Is postbiotics beneficial to health? We know what prebiotics and probiotics are and what they do in the human body. Recently, the discussion about how postbiotics may contribute to gut health and overall health is emerging.
Probiotics are living microorganisms that are crucial to good digestion and the health of the gut. They are found in certain fermented foods, such as yogurt, sauerkraut, tempeh, etc. When you include foods containing probiotics in your diet, the health of your digestive tract and overall wellness is enhanced through a healthy balance of beneficial bacteria and other microorganisms in your gut microbial system known as the microbiome. The microbiome is a collection of a hundred trillion of a wide array of microorganisms.
On the other hand, prebiotics act as food for the probiotics. These include foods with good amounts of fiber, such as beans, oats, whole grains, and certain vegetables. Your digestive tract cannot digest fiber, but they become food for the probiotics which continue to multiply and thrive within your gut.
Postbiotics refer to the waste substances known as bioactive compounds that are produced when probiotics digest prebiotics. Though postbiotics are considered waste or post-digestive substances of probiotic bacteria, they provide some health benefits to your body. Such post-digestive substances include nutrients such as vitamins B, vitamin K, and certain amino acids. Additional post-digestive substances produced are antimicrobial peptides, which help to slow down the growth of harmful bacteria as well as short-chain fatty acids which help healthy gut bacteria to flourish
Is postbiotics beneficial to health
Recent advances in health research have linked postbiotics with many health benefits. Some of these are discussed below:
Postbiotics helps in strengthening the immune system
Postbiotic such as butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid is known to stimulate the T cells which help to control the body’s immune response. Another form of postbiotic helps to increase the production of cytokines, an anti-inflammatory substance that inhibits inflammation and promotes immune responses. A study involving 300 older adults showed how daily doses of postbiotic for 20 weeks protected against the common cold.
The role of postbiotics in reducing digestive symptoms
People with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease may find help from the production of butyrate resulting from the activities of postbiotics. Butyrate helps in stimulating the immune cells which in turn helps in reducing inflammation. Several studies have shown the beneficial effect of butyrate in reducing the symptoms of ulcerative colitis.
Postbiotics in the prevention and treatment of diarrhea
Postbiotics have been shown to help in preventing and treatment of diarrhea. A study involving almost 300 adults reported a significant reduction in bowel frequency, bloating and overall quality of life after a four-week supplementation with postbiotic.
Postbiotics may help with reducing the severity of allergies.
Postbiotics have also been shown to aid in weight loss through the mechanism of hunger signal suppression
Postbiotics could help in lowering the risk of heart disease through the blood pressure lowering and gene cholesterol suppressing roles of butyrate.
Postbiotic may help in suppressing the growth and proliferation of certain cancer cells especially cancer of the stomach and colon.
How to increase postbiotics in your diet
You can increase postbiotics in your diets in two ways. First, by including a regular intake of fermented foods such as yoghurt, sauerkraut, tempeh, etc in your diet. To have the desired benefit of increased postbiotics, you should also have a regular intake of foods rich in fiber. Second, you can purchase postbiotics from food specialty stores in form of food supplements which usually come in different names such as calcium butyrate, dried yeast, or sodium butyrate. The second option if necessary, should be considered in consultation with your doctor. If you don’t have any underlying disease condition, the first option which is highly recommended should deliver the desired result. When you go with the dietary option, you will not only have the benefits of postbiotic but those of the probiotics and prebiotics as well.
Foods rich in prebiotics include but are not limited to the following:
- Chicory roots.
Foods rich in probiotics include but are not limited to the following:
- Yoghurt with live bacteria cells
It is highly beneficial to increase the amount of useful postbiotics in your gut. You can achieve this by increasing your intake of fermented foods, such as yoghurt, kefir, tempeh, and kimchi. Focusing on getting enough of the foods that promote a mix of healthy gut bacteria could improve your overall health.