What are Postbiotics?
You’ve heard of probiotics and prebiotics and now it’s time to answer the question, “what are postbiotics?” The -biotics family has grown and the newest known member, postbiotics, is something you definitely want to know more about.
In this article, we will cover topics like:
- What are postbiotics?
- How are postbiotics different from prebiotics and probiotics?
- In what ways are postbiotics beneficial to your health?
- What are good sources of postbiotics?
- Are postbiotic supplements right for you?
So if you’re ready, let’s jump in!
What are postbiotics?
Postbiotics are a byproduct of the bacterial fermentation process. Foods that contain insoluble fiber need to be fermented to get their nutrients extracted so our bodies can benefit from all parts of the plant.
Without our gut bacteria, we wouldn’t get as much out of our food.
Postbiotics are the nutritional benefits of the fermentation process. Some of these beneficial byproducts can include:
- Microbial cells
- Cell constituents
- Short-chain fatty acids (SCFA — read more about them here)
- Secreted and extracellular polysaccharides
Postbiotics are what make prebiotics and probiotics so helpful to our health, they are the end goal of consuming these substances.
What’s the relationship between prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics?
Probiotics have gotten the most claim to fame in the functional foods world, but they aren’t the only good guys saving your gut. It’s a team effort and as we continue researching gut health, more and more teammates are uncovered.
Probiotics are the bacterial strains we get when eating fermented foods like kombucha, yogurt, kimchi, and sauerkraut. When we eat probiotic-rich foods, we are actively adding bacterial strains into our gut microbiomes — a world full of bacteria living within our bodies.
Probiotic supplementation can be helpful for some people while it can actually be dangerous for others — which is why scientists and researchers are constantly looking into safer alternatives to get the same benefits.
The next discovery was a group of foods/supplements called prebiotics. Prebiotics are foods that contain insoluble fiber that feeds probiotics to allow the healthy strains to multiply on their own. Prebiotics are a better and safer option for people who:
- Are at a higher risk for infection
- Have weakened immune systems
- Are pregnant or breastfeeding
When you use prebiotic supplements or prebiotic-rich foods, you’re feeding the bacteria that is already in your gut and allowing them to do their job of multiplying naturally. Prebiotics help to improve your microbial diversity and balance in this way. This is why they have been looked to as a safer alternative to probiotics.
Postbiotics fit into this group with a simple equation:
Prebiotics + Probiotics = Postbiotics
Prebiotics feed the probiotics resulting in the creation of postbiotics.
No matter which supplement you take whether it’s prebiotics or probiotics the end result is always postbiotics. Postbiotics are the main reason we take prebiotics and probiotics so, we get the benefits that are actually derived from postbiotics.
Neither prebiotics nor postbiotics contain live microorganisms which are why they’re considered to be generally safer to use in all populations compared to probiotics.
How are postbiotics beneficial for health?
Since there are so many different postbiotics released during the metabolic processes within your gut, you’re able to get a lot of different benefits from them. If we even look at one category of them, you’ll see endless benefits.
On a general basis, you can expect:
- Immune system support and anti-inflammatory effects
- Anti-tumor/anti-cancer effects
- Infection prevention
- Antiatherosclerotic effects
- Improved autophagy (a damaged cellular deep clean to improve the functionality of your cells)
- Accelerated wound healing
- Increased microdiversity in the gut
- Enhanced intestinal barrier function
- Inhibition of pathogen growth
- Fighting obesity
But how exactly can they do all of these things?
You see, based on the foods that you eat, each one has different bioaccessible nutrients. During normal digestion, only some of the nutrients can be extracted and absorbed. However, when they reach the fermentation process more nutrients are extracted. Each nutrient has several jobs that it can do, but based on the state your body is in certain ones will take precedence.
Let’s take a carrot for example.
We know that we get biotin, potassium, SCFA, and vitamins A, K, and B6 from carrots. With carrots alone, we are getting several different postbiotics (SCFA and 3 different vitamins). Each one will carry out its own particular task whether it’s affecting our eyes, brain, skin, or somewhere else.
Once the postbiotics are extracted, they are recirculated into the body to do all of the things we credit our healthy foods for providing us. That’s how we get all of these amazing benefits and why we can call different fruits and vegetables “superfoods”.
How can you get more postbiotics?
If your gut is happy and healthy you can just look at adding more of the postbiotic-containing foods into your diet. This would include foods that have probiotics and/or insoluble fiber in them. Upping your plant-based food intake will certainly give you a lot of the benefits you’re looking for since you’re getting prebiotics into your diet.
Fermented milk and other fermented foods (if your doctor says it’s okay to eat them) will provide you with the probiotics you’ll need to get more postbiotics.
However, if you’re on a restricted diet, it might be harder to get the postbiotics you need into your diet. Luckily there are supplements out there that can provide you with exactly what you’re looking for. You can look for postbiotic, prebiotic, and/or probiotic supplements if they’re safe for you to take.
Are postbiotic supplements right for you?
Depending on what your medical diagnosis is, you’ll have some research to do but, there are definitely postbiotic supplements out there that can help you. Your best bet is to talk with your doctor about what supplement will work best for your individual needs.
Atrantil is a prebiotic and postbiotic supplement that was created to help bacterial overgrowth. If you suffer from bloating, gas, or abdominal cramping, it can help to avoid these symptoms and provide you with your daily dose of postbiotics. (Grab yours here!)
Whatever way you decide to get your postbiotics, know that you’re doing an amazing thing for your body. Give this article a “share” to anyone you know that is determined to improve their health! :)