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A Beginners Guide to Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Gut Health

Probiotics have been consumed by humans for centuries, ever since the first fermented foods (like tempeh, yogurt, cheese, and kimchi) were developed. These delicious foods naturally contain healthy microorganisms that, over time, have been associated with numerous health benefits. Today, a wide variety of probiotic products are available to the public that address various health issues: digestive, immune, weight control, to name a few. 

Herbaland’s Probiotic Supplements

In the last year, the Research and Development team at Herbaland Naturals has worked hard to develop an effective delivery form for our probiotic products, and they landed on Probiotic Powder Sticks. This product effortlessly dissolves in the mouth (no water needed!), providing a delicious and hassle-free way to incorporate probiotics into you and your family’s daily routine. Each stick contains 10 billion CFU of probiotics composed of 10 scientifically studied strains. As a bonus, this product is enriched with 520 mg of a prebiotic blend that will help stimulate the growth of probiotics once they reach the gut. If you’ve grown weary of swallowing pills, these powder sticks are the ideal addition to your supplement regime!

To celebrate the release of our latest product line, we are launching a blog series dedicated to all things probiotic. We will dive deep into the fundamentals of probiotics and their impact on our health, with special attention given to digestive health, immune function, and women’s health.

In this first blog, we will discuss what makes a microorganism a probiotic and what the difference is between probiotics and prebiotics. Let's dive in!


What are probiotics?

Probiotics are microorganisms that live in various parts of our body. Their primary residence is the gastrointestinal tract (mouth, stomach, small intestine, and colon), but they can also be found in the lungs, skin, urinary tract, and the vagina. 

You might be familiar with the terms “good bacteria” and “bad bacteria”, referring to the diverse types of bacteria that coexist in our body. The delicate balance of these bacteria can have a significant impact on our overall health. When the population of “bad bacteria” increases in our gastrointestinal system, we are more likely to experience symptoms of a stomach upset, such as vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea.

But not every good bacteria is considered a probiotic! In fact, there are several characteristics that microorganisms need to meet in order to be considered probiotics (1):

o   They have to naturally be found in the human body.

o   After they are ingested, they must survive the harsh environment of the gastrointestinal tract.

o   The consumption of this microorganism must be scientifically linked to a health benefit for humans.

o   They have to be safe to consume.


What is a CFU?

Probiotic amounts in supplements are recorded as “CFUs” or Colony Forming Units. This measurement refers to the number of active microorganisms in one dose of each supplement. In Herbaland’s Probiotic Powder Sticks, each stick contains 10 billion CFU. 


What can negatively impact the good bacteria in our gut?

The types and quantity of microorganisms that colonize our gastrointestinal system are highly influenced by our diet and the lifestyle we lead. Some of these factors are (2):

o   Smoking

o   Living in an area with a lot of environmental pollution

o   Lack of exercise

o   Stress

o   Obesity

o   Travelling a lot

What are the benefits of taking probiotics?

In general, probiotics provide a wide variety of health benefits to consumers. We will cover in detail some of these health benefits in upcoming blogs. For now, I want to highlight a few essential aspects of probiotics that contribute to our health and well-being.

1) Microbial mass is a part of fecal bulk, supporting bowel health by diluting and eliminating toxins in the colon2.

2) When probiotics ferment fibers for food, they produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFA). These molecules are very important because the cells in our gastrointestinal tract use them as food and as an energy source, helping to keep these tissues healthy (3).

3) Probiotics help protect our body from pathogenic bacteria. One way they do this is by competing with harmful bacteria for nutrients and space within our gut, effectively inhibiting their growth rate (4).


When is the best time to take probiotics?

We recommend taking your probiotics around half an hour before eating, on an empty stomach. Also make sure to take your probiotics 2-3 hours before or after taking antibiotics, to ensure the probiotics reach your gut safely!


What are Prebiotics?

The term “prebiotics” often causes confusion, as it resembles the term “probiotics”. However, they are very different! In simple terms, prebiotics are food for probiotics. All living beings need food to grow and thrive, and microorganisms are no exception. This is why it is very important that we provide our microorganisms the nutrients they need so they can thrive - and in turn, they can help us maintain good digestive health!

Not all fibers can be classified as prebiotics. To be considered a prebiotic, fibers must meet the following criteria4:

1) They must arrive undigested (or minimally digested) to the small and large intestine.

2) The probiotics need to be able to use them as food. Not all bacteria consume the same types of fibers.

3) The consumption of these fibers by the probiotics needs to be associated with a health benefit for the consumer.

In summary, probiotics are microorganisms that help our body thrive, they also protect it against harmful bacteria. For them to achieve these essential activities they need food (prebiotics). Both probiotics and prebiotics need to be safe to consume and must provide health benefits. Taking a product that contains a wide variety of strains will help you develop a diverse microflora. Diversity is crucial to have a healthy and resilient microbiome in your gut that will translate into stronger immune and digestive systems.

As we continue our journey through this blog series, we will explore how probiotics are able to provide various health benefits to consumers. Stay tuned for more insights and guidance on how you can optimize your health with the power of probiotics and prebiotics!


Dive into our blog series for insights on probiotics vs prebiotics, and their immense health benefits, from bolstering gut flora to enhancing overall well-being. Join us to unlock the secrets of probiotics and enrich your daily health routine with our cutting-edge supplements.


FDA Disclosure:

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Dr Katia Caballero, Herbaland R&D

My name is Dr. Katia Caballero, I have a PhD in Human Nutrition and experience in the fields of food science, biotechnology, and clinical nutrition. I currently work at Herbaland Naturals as a Research and Development Technician, looking to find new and innovative ways to make gummies healthy, nutritious, and fun.



  1.     Sanders, M. E. How Do We Know When Something Called “Probiotic” Is Really a Probiotic? A Guideline for Consumers and Health Care Professionals. Funct. Food Rev. 1, 3–12 (2009).
  2.     Conlon, M. A. & Bird, A. R. The Impact of Diet and Lifestyle on Gut Microbiota and Human Health. Nutrients 7, 17–44 (2014).
  3.     Topping, D. L. & Clifton, P. M. Short-Chain Fatty Acids and Human Colonic Function: Roles of Resistant Starch and Nonstarch Polysaccharides. Physiol. Rev. 81, 1031–1064 (2001).
  4.     Markowiak, P. & Śliżewska, K. Effects of Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Synbiotics on Human Health. Nutrients 9, 1021 (2017).


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