At this point, gut health has been the topic of conversation in the wellness world for a while, and with good reason. We all know about drinking kombucha, the gut-brain connection and the importance of probiotics. However, there is a topic that’s creating an even bigger buzz than probiotics in the land of gut health at the moment: postbiotics.
Related to prebiotics and probiotics, postbiotics are essentially the endgame goal of all your gut health efforts. You might not realise it, but when you take prebiotics or probiotics, the hope is that, from that, postbiotics will be produced. The entire point is postbiotics,” says gastroenterologist Will Bulsiewicz, MD, author of the book, Fiber Fueled.
So why should we care about the latest and greatest “biotic” compound to come up in the wellness world?
The following article was adjusted from the original written by Emily Larence for the websit wellandgood.com. Follow wellandgood.com by clicking the following link: https://www.wellandgood.com/food-nutrition/
What are Postbiotics and how are they different from Pre- and Probiotics?
Probiotics, Dr. Bulsiewicz says, are live microoraganisms (typically bacteria or yeast) that benefit the body by boosting the immune system, reducing inflammation, helping with digestion, and improving mood. They live in your gut, but there are also foods that contain probiotics, such as yogurt, pickled veggies, and miso. (You can obviously also find them in supplement form.)
Postbiotics are byproducts of the fermentation process carried out by probiotics in the intestine. In other words, as probiotics feed on prebiotics, postbiotics are produced. They are basically the “waste” of probiotics. Additionally, postbiotics can be produced and extracted in laboratories to be used for therapeutic purposes, and delivered through pills and direct application (10).
Waste products don’t sound like they would be of much use to us. Interestingly however, they are responsible for multiple important health-boosting functions in your gut. Some examples of postbiotics include organic acids, bacteriocins, carbonic substances and enzymes. They result naturally from the existence and survival of microorganisms living in our gut, though they can also be added directly through therapeutic processes (10).
Gut health in a nutshell: Postbiotics = Prebiotics + Probiotics
“The thing to know about probiotics is that they don’t stick around. They don’t colonize the gut permanently,” Dr. Bulsiewicz says. This is where postbiotics come in. This is a relatively new term (hence why you may not have heard it before!) used to describe “functional bioactive compounds, generated in a matrix during fermentation, which may be used to promote health.” The translation of this International Journal of Molecular Sciences (IJMS) article definition: Postbiotics are essentially the byproducts of probiotics. They eat food, it ferments, and voilà, you have postbiotics.
1. Postbiotics can help heal leaky gut
Even if you aren’t familiar with the term leaky gut, you might be familiar with its symptoms. Known in the medical world as “increased intestinal permeability,” leaky gut is when the walls of the digestive tract become permeable, which can trigger inflammation in the body. Dr. Bulsiewicz says one postbiotic, butyrate, can help reverse the effects. “Butyrate is a short-chain fatty acid, which is produced when you consume soluble fiber. That soluble fiber gets metabolized and consumed by the healthy bacteria inside of you to produce butyrate. Then, butyrate helps heal your colon,” he says.
2. Postbiotics may help lower inflammation
According to one study published in the journal Clinics in Perinatology, pre- pro- and postbiotics are all connected to lowering inflammation throughout the body by helping to restore the good bacteria population in the gut. (It should be noted that this specific study focused on these compounds for helping prevent or treat an intestinal disease common in prenatal babies, so take these findings with a grain of salt.)
3. They may help boost the immune system
One study found a connection between postbiotics and a stronger immune system, particularly in infants. This is not too surprising as, after all, a direct link between gut health and immunity has long been established.
4. Postbiotics may help prevent type 2 diabetes
Postbiotics (specifically Muramyl dipeptide, a type of peptide created by probiotics) have also been found to be successful in preventing diabetes, at least in mice. Researchers explain that having gut bacteria chronically out of balance can contribute to someone becoming insulin resistance, and pre-diabetic. Postbiotics, meanwhile, appear to help insulin work more effectively, bringing balance and stopping the development of diabetes.
How can I ensure I’m producing or getting enough postbiotics?
Again, maximizing your postbiotics requires feeding your body’s probiotics with a variety of prebiotics. How to do that, you ask? By eating more fiber, aka the best source of prebiotics there is.
You can get prebiotics from both soluble (the kind that absorbs water) and insoluble (the kind that pushes things through your system) fiber. But Dr. Bulsiewicz says you don’t need to stress about hitting a specific quota of each kind into your daily diet. “For simplicity’s sake, fiber is often broken into these two main groups, but the truth is, we don’t have a good estimate on how many [different] types of fiber sources there are,” he says. “The key, from my perspective, is to eat a diverse mix of plants that will bring a unique mix of fiber, both soluble and insoluble,” he says.
In other words: Eat lots of plants and the prebiotic + probiotic = postbiotic formula will start taking place in your body. And when that happens, you’re gearing yourself up to reap loads of potential health benefits. Plus, eating lots of fiber itself is good for more than just postbiotic production—you’re gearing yourself up for a healthier gut, better digestion (and less constipation), potentially lower cholesterol, and other benefits.
The following foods can also help increase the concentration of postbiotics in your gut:
- Miso soup
- Sourdough bread
You will likely be hearing more and more about postbiotics over the next several months and years and although there is still a lot to learn postbiotics are likely to be the next up-and-coming health-boosting component in your diet and digestive process. But the major takeaway is this: Taking care of your gut is the gift that keeps on giving and is even more beneficial than we may know. As if we needed another reason to eat more plants.
At Oshun Health we use fermentation to make a number of our products, e.g. our Phyto Fuel. These products, therefore, contain postbiotics. Microbes are also involved when Fulvic Acid is formed. Our Fulvic B-Complex, except for the organic pomegranate juice used as its base, is made from the metabolytes of B-Vitamin producing microbes and is, therefore, almost nothing but postbiotics. Furthermore, all our whole food supplements contain the soluble fiber (prebiotics) of the food from which it’s extracted. It’s obvious to see how seriously we take gut health in that our whole range, contributes to it.