Prebiotics and Probiotics: What Parents Need to Know - Nemours Blog


Prebiotics and Probiotics: What Parents Need to Know

Prebiotics and Probiotics: What Parents Need to Know, Powered by Nemours Children's Health System

Prebiotics and probiotics are likely words that you’ve come across while reading a magazine, watching the news, or browsing the supplement aisle at the store. But do you know what they actually are or what they do?

Prebiotics and probiotics have been recognized through nutrition research as “functional foods.” Simply put, “functional foods” provide benefits that may improve health, wellbeing, and/or reduce risk of disease. An example of a functional food is live-culture yogurt that contains probiotics and prebiotics.

Many supplement manufacturer utah companies make probiotics and other supplements that are a source of these “functional foods.” Though keep in mind that this is not the only way to incorporate prebiotics and probiotics into your diet. Prebiotics and probiotics can easily be incorporated into your daily diet with a variety of natural, everyday food sources.

In fact, your body is often better able to absorb and digest the prebiotics and probiotics from natural food sources compared to dietary supplements. Though that, in turn, is because many people take probiotic supplements on an empty stomach or with foods that are detrimental to the effects of probiotics. Supplements can be useful if your child has an allergy to a natural source of prebiotics or probiotics or finds it hard to incorporate them into their diet.

So, what are prebiotics and what do they do?

Prebiotics are referred to as the builders of “good” bacteria. Yes, you heard correctly, there is such thing as good bacteria! They are a natural, non-digestible part of food and have been associated with increasing the growth of helpful bacteria in your gut.

Include more prebiotics in your diet by eating more:

  • bananas
  • soybeans
  • artichokes
  • asparagus
  • leeks
  • whole wheat
  • garlic
  • onion

So, what are probiotics and what do they do?

Probiotics are often referred to as the “good” bacteria. They are live cultures, just like the bacteria naturally found in your gut. Probiotics help to balance gut flora and may even boost immunity, gut health, and overall health. Some strains of probiotics may help reduce symptoms of lactose intolerance, prevent specific allergy symptoms, and have been used for the management of symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome.

Include more probiotics in your diet by eating more:

  • yogurt
  • kefir (similar to a drinking-style yogurt)
  • aged cheeses
  • kimchi (a traditional Korean dish made of seasoned vegetables and salt)
  • sauerkraut
  • miso (a traditional Japanese seasoning)
  • tempeh (a food made from soybeans)

Incorporating natural, whole food sources of this dynamic duo into your diet may aid in improving gut health and overall health in general. Get started by trying to incorporate some of the above mentioned food sources of probiotics and prebiotics into your diet! If you’re interested in starting a supplemental form, it’s best to first discuss this with your physician or registered dietitian.

Natalie Moore, MA, RD, CSP, LDN

Natalie Moore, MA, RD, CSP, is a registered dietitian nutritionist at Nemours Children's Hospital in Wilmington, Del. She specializes in liver disorders, rehabilitative nutrition, and general pediatric nutrition.