Probiotics Learning Lab Impartially created by the experts at OptiBac
  • What are probiotics & prebiotics?
  • What is the difference between probiotics & prebiotics?
  • Should I take probiotics & prebiotics?
  • Are probiotics better than prebiotics?

...We aim to answer all of your questions here.

Probiotics are the body's friendly bacteria. Probiotic bacteria are microorganisms which are beneficial for the human host. Types of probiotic include Lactobacillus acidophilus, Saccharomyces boulardii, and Bifidobacterium infantis. Learn more about probiotics.

Prebiotics, on the other hand, are a food source for probiotics. A prebiotic is a complex carbohydrate which selectively stimulates the growth of good (probiotic) bacteria in the body. Prebiotics can be naturally found in foods such as leeks, onions, and Jerusalem artichokes. Learn more about prebiotics.

Both probiotic and prebiotic supplements have been linked to healthy digestion, good immunity, and increased energy levels.

Prebiotics are found naturally in foods like Jerusalem artichokes

Probiotics without Prebiotics

The benefit of taking probiotics as opposed to prebiotics is that if the body does not have enough, or the right types of probiotics, it is more useful to take a probiotic supplement, as opposed to simply a prebiotic which will stimulate growth of any probiotics already in the system. A very small minority of people find that prebiotics do not agree with their system (they can cause gas & bloating at first, although this may not subside), and therefore prefer to take probiotics alone.

Probiotics and Prebiotics

The benefit of taking probiotics with prebiotics is that you are effectively covering both grounds; replenishing the body's good bacteria, and also feeding the probiotics - for a longer lasting effect. In simple terms it is like giving someone a bunch of flowers, along with flower food to keep them flourishing for longer.

Prebiotics without Probiotics

Some people find that certain types of prebiotics can be beneficial for certain conditions such as constipation (others may find that a combination works better, or that probiotics alone work for them too).

At the end of the day, different people have different bacterial make-ups, and therefore find that different solutions work for them.


  • Can you take probiotics and still eat Activia yoghurts or other probiotics yoghurts?

  • Probiotics Learning Lab

    Hi Sia, yes that should be absolutely fine. It's very difficult to overdose on probiotics. For more information see our FAQ:

  • Hi docs think my son has toddler diarrhoea I'm trying him on probiotics for children to see if this helps. How long does he need to take these before we see any improvement ? Thank You

  • Probiotics Learning Lab

    Dear Sally, my colleague Jacob has e-mailed you about this. Kind Regards, James.

  • Should we take extra prebiotics with probiotics for travellers' diarrhoea protection?

    Also can you tell me if capsules are enteric coated to protect the organisms during passage through the stomach?

    Thanks for your help

  • Hi Roger,

    Thanks for your question.

    Prebiotics are really good to consume, as they provide food for the probiotic bacteria to grow on. However we do find prebiotics much more readily in the diet than probiotics - most fruit and veg contain prebiotics actually, with apples, bananas, onions and garlic being particularly good sources.

    Some probiotic supplements do not include prebiotics for this reason, and also because very occasionally some people can be temporarily sensitive to prebiotic supplementation, until their body gets used to it. For more information you can always refer to this FAQ on our website: 'Side effects from probiotics.'

    Omitting the prebiotic may therefore make supplements suitable for more people.

    Many strains are also proven to be viable with or without their protective capsule, and so are not enteric coated. It is worth checking individual products for more information on this, however.

    Hope this answers your query - you can always contact me directly if you need any further advice regarding our product range.

    Kerry Beeson BSc (Nut.Med.) BANT CNHC
    Nutritional Advisor

  • How do we know if a product covers both the large and small intestine? I know some only work in certain areas of the stomach and want to make sure whatever product I choose covers the entire stomach not just a part. Does that make sense?
    Also, does an upset in your gut flora contribute to weight gain, and does taking a pre/probiotic help with weight loss combined with healthy diet and exercise?

  • Hi Jamie,

    Thanks for your questions.
    I've emailed you directly with the answers to these, along with some useful advice.

    Wishing you the best of health,


  • I have been 'prescribed' the Fodmap diet by both my gastroenterologist & dietician. I've been using probiotics for several years. Do you know the whether probiotics have any high fodmap ingredients, or which products would be best for me (ie pro- v pre-biotics)?

  • I have severe gas problem, whenever I drink, for 2 days my stomach is full of gas and at that time I also can't breathe properly. My doctor suggested for me prebiotic & probiotic capsules for one month. Is it ok?

  • Hello, I need your help. My husband has had severe stomach cramps and diarrhea for over 2mths. He doesn't eat any vegetables and rarely eats meat. Would you recommend he starts taking probiotics along with prebiotics? I would greatly appreciate your help

  • Dear D. Sczar,

    Thank you for your question, which is one we see regularly.

    Probiotics alone are suitable for those following a FODMAPs diet, but prebiotics (i.e. Fructooligosaccharides) are typically avoided by those following this dietary regime, so a supplement containing both pro- and prebiotics may not be advisable.

