By now you've probably heard about probiotics and their benefit to your inside and outside alike. But lately, there's a new wellness word that's been buzzing around and it has a lot of people scratching their heads: prebiotics. And while both are decidedly wellness trends at the moment, they beg the question: Can you take prebiotics and probiotics together and how exactly do they relate to each other?
Sure, you might be regularly ingesting probiotics, as well as perhaps using them in your skincare regimen (including by way of beauty-enhancing powders), but prebiotics might be a little less familiar. As a certified nutritionist, podcaster, best-selling author, and founder of wellness brand Solluna, Kimberly Snyder is well-versed on the topic. She explains, "Prebiotics are nondigestible fiber compounds that are used as fuel by some of the good bacteria in your GI tract by nourishing and helping to ensure that they thrive."
According to Snyder, everything from your mood to your metabolism can be affected by your gut health, which is why both pro- and prebiotics are so beneficial. "Toxins that accumulate in the body can come to rest in the intestines and the liver, the body’s filtering organ," she explains. "For example, free radicals can build up, leading to damage to the organs as well as chronic illnesses like cancer and diabetes." And what's more, factors like antibiotics, processed food and sugar, stress, and aging can throw off the bacteria in your gut.
That said, perhaps the best use of pre and probiotics is together. As Synder explains, "The reason that prebiotics and probiotics work together is prebiotics serve as 'food' for the beneficial probiotics — keeping them healthy and ready to thrive inside your gut." In fact, many brand's — including Solluna — offer products that boast them both.
And the good news is, pretty much everyone is a good candidate to use them regularly. "Anyone can benefit from having more prebiotics in their diet since they most importantly increase 'good' bacteria in the gut overall," Snyder says. "By having more prebiotics in your diet it can also support immune health, benefit digestive health and fight infections." So if a boost of immunity and a better functioning digestive system sounds like something you could benefit from, perhaps this combo is for you.
According to Snyder, there are a few things to look for when shopping for pre- and probiotics. "Some of my favorite sources of probiotics are researched strains of [soil-based organisms], which have been shown to be the most effective to improve mineral absorption, prevent growth of harmful bacteria, maintain overall skin health for a beautiful glow, and help reduce the frequency of bloating and gas," she says. Specifically, strains like bifidobacterium breve, bifidobacterium longum, and bifidobacterium infantis will have a powerfully effective impact on digestive health. For prebiotics, Synder suggests looking for Shilajit as well as Turkey Tail, and Chaga mushrooms, which studies have shown can help with immunity, anti-aging, and reducing inflammation in addition to their effect on your gut.
Ready to give them a try? Ahead find a handful of pre and probiotic combos that will get your body functioning at its best.