiotics are two types of dietary supplements that can have a positive impact on gut and overall health and well-being. However, they have different roles in the body and work in different ways to achieve a common goal - a happier, healthier gut microbiome and a happier, healthier you!

In this blog we will discuss what the difference is between prebiotics and probiotics, and why they're important in gut and overall health.

Why are prebiotics and probiotics important?

There are thousands of studies proving that both prebiotics and probiotics can improve digestion, help with weight management, boost the immune system, and even support mental wellness.

Consider your gut microbiome acts like a pond. The fish in the pond are the probiotics and the special food the fish needs to eat to not only survive, but thrive, are the prebiotics.

gut microbiome

A healthy pond is one with flourishing fish, who are also happy and healthy -because they are getting the special food they need.

Your gut microbiome acts in the same way - a diverse amount of healthy bacteria will help keep you healthier.  And this is achieved through eating a range of healthy foods -  including foods that prebiotic and probiotic.

So, let's dive right in!

What are prebiotics?


Prebiotics, are a special type of fibre that feeds the good bacteria in the gut.

Prebiotics are not live bacteria like probiotics, but they are the essential food source for the beneficial bacteria in the gut.

As mentioned above in the pond analogy, prebiotics are the key to a healthy gut microbiome, and are ultimately the cornerstone to health and wellness.

There are over 4,000 published studies regarding the positive effects of prebiotics (and in particular, chicory root fibre/inulin) of prebiotics regarding:

  • cardiovascular health
  • reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes
  • reducing the risk of obesity
  • reducing the risk of colorectal cancer
  • improved sleep, mood, energy and mental well-being
  • improved digestive health

For further reading about prebiotics:

Check out our blogs on 'What is prebiotic fibre?'prebiotics and mood, prebiotics and weight management and prebiotics and sleep.

Prebiotic foods

Prebiotics are found in some fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, including Jerusalem artichokes, dandelion greens, bananas, onions, garlic, asparagus, and oats.

However, the best source of prebiotic fibre is chicory root fibre, otherwise known as inulin.

What are probiotics?

probiotic foods

Probiotics are live bacteria that are beneficial to the digestive system when consumed in adequate amounts. They can be found in a variety of fermented foods (see below), as well as in supplement form.

Probiotics are naturally found in fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi.

When consumed, probiotics can help to restore the balance of bacteria in the gut, which can be disrupted by factors such as antibiotics, illness, and a poor diet.

It is important to know that probiotics need prebiotics to not only survive, as well as thrive and grow, ultimately creating a healthier gut microbiome.

By consuming prebiotics, you can help to promote the growth of these beneficial bacteria, which can improve digestion and support overall health.

Probiotics and prebiotics in your diet

According to the International Scientific Association of Probiotics and Prebiotics eating 3 to 5 grams of prebiotics daily can benefit gut and overall health.

However, as mentioned above, chicory root fibre is the best source of prebiotics - as 68% of of this incredible plant comes from the prebiotic fibre known as inulin. 

As a comparision to chicory root fibre, onions contain 16% inulin and dandelion greens contain 25% prebiotic fibre.

Looking for an easy way to boost your prebiotic intake?

An easy way to boost your prebiotic fibre intake is by drinking  fibrewater - the UK's first prebiotic fibre-infused water that delivers precision nutrition with 100% of your daily prebiotic intake in one bottle (4.5g to be exact!) and 20% of your daily fibre intake, too!

io fibrewater world food innovation award best drink innovation

Not only is  fibrewater made with naturally sourced ingredients, including chicory root fibre, and no added sugar or nasty artificial ingredients, it won the World Food Innovation Award for Best Drink Innovation 2023.

 Plus,  fibrewater is scientifically proven to increase healthy gut bacteria (probiotics) signficantly, and was recently shortlisted for the Innovation of the Year Award with Glasgow Caledonian University for this exciting collaborative study (1).

On top of tasting great and supported by science, because of the chicory root fibre used in  fibrewater it is backed by two authorised UK and EU health claims for:

  • Proper gut function
  • Slowing and lowering blood glucose rise


In summary, probiotics are live bacteria that can directly contribute to the balance of bacteria in the gut, while prebiotics are a special type of fibre that support the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut, and are ultimately the cornerstone to a happier, healthier gut microbiome and overall health and well-being.

Both prebiotics and probiotics are scientifically proven to be beneficial for gut health, and it's important to consume a variety of both in your diet for optimal health.

 fibrewater is scientifically proven to increase probiotics significantly, and delivers 100% of the daily prebiotic intake and 100% of the daily fibre intake in one deliciously refreshing bottle.

Get 20% off your  fibrewater order by using the code 'iolover20' at checkout. Click here to buy.


1 - Finalists for the Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards 2023

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