    Wishing you the best of health,


  • @ VISH,

    Thank you for your question.
    Your doctor's recommendations sound like a very good idea to us!

    Warm wishes,


  • @Rosy,

    Thanks for your question, Rosy, and I'm sorry that your husband has been suffering in this way.

    First of all, I'd have to say that, if he hasn't done so already, he should really go along and see his doctor to have his symptoms thoroughly investigated.

    If his doctor is satisfied that the problem falls under the umbrella of 'Irritable Bowel Syndrome', then do please read our very comprehensive FAQ on this subject, which explains about our range of products and how they may be able to support the broad range of symptoms that can present in this unpleasant digestive complaint.
    Click on this link to the page: 'Which probiotics are for IBS?'

    Of course, diet is extremely important for good digestive health, and so if your husband is having to exist on such a restricted diet, then this is another area you could look at improving. Ideally, I'd suggest that you consult with a qualified nutritional therapist or naturopath, who should assess his diet and lifestyle, and identify the most appropriate and balanced diet for his needs, along with a supportive supplement protocol if necessary. From what you say, probiotics could play a helpful role in such a protocol.
    Check out or to find a professional near to you.

    Kind regards,


  • I've just had 8 days of antibiotics for acute diverticulitis, including some intravenous. I'm thinking how to restore gut health and if pre pro biotics might help?

  • Probiotics Learning Lab

    Dear Maxine,

    Thank you for your query, and I'm sorry that you have been experiencing unpleasant symptoms.

    You may be interested to read the following blog: 'I have diverticulosis: would probiotics be beneficial?'

    This should be able to offer you some more detailed information.

    With best wishes,

    Nutritional Advisor

  • I am taking probiotics for candida overgrowth. If I used ones for women it would not contain prebiotics - does this matter? Why does it not contain prebiotics?

  • Probiotics Learning Lab

    Hello Jess,

    Thank you for your question.

    Firstly, if you eat a healthy balanced diet that contains plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables and whole grains then your gut bacteria will still receive the natural prebiotics that are contained in these foods. Many companies will choose not to put prebiotics in all of their products as not everyone want to take them in a supplement form.

    But in the case of women's probiotics, the bacteria in these usually colonise in the vaginal tract, where they utilise the glycogen contained in vaginal epithelial cells as an energy source, rather than the type of fermentable fibre utilised by intestinal bacteria.

    Hope this helps to clarify,

    Kerry Beeson
    Nutritional Advisor

  • Is it ok to take two different probiotics together? I have diverticula problems and recurring UTI's.

  • Probiotics Learning Lab

    Dear Margaret,

    Thank you for your enquiry.

    In terms of having 'too many' probiotics, this will not be an issue, as it is very difficult to 'overdose' on probiotics. You might like to read more about this here:

    However, it is always prudent to check with individual products whether they are safe to be taken in combination with each other.

    I hope that this helps.

    With kind regards,

    Nutritional Advisor

  • Hello

    I am on Fodmap and am unable to have white onion, leek etc. How can I counteract missing out on these obviously important prebiotics. ?
    Best Wishes


  • Probiotics Learning Lab

    Hi Heather,

    Thank you for your enquiry.

    I'm sorry to hear that you’re not able to have some prebiotic rich foods or supplements due to your FODMAP diet.

    I must point out that low FODMAP diets are generally only recommended for a short period of time, and should be done with the support of a qualified practitioner. So, if you haven’t already done so, then I'd strongly recommend consulting with a nutritionally qualified practitioner to ensure that your diet is still healthy whilst on this diet.

    Your chosen practitioner will be able to provide tailored recommendations about foods you can re-introduce, and also which ones to avoid based on your personal experience at each stage of the low FODMAP diet.

    I hope this helps Heather!

    With kind regards,

    Nutritional Advisor

  • I take prebiotics (Inulin) can i take probiotics at the same time. No just same day but take them together or should o leave time between??

  • Probiotics Learning Lab

    Dear Lesley,

    Thank you for enquiry.

    It's fine to take your probiotic and prebiotic supplements at the same and you don't have to leave any time in-between.

    I hope this answers your question, Lesley.

    With kind regards,

  • When is the best time to take probiotic and prebiotic? Which one do you take first?

  • Probiotics Learning Lab

    Dear Desiree,

    Thank you for your enquiry.

    Regarding your first question, we generally recommend it's best to take probiotics with a meal, preferably breakfast.

    Many prebiotic supplements available can be taken at any time of the day. It's still best to check the usage instruction of your chosen prebiotic supplement.

    You can safely take prebiotics alongside your probiotics.

    I hope this answers your query!

    Kind regards,


  • Hi there, my dad is in hospital on a course of antibiotics. Is it okay to give him a course of prebiotics while he's on antibiotics?

  • Probiotics Learning Lab

    Hi there Linda,

    Thanks for your comment! One of our experts will contact you directly about this.

    Wishing you and your father the best of health.

    Warm wishes,


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