When we talk about health and well-being, gut health always comes to mind for many good reasons. A healthy gut is an indicator of good health. We all have heard about eating probiotics to improve gut health, but here’s something you might not have heard of till now – postbiotics, which may be another key to achieving optimal gut health.
So why should we pay attention to the new and greatest “biotic” compound that has come up in the wellness world? Let’s see how postbiotics are beneficial to your health and how they are different from prebiotics and probiotics?
To understand how different biotics play a crucial role in your gut health, here’s a quick refresher on probiotics and prebiotics.
What Are Prebiotics?
Prebiotics are nutrients in food that we can’t digest ourselves, such as fiber. In fact, they provide food to the bacteria in your gut and help them to grow. You can find these fibers in onions, leafy greens, leeks, kale, garlic, and oats. According to a few studies, prebiotics may reduce exercise-induced asthma symptoms in runners.
To be known as a ‘prebiotic,’ the molecule has to carefully stimulate the activity or growth of microbes that prove beneficial for our health. Most prebiotic molecules are usually plants and fibers, so you can start by eating loads of plants.
What Are Probiotics?
According to the World Health Organization, “probiotics” are “living microbes that confer a health benefit on the host when administered in adequate amounts.” In simple words, they are living microbes that reach your gut and stay there to give some benefits. Fermented dairy foods like yogurt, aged cheeses, kefir products, kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, miso, and cultured non-dairy yogurts are all good sources of probiotics.
What Are Postbiotics?
When you eat food containing prebiotics, the microbes in our gut eat prebiotics and produce waste molecules named metabolites. These dead cells and parts of them, along with the waste molecules produced by your microbiome, are called ‘postbiotics.’
According to scientists, many postbiotic chemicals are produced in the microbiome that plays different roles in protecting your gut and overall health.
Eating probiotics increase the diversity and number of bacteria in our gut. This also reduces the growth of pathogenic microbes living in our gut, boosts the helpful chemicals that our gut bacteria produce, aid digestion, and prime our immune system.
How Are Postbiotics Different From Prebiotics And Probiotics?
The best way to understand this could be that prebiotics are the fuel for probiotics that work in our gut. All the hard work done by probiotics results in postbiotics. In simple words, postbiotics are the valuables created.
Another thing that distinguishes these three biotics is that probiotics are living whereas, both pre and postbiotics are dead material.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Postbiotics?
- Postbiotics Can Heal A Leaky Gut
Many people aren’t familiar with the term leaky gut, but they do know the symptoms. In medical terms, it is an “increased intestinal permeability.” It happens when the walls of the digestive tract become permeable, which triggers inflammation in the body. When you consume soluble fiber, it produces a short-chain fatty acid called Butyrate, which helps heal the colon.
- Postbiotics May Lower Inflammation
According to a study, postbiotics help lower inflammation in the body by restoring the gut’s good bacteria population. Postbiotics, when administrated, may protect against inflammation caused by some infections like salmonella.
- Postbiotics Helps To Lower Blood Sugar And Prevent Obesity
Lack of intestinal microbes is a contributor to obesity and insulin resistance. Muramyl dipeptide is a type of peptide created by probiotics that are successful in preventing diabetes. However, there needs to be more extensive research to support this theory.
- Postbiotics May Boost The Immune System
For those with conditions like immunodeficiency (immune system weakness or deficiency) or infants, probiotics may not be good or safe. Postbiotic compounds, instead, are much more tolerable and may prove helpful with problematic inflammation.
According to studies, there is a strong connection between postbiotics and immune health, particularly in infants.
The Bottom Line
If you’re watching out to improve your gut health, you can surely start with fermented foods and those with high fiber content. If you’re thinking of taking postbiotics as supplements, it would be best to consult with your healthcare provider.