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Prebiotics and Probiotics: What’s the Difference?

Have you heard the suggestion to take prebiotics and probiotics, but have no idea what they are or what they are good for? Same for a lot of us. Even though they have always been around, both terms have gained fame recently thanks to studies confirming their benefits. Let us explain what they are and their functions, so you can learn how to use them and give your health a huge boost.

Taking care of our gut

Our intestines are a literal entire world. A microscopic one at that, but no less interesting and vital for our health. The gut is home to a whole community of microorganisms including bacteria, fungi, yeasts, viruses, and even parasites. Together they are known as the microbiota, microbiome, or intestinal flora. It is a colossal society, estimated to be ten times larger than the total number of cells in our body (1). And its balance is essential to our health, as it fulfills various functions. Our microbiota helps us metabolize some substances in food, such as carbohydrates and fiber, and is being investigated for the role it plays in strengthening and regulating our immunity, among other benefits still being studied (2). To help with balancing this microsystem so it functions properly, there needs to be good bacteria forming in it (1). This is where probiotics and prebiotics come into play.

Probiotics: Wonderful Microorganisms

The name, derived from Greek, indicates pro-life organisms. These contain live bacteria that help improve and protect our intestinal community. There is plenty of research dedicated to discovering the support of these microorganisms that inhabit us. Every time we consume probiotics, we support our overall health, beginning with the defenses and daily cleansing. They are fundamentally in charge of balancing and supporting our digestive system while eliminating and combating obstacles, such as pathogens. (3)

Scientific evidence has shown, among other things, that probiotics help treat and prevent diarrhea due to antibiotic use, improve lactose metabolism, help lower serum cholesterol, and improve overall gut health and function which also allows for better absorption of nutrients from food. Although many benefits are still under investigation, the effects of probiotics seem extremely promising so far. (4)

The best-known probiotics are yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, microalgae, and all those containing Lactobacilli and Bifidobacterial. (4)

Prebiotics: Intestinal Fertilizer

If you've ever planted your favorite flower or made even the slightest attempt to grow a plant at home, you know that for it to grow beautiful and healthy it requires good soil, water, and fertilizer. Something similar happens inside of us, where microorganisms that live in our gut need ‘fertilizer’ for nourishment and to develop healthily. Prebiotics are not digestible and pass through to the intestines to ‘feed’ our intestinal flora. They work together with probiotics to increase their combined positive effects on the microbiome and, consequently, on our overall health as well.

Fruits and vegetables that contain large amounts of fiber and complex carbohydrates also contain prebiotics. These include, for example, deep green leafy vegetables such as spinach, artichokes, asparagus, and nopal, vegetables like onions and garlic, fruits such as bananas, apples, and blueberries, whole grains like oats, legumes such as black or red beans, seeds like flax and chia, as well as cocoa, among other products. (5)

Now you know the importance of prebiotics and probiotics, and how they work in synergy to keep our microbiome healthy, which takes care of so many tasks for the benefit of our overall well-being.

Let's be healthier, together.

Your Santo Remedio Team

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