What are Postbiotics?

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It’s likely that you have heard about probiotics—and maybe even prebiotics—and why they are important when it comes to your gut-microbiome health (“gut health”).

Probiotics—like Akkermansia muciniphila—are “beneficial bacteria” that live within your gut microbiome. Probiotics are living microorganisms that—when present in large enough amounts in your gut—can provide a health benefit to you.  

Prebiotics are food for your gut microbiome. This nourishes and promotes the growth of the beneficial microbes in your gut, which in turn provide health benefits to you. 

Most prebiotics are dietary fibers, but not all dietary fibers have a prebiotic effect.

What are Postbiotics?

This may all sound familiar. But, have you ever heard of “postbiotics?” 

Postbiotics are an up-and-coming, health-boosting component in your diet and digestive process. 

    Postbiotics might be less known than probiotics and prebiotics, but postbiotics have an equally important role in maintaining and improving our health.

    Postbiotics are byproducts of the fermentation process carried out when the probiotics in your intestines eat the prebiotics you feed them.

    In other words—postbiotics are the “waste product” left behind after your body’s probiotics digest the prebiotics. Sure, it sounds kind of gross, but the importance of this microscopic food cycle is becoming more understood—and it has a major impact on your gut health.

    In addition to learning about what postbiotics are, this article answers the following questions: 

    • How postbiotics improve your gut health
    • How do you increase postbiotics in your body?
    • What are some foods that increase postbiotics?
    • What are some good gut-health resources?
    How do postbiotics improve your gut health?

    The use of prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics to alter the gut microbiome has attracted recent interest.

    Researchers at the Medical University of Warsaw in Poland liken the microbiome to a roof that is dependent on a solid supporting foundation. The metaphorical "foundation" of the microbiome is a suitable diet and physical activity. 

    “The connectors [pillars] between “roof” and “foundation” that cement the construction are pre-, pro-, and postbiotics,” write the researchers.

    Research to date indicates that postbiotics can have clinically relevant effects, and evidence can be found for the use of postbiotics in healthy individuals to improve overall health.

    When discussing gut-microbiome health with her clients, Tara Karr, MS, RD, LDN, CDCES, says it has been common practice to consider probiotics. What is becoming more evident to Karr, however, is that a healthy gut microbiome not only consists of the live bacteria from probiotics, but also: 

    • The fibrous prebiotics that act as a fuel for those probiotic strains, and 
    • The metabolites that those probiotics produce (postbiotics) 

     

     Postbiotics and Pendulum Glucose Control

    “By working together, pro, pre-, and postbiotics all play a role in your health,” says Karr. “When considering the foundation for a healthy gut, we are starting to see the conversation shift to discussing all three biotics.”

    Postbiotics are not considered synbiotics, which—like Pendulum Glucose Control—are a combination of pre- and probiotics that have beneficial impacts on the gut microbiome. 

    Researchers at the Department of Chemical Engineering at Texas A&M University, however, believe that postbiotics strengthen the intestinal microbiome, and suggest that the term “synbiotics” be reviewed and postbiotics be incorporated in its definition.  

    “Although postbiotics do not contain live microorganisms, they show a beneficial health effect through similar mechanisms that are characteristic of probiotics while minimizing the risks associated with their intake,” write the researchers.

    There are various types of postbiotics, including:

    • Enzymes
    • Cell-wall fragments
    • Bacterial lysates (a mixture made from bacterial components)
    • Cell-free supernatants (a mixture of compounds produced by bacteria and yeast)
    How do you increase postbiotics in your body?

    Another postbiotic substance is butyrate, which is a  short-chain fatty acid that helps healthy bacteria flourish.​​ 

    Butyrate, however, is a short-chain fatty acid that we cannot make on our own. Instead, we get butyrate from our food and from a series of reactions that take place in the gut microbiome that convert dietary fibers into a bounty of butyrate. 

