Why You Should Always Start With a Prebiotic Instead of a Probiotic
Prebiotic Supplements Are Often Much More Important (and effective) Than Probiotic Supplements
By Beau Berman
Co-Founder, Layer Origin Nutrition
You enter a vitamin store and walk over to the probiotic section. You've heard they're good for gut health, so you figured you'd try them. You stare at the wall of probiotic choices, each presenting alluring packaging with compelling statements. One of them with a professional-looking label catches your eye, so you take it up to the counter and pay for it. Sound familiar? If so, you're not alone. This is how most people purchase a probiotic. Whether buying one in a store or online, most people buy whichever probiotic looks good and/or has good reviews without considering the specifics of that product or whether or not it's a good choice for their unique needs.
In reality, it's not advisable to randomly select just any probiotic off the shelf. Instead, it would be best if you started with a prebiotic. Why is starting with a prebiotic a better choice? We'll be answering that question and more in this article, but first, let's cover some basics.
What is a probiotic?
- Probiotics are tiny living microorganisms, including bacteria and yeast, that offer health benefits to your body. When you ingest probiotics, either from foods or supplements, they make their way to your gut and impact your health in several beneficial ways.
- Probiotic bacteria, such as Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Akkermansia, help create order in your gut microbiome by maintaining the correct level of acidity and killing off bad bacteria. They also help break down and digest food, boost the immune system, and keep inflammation at bay.
- Probiotics are often praised for their ability to remedy common gut complaints such as bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. Additionally, in fascinating recent research, studies show that probiotics may help boost mood and cognitive function, as the gut and brain are intrinsically connected.1
What is a prebiotic?
- Prebiotics are compounds found in food or supplements that induce the growth or activity of beneficial bacteria in the gut. Think of them as food for probiotics.
- Prebiotics don't contain any bacteria themselves—they're actually indigestible compounds that bypass the small intestine and travel to the colon, where they're broken down into nutrition that helps beneficial bacteria flourish.
- In addition to nourishing, health-promoting bacteria, prebiotics also help reduce common digestive issues, increase mineral bioavailability, and improve satiety and weight loss.2 One study even showed that prebiotics had an anti-depressant effect in mice.3
Factors that most people don't consider when choosing a probiotic
The average person has little to no idea what type of probiotic supplement they're taking, why they bought it, and why it may or may not be suitable for them. For example, most people don't know:
- How many CFUs a probiotic should have
- How many strains it should have
- Whether or not it should be refrigerated
- Which strains are beneficial for their body
- What price point would indicate that it's a high-quality product
- Which brands are reputable
- What sort of results they should be anticipating
- What kind of side effects they should be aware of
Without a good understanding of the above information, taking a probiotic could result in unfavorable side effects and/or suboptimal results. That's why it's always best to seek out the guidance of a physician, whether it's a traditional medical doctor or a naturopathic doctor, who can analyze your body and health status and recommend the best probiotic for your unique health goals and needs.
Why you should start with a prebiotic
In addition to the aforementioned information, most people don't know that prebiotics are necessary to grow and boost probiotic populations.
Remember, prebiotics are the food that feed probiotics — so if you're not getting enough prebiotics through your diet or supplementation, a probiotic supplement won't be able to do its job correctly.
If you're unable to consult with a doctor about probiotics, waiting for an appointment, or just want to get the ball rolling to improve your gut health, start by taking a prebiotic supplement.
You can take a prebiotic supplement without taking a probiotic supplement and still reap its benefits because our guts naturally contain beneficial bacteria.
By taking a prebiotic supplement on its own, you'll be effectively nourishing the trillions of good bacteria that are already present in your gastrointestinal tract.
The most effective type of prebiotic
At this point, you're probably wondering what the best way to consume prebiotics is. Prebiotics naturally occur in plant foods but can also be consumed in supplement form to boost the amount of prebiotics you receive.
However, when it comes to the most effective types of prebiotic supplements, clinical research shows that one stands tall above the rest: human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs).4
HMOs are indigestible sugars found in breast milk. In fact, they are the most abundant solid ingredient in breast milk after lipids (fat) and lactose (carbohydrates). They have no nutritive value but rather act as prebiotics in the gut.
While HMOs help build infants' microflora and immune systems from birth, they don't just benefit babies.
Adults can supplement with HMOs, derived via fermentation, to support their gut health, immune function, and cognition.
Boost your health and well-being with HMOs
At Layer Origin, we offer PureHMO Prebiotic Powder made with a type of HMO called 2'-Fucosyllactose (2'FL).
The HMO prebiotics used in our formula are produced using fermentation technology instead of isolating from human milk.
Research has shown 2'FL to be vital for digestive health by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria (primarily Bifidobacterium), inhibiting the adhesion of pathogens, taming inflammation, and normalizing gut movements (5).
As with other oligosaccharides, another main characteristic of 2'FL is its ability to protect against infectious disease.
The Bottom Line
The reality is, most people don't know how to select a probiotic that is best for their needs.
As such, it's best to seek the guidance of a healthcare professional if you'd like to take a probiotic.
You can, however, start improving your gut health right away by taking a prebiotic supplement, which will nourish the beneficial bacteria that already exist in your gut.
Make PureHMO® Prebiotic Powder a part of your daily wellness routine to support a healthy gut and, consequently, a healthy body and mind.