While the names are all very similar, they are different elements that are, nonetheless, related.


Nutrients that qualitatively change the composition of gut microbiota by providing “food” that promotes good bacteria growth. Prebiotics are mainly dietary fiber, like that you find in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.


These are the gut microbes themselves. They have been attributed with the health promoting aspects of the microbe ecosystem, including strengthening the barrier against infection, as well as the antibacterial, immune-modulating, and anti-inflammatory aspects. You find probiotics in foods like yogurt, kefir, kombucha, and kimchi.


Postbiotics are the metabolites of probiotics, or the components that result from probiotic activity in the gut, like fermentation. As intestinal microbes consume prebiotic fiber, the result of that fermentation or consumption is what is known as postbiotics.

To better understand how the three “biotics” work, it helps to visualize a factory: 

  • Prebiotics are like the fuel for the factory. They feed the workers inside, helping them to do their job better. Prebiotics are foods that promote that good bacteria in your gut. They’re typically dietary fibers naturally occurring in high-fiber foods such as asparagus, bananas, apples, barley and yams. Our bodies can’t break down the digestive fiber, so it hangs out in your lower intestines and fuels the growth of good bacteria and other microbes.
  • Probiotics are the factory workers. They use prebiotics as fuel to create metabolites that support your health. Probiotics are live bacteria culture and yeast. You can get them in functional foods like yogurt.
  • If prebiotics are the fuel, probiotics are the workers, what does that make postbiotics in our factory? In simplest terms: the goods the factory is producing. The hard work of the probiotics result in metabolites — postbiotics. Unlike probiotics, which are live bacteria, postbiotics contain the metabolites that they produce — essentially one of the main reasons bacteria have a ‘job’ and are so beneficial to your body.


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