Prebiotics and probiotics: found in our wellness staples, different yet complementary, they are key to vulva and vagina health.
Physical wellbeing and internal balance depend on a number of factors. While they play an essential part, prebiotics are often confused with probiotics; and yet the difference between prebiotics and probiotics is substantial.
What prebiotics and probiotics do have in common though is a number of benefits for our intimate health, overall health and even our skin! For this reason, we chose to use them in a number of our wellness essentials. (Have you tried them yet?)
The difference between prebiotics and probiotics
Probiotics are living microorganisms naturally present in our intestinal tract, that can also be found in a number of foods and supplements. Prebiotics are non-digestible organic substances that can favour the growth of “good bacteria” that make up the human microbiome.
Remember: just like the rest of our body, the vagina has its own microbiome (or vaginal flora), which is naturally populated by hundreds of bacteria and a number of fungi (candida albicans). A balanced vaginal microbiome requires low diversity and a majority of lactobacilli, aka the ultimate probiotics!
The difference between prebiotics and probiotics is quite obvious: prebiotics serve as food for probiotics. Let’s take a closer look.
Probiotics: what they are and why you need them
Probiotics were discovered back in 1908. The term probiotic is derived from the Latin preposition “pro,” which means “for” and the Greek word “biotic” meaning “bios” or “life”. These microorganisms make up the “good bacteria” or yeasts. To be considered “good”, and therefore enter the realm of probiotics, bacteria needs to meet a number of criteria:
- They are naturally present in our intestines.
- They resist digestion.
- They can adhere to intestinal cells and colonise them.
- They prevent the prevent the proliferation of pathogenic microorganisms.
Their major benefit is to promote a balanced intestinal flora, which in turns strengthens the immune system and prevents genital infections such as vaginal candidiasis.
Prebiotics: what they are and why you need them
Found in food, prebiotics are not absorbed by the organism. Just like soluble dietary fibres solubili and non-digestible carbohydrates, they are used by the intestinal flora as food for probiotics, favouring their growth and proliferation.
Prebiotics fall under two categories:
- FOS (fructo-oligosaccharides): a mixture of linear polymers of fructose, including inulin.
- GOS (galacto-oligosaccharides): a mixture of galactose molecules.
A number of fruit and vegetables are rich in prebiotics: bananas, onions, asparagus, artichokes, chicory, garlic, soy and oat. After being ingested through food, prebiotics remain intact throughout the digestive process and reach the intestine at their most efficient. Once there, they promote a balanced bacterial flora by favouring the growth of lactobacilli against pathogenic microorganisms.
Their action helps fight the “bad” flora and all the substances that bring negative consequences to the entire body. This process helps us absorb nutrients, including water and minerals, while getting rid of toxins.
Prebiotics and probiotics: why your vulva needs them
While probiotics strengthen the immune system and probiotic-rich supplements can help us prevents infections such as candida, prebiotics are just as important to intimate health. Just like the rest of the body, vulva skin has its own microbiome, a natural defense system that helps prevent common issues. Prebiotics can help strengthen the skin microbiome, by favouring the growth of good bacteria and regulating the production of sebum, which in turn might cause irritation and itchiness.
With that in mind, we created Restore: an intimate wash with a combined prebiotic and probiotic action, formulated to moisturise and improve skin health while fighting bad bacteria and fungi and preserving pH levels.
The key to understanding the difference between prebiotics and probiotics? Remembering how they work together to keep promote good bacteria, fight bad bacteria and infections and keep our vulvas, vaginas and entire bodies balanced, healthy, and happy!