Postbiotic is the exciting new buzzword bouncing around gut health conversations lately—and there’s a very good reason for all the excitement! It turns out that even if you already have a clear understanding of the role your friendly flora play in keeping you healthy, and how probiotics get their nourishment from prebiotics, you’ve still only got part of the whole microbial equation.
There’s so much more going on inside your amazing body than you might have imagined, and when you begin to see how postbiotics fit into this larger picture, it can take some of the mystery out of how beneficial microbes do their jobs and the way your marvelous microbiome functions.
It’s All About the ‘Biotics
So what are these mysterious postbiotics anyway? The official answer is that they’re probiotic bacterial fermentation byproducts.1 If that sounds complicated, it’s not; “byproduct” is really just a polite word for what happens after digestion. Here’s the lowdown on our favorite biotics!
Because probiotics are living organisms, they need to eat in order to stay alive—and prebiotics are the fibers (indigestible to humans) that provide the perfect nutrition for your probiotic community. Prebiotics are found in plant foods like apples, blueberries, onions, nuts, and Jerusalem artichokes, and when you eat these fibers, your probiotic friends get to feast on a great meal.
These are friendly bacteria in your body and you actually have more of these little guys (upwards of 100 trillion!) inside you than human cells. Most of these beneficial microbes live in your digestive tract.
After any organism eats, it tends to produce waste, and your friendly flora are no exception. Their digestive prebiotic fermentation process produces a number of waste byproducts, and these compounds are collectively known as postbiotics. The idea that your gut microbes are producing waste inside you may not sound very pleasant, but rest assured, these compounds are all perfectly safe—and they play an important role in maintaining your healthy microbiome and overall wellness.
Some of these beneficial compounds are short-chain fatty acids like acetate, propionate, and butyrate. Other key postbiotics include lipopolysaccharides, bacteriocins, vitamins, enzymes, and organic acids.
But, What Do Postbiotics Actually Do for Me?
Interestingly, scientific research is revealing that postbiotic compounds may actually be responsible for many of the beneficial health effects of probiotics. For example:
• Postbiotics produced by certain species of L. plantarum help encourage the growth of your microbial good guys and may even have an antimicrobial effect that helps keep undesirable types of bacteria at bay.3
• Postbiotics produced by L. casei may help maintain comfortable digestion.4
• A recent study found that the postbiotic muramyl dipeptide may play a role in maintaining good insulin response and healthy blood sugar levels already within a normal range.5
Some postbiotics, like acetic acid and lactic acid, can also help to lower the pH of the gut environment to discourage harmful bacteria.
Probiotics + Prebiotics = Plentiful Postbiotics!
Since your probiotic microbes naturally produce postbiotics after they ferment prebiotics, the key to making sure you’ve always got plenty of postbiotics on board is to take excellent care of your tiny microbial community. Living a gut healthy lifestyle that includes lots of fresh prebiotic plant foods, regular exercise, sufficient sleep, and relaxation goes a long way toward nourishing your microbial health so that your friendly flora can keep producing lots of health-supporting postbiotics.
For some extra gut TLC, supplement with a high quality, time-released probiotic like PRO-15 Advanced Strength to replenish your microbial neighborhood with targeted strains that produce short-chain fatty acids and other beneficial postbiotic compounds.
You can also eat delicious fermented and cultured foods that already contain live organisms—like yogurt, kimchee, miso, kefir, and sauerkraut—and don’t forget to stir some organic Prebiotic Powder into your smoothies and soft foods to give your tiny team a feast they’ll love.
Prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics are all vital parts of the microbial cycle that keeps you feeling your best. And when you give your beneficial flora all the love they crave, they’ll love you back by helping you enjoy a lifetime of vibrant wellness!
1. Tsilingiri, K., Barbosa, T., Penna, G., Caprioli, F., Sonzogni, A., Viale, G., & Rescigno, M. (2012). Probiotic and postbiotic activity in health and disease: comparison on a novel polarised ex-vivo organ culture model. Gut, 61(7), 1007-1015. doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2011-300971
2. LeBlanc J.G., Chain, F., Martín, R., Bermúdez-Humarán L.G. . . . Langella, P. (2017). Beneficial effects on host energy metabolism of short-chain fatty acids and vitamins produced by commensal and probiotic bacteria. Microbial Cell Factories, 8, 16(1), 79. doi: 10.1186/s12934-017-0691-z.
3. Kareem, K., Hooi Ling, F., Teck Chwen, L., May Foong, O., & Anjas Asmara, S. (2014). Inhibitory activity of postbiotic produced by strains of Lactobacillus plantarum using reconstituted media supplemented with inulin. Gut Pathogens, 6(1), 23. doi:10.1186/1757-4749-6-23
4. Compare, D., Martino, A., Angrisani, D., Sgamato, C., Iovine, B., Salvatore, U., … Nardone, G. (2017). P.03.15: Lactobacillus Casei DG and its Postbiotic Reduce the Inflammatory Mucosal Response: An Ex-Vivo Organ Culture Model of Post-Infectious Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Digestive and Liver Disease, 49, e151. doi:10.1016/s1590-8658(17)30464-4
5. Cavallari, J. F., Fullerton, M. D., Duggan, B. M., Foley, K. P., Denou, E., Smith, B. K., … Schertzer, J. D. (2017). Muramyl Dipeptide-Based Postbiotics Mitigate Obesity-Induced Insulin Resistance via IRF4. Cell Metabolism, 25(5), 1063-1074.e3. doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2017.03.021
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