By now most people know about probiotics, but one of the unsung heroes of the gut is the lesser-known postbiotics.
Postbiotics have direct and powerful impacts on our bodies.
Let’s take a look at what postbiotics are and how you can begin using their powerful benefits today.
Table of Contents
Exploring the Benefits of Postbiotics
Postbiotics is a term that has gained a lot of attention in recent years. These postbiotics are beneficial byproducts of the fermentation process of probiotics.
Impressively, postbiotics offer a promising avenue for improving health and well-being, as they possess unique properties that can positively influence various bodily functions.
From bolstering the immune system to supporting gastrointestinal health and mood, postbiotics have emerged as an area of intense scientific research and popularity.
Unveiling the Powerful Potential of Postbiotics for Human Health
To understand the benefits of postbiotics, it helps to know how they differ from prebiotics and probiotics and how they are also related.
After all, you can’t have the best gut health if you are missing out on the huge range of benefits that these gut heroes provide.
Probiotics: The friendly bacteria that make our tummies happy
Probiotics are any living bugs that have beneficial effects on gut health and overall health. They are typically found in fermented foods but are also available as supplements.
These happy bugs help make postbiotics in these foods and your digestive tract.
Prebiotics: The food for those friendly fellas
Anything that helps to feed the living bugs in the gut is called prebiotics.
You can think of them as fuel for probiotics.
Prebiotics are typically thought of as digestible fibers but they can also be nutrients as I describe in depth in my book Gut Fix.
Postbiotics: The byproducts that pack a punch
Postbiotics are a large category of byproducts of prebiotics and probiotics. They help with a vast range of health conditions and support vitality.
By getting adequate prebiotics and probiotics in your diet, it helps to make postbiotics.
Research now is showing the benefits of using postbiotics for their very own set of benefits.
This is because they can boost immunity and fight off bad germs. Additionally, they provide nutrients that support a healthy mood, and healthy skin. Postbiotics even may dampen symptoms of autoimmune diseases.
Types of Postbiotics
There are many types of postbiotics that are beneficial for the body.
The 6 main categories of postbiotics are enzymes, short-chain fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins, antimicrobials, and amino acids.
- Enzymes are postbiotics made by certain kinds of probiotics, such as Bacillus probiotics, make protein-digesting enzymes. These enzymes help the body to break down protein and may reduce pain and inflammation.
- Short-chain fatty acids including butyrate, are postbiotics that help fuel the gut lining and dampen inflammation and may help reduce gut disorders such as ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel syndrome. Fascinatingly, they may even reduce blood pressure and support heart health.
- Antioxidants are also made by postbiotics.
- Vitamins are postbiotics made by fermentation in the gut and fermented foods. These vitamins include vitamin K, vitamin B12, riboflavin, vitamin B6, and folate. Not surprisingly this is part of the many fascinating postbiotics benefits.
- Antimicrobials from postbiotics, like lactic acid, Nisin, and RG14, help to bolster immune function by fighting off harmful bacteria, viruses, and fungi. They are one of the main reasons that probiotics and postbiotics help prevent candida, UTIs, and bacterial vaginosis.
- Amino acids and organic acids are postbiotics that help make happy mood chemicals like serotonin, and dopamine, and also help support a healthy immune response. Examples are L-tyrosine, L-tryptophan, and acetic acid.
Next, let’s take a look at how these fascinating postbiotics promote health.
The Remarkable Advantages of Postbiotics in Promoting Gut Health
Postbiotics give your gut major advantages when you eat them.
These healthy compounds help you digest your food better because of their enzyme content.
By containing gut-fueling butyrate, they feed the gut lining and decrease inflammation. Short-chain fatty acids like butyrate help heal the gut because they increase tight junction proteins in the gut lining.
Both rich in antioxidants and antimicrobial compounds, postbiotics bolster gut-derived immune functions as well.
Also, by providing digestible amino acids and a healthy pH, postbiotics balance out the body and the brain.
Harnessing the Therapeutic Effects of Postbiotics on Immune Function
Anything that strengthens the gut lining, as postbiotics do, helps to support immune function. They do so by helping prevent unwanted bacteria from crossing into the bloodstream.
Not only that, postbiotics help the body’s immune function by performing antimicrobial functions. The appealing part of the antimicrobial functions of postbiotics is that they do not develop resistance to antibiotics.
Additionally, these postbiotics don’t disrupt the healthy bacteria in the gut. This makes them similar to prebiotics like Preforpro.
Fascinatingly, postbiotics reduce the risk of respiratory infections. A review of 53 clinical trials concluded that postbiotics helped reduce recurrent respiratory infections in children.