    One way to increase butyrate-producing bacteria is by taking GI Repair, a new medical probiotic from Pendulum.

    Another way to increase butyrate-producing bacteria is by taking Pendulum Glucose Control, which has 3 butyrate-producing probiotic strains of bacteria that include:

    What are some foods that increase postbiotics?

    Because postbiotics are the end-product of probiotics that “digest” prebiotics, the best way to get more of them into your body is by eating more prebiotic foods.

    Toni Golen, MD, and Hope Ricciotti, MD, editors in chief, of Harvard Women's Health Watch say you can also increase the amount of useful postbiotics in your system by increasing your intake of fermented foods, such as:

    • Kefir
    • Tempeh, and 
    • Kimchi

     

    Prebiotics are generally found in high-fiber foods such as whole grains and vegetables, and include: 

    • Chicory root
    • Garlic
    • Onions
    • Leeks
    • Asparagus
    • Barley
    • Oats
    • Flaxseed
    • Seaweed

     

    “Fiber [prebiotics] actually help the concentration [density] of bacteria in the gut,” says Kristin Neusel, MS, RDN, LD, CDCES. “Probiotic foods help with the diversity of bacteria in the gut. It's imperative to have both pro- and prebiotics to ensure adequate postbiotic production.” 

    Probiotic foods that help with the diversity of bacteria in the gut include: 

    • Yogurt
    • Sauerkraut
    • Miso soup
    • Soft Cheeses
    • Sourdough bread
    • Buttermilk
    • Pickles

     

    Although the use of postbiotics is an attractive strategy for altering the microbiome, researchers say further study into the efficacy and safety of postbiotics is warranted.

    What are some good gut-health resources? 

    If you are interested in improving your gut health, there is a gut-microbiome diet you can follow.

    Also, Pendulum's registered dietitians have created several unique meal plans that include 42 meals that not only help nourish your gut microbiome, but can also help you manage your blood sugars. You can check out and purchase these meal plans by clicking here

    To help nourish your gut microbiome, Pendulum Therapeutics’ dietitians also provide personalized, 1-hour Nutrition Coaching Calls. During the calls, dietitians personalize nutrition education based on your needs, and they also provide resources and handouts just for you.

    To learn more about these programs and to schedule an appointment, go to Pendulum’s nutrition page

    To learn more about gut-microbiome health, you can always check the Pendulum Life Digest! Go to the search bar and type “gut health,” or just click here. 
     
    In addition, click here to sign up for Microbiome Nutrition Bootcamp. With the help of a gut-microbiome RD, you can stay on track in the New Year and learn how to nourish your gut health through nutrition and Pendulum Glucose Control—the only medical probiotic used for the management of Type 2 diabetes. Classes are 100% virtual.

    When looking for gut-health resources, always look for credentialed, qualified sites that have registered dietitians or qualified credentialed healthcare providers providing sound, scientific advice.

    For more information about Pendulum and its products, go to Pendulumlife.com. To contact Pendulum Therapeutics go to hello@pendulumlife.com or call (844) 912-2256.

    And don't forget to get encouragement, the latest gut-health tips, and updates by following Pendulum on LinkedInFacebook, and Instagram.

     

    REFERENCES

    1. https://www.nature.com/articles/nrgastro.2014.66
    2. https://dietaryfiber.org/chicory-root-fiber-is-a-prebiotic-but-what-exactly-is-a-prebiotic/
    3. https://www.chiropractor-schaumburg.com/what-are-postbiotics-5-health-benefits/
    4. https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/12/8/2189
    5. https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/12/8/2189
    6. https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/20/19/4673
    7. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0958166913006800?via%3Dihub
    8.  https://www.health.harvard.edu/nutrition/what-are-postbiotics
    9.  https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/postbiotics#what-they-are
    10.  https://www.health.harvard.edu/nutrition/what-are-postbiotics
    11. https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/12/8/2189

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