Unlocking the Skin-Boosting Properties of Postbiotic Cosmetics and Skincare Products
Anything that helps improve gut health also usually helps improve skin health. This approach to skincare by using postbiotics is emerging as beneficial indeed.
Postbiotics have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, immunomodulatory, antimicrobial, and anti-aging effects on the body.
For these reasons, they may help reduce inflammatory skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis, help with wound healing, and help with reducing acne too.
Not only that, they may prevent skin dryness.
The Role of Postbiotics in Maintaining a Balanced Microbial Ecosystem
Move over probiotics, postbiotics help improve the microbiome.
For example, the postbiotic butyrate helps to increase a beneficial bacteria in the gut called Akkermansia mucinophilia.
Another example of how postbiotics create a healthy microbiome is by helping to kill unwanted bacteria, as is the case for the postbiotic acetic acid found in apple cider vinegar.
Last but not least, postbiotics include vitamins and butyrate that help feed healthy bacteria in the gut.
This makes postbiotics the perfect feedback loop for a healthy gut.
Enhancing Mental Well-being: The Psychological Benefits of Postbiotics
There is a close connection between gut health and mental health, so it should be no surprise that postbiotics play a role in a healthy mood.
Our guts are home to a large percentage of happy mood chemicals including serotonin and dopamine. Postbiotics like butyrate may help boost the mood and reduce stress.
L-tyrosine is another postbiotic that enhances mood by increasing dopamine levels. It’s one of the best strategies for combatting low mood in some people.
Not only that, the use of L-tyrosine may improve the health of the microbiome too.
Addressing Allergies and Autoimmune Conditions with the Help of Postbiotic Supplements
Postbiotics, including butyrate, are an emerging tool in the battle against allergies and autoimmune conditions.
Using butyrate helps reduce the symptoms of autoimmune gut conditions like ulcerative colitis. Fascinatingly, butyrate is also good for heart health and may reduce Type 2 diabetes symptoms too.
Allergic reactions may also be lessened by postbiotics. Using the postbiotic derived from Lactobacillus rhamnosus reduces atopic dermatitis symptoms.
Early research also shows that postbiotics may reduce symptoms of Rheumatoid arthritis. They work by helping heal the gut and support a healthy microbiome.
While research is still considered preliminary for postbiotic effects with allergies and autoimmune diseases, it makes sense to include postbiotics in your diet for overall health.
Supporting Longevity: Implications of Postbiotics on Aging Processes
New research points to the fact that postbiotics likely slow aging processes in the body.
For example, one pre-clinical study found that the postbiotic called butyrate increased the expression of longevity genes called sir2.
Butyrate also helps to balance out age-related gut dysbiosis when delivered in the prebiotic form of inulin that promotes butyrate production.
Further supporting the roles of postbiotics in reducing aging processes, butyrate reduced stroke symptoms by promoting blood-brain barrier integrity, reducing inflammation, and blood vessel remodeling in mice.
Additionally, butyrate may help improve age-related memory by increasing histone deacetylase inhibitor activity. This action is important because it helps with cellular cleanup and may even reduce cancer risk.
Related post: Does Mitopure Urolithin A Work?
Where To Find Postbiotics
Luckily for us, postbiotics are easy to find in available foods.
Butter and cheese are natural sources of the postbiotic butyrate too.
Some research also points to the fact that getting prebiotic fibers helps to increase butyrate production.
Another good option is to try taking butyrate supplements. They are safe and reasonably inexpensive to try. A reputable brand of butyrate is called Bodybio Butyrate. Safe 15% if you use the code HEALTHYRD.
Other postbiotic supplements are emerging on the market today, including the clinically studied Hylak Forte.
In a world where gut health is gaining more attention than ever, postbiotics have emerged as major heroes of the microbial universe.
With their ability to regulate our immune system, improve digestion, and even enhance mental well-being, these little powerhouses are like the rockstars of the microbiome.
They may even give the memory a boost while also decreasing aging factors at the same time.
While you shouldn’t forget about prebiotics and probiotics, it’s time to give postbiotics the spotlight they deserve.
With postbiotics, you can help say goodbye to those pesky imbalances in your gut and say hello to a happier, healthier you.
It’s time to raise your glass (of kombucha) and toast to this new era of microbe-powered wellness!
Heidi Moretti, MS, RD is The Healthy RD. A registered dietitian for 23 years as well as a book author of the new book Gut Fix and The Whole Body Guide to Gut Health, Heidi has a passion for functional nutrition and natural medicine. She has researched supplements and natural medicine throughout her career. One of her biggest loves is helping people gain function and vitality by tackling the root causes of illness.