Go with your gut—a healthy gut! Your digestive system is a key indicator of overall health, with approximately 100 trillion bacteria, both good and bad, living inside it. Everyone’s DNA creates a unique network of microbiota, which are groups of microorganisms responsible for promoting bodily functions. However, promoting specific groups of bacteria, specifically substances found in postbiotics, can improve your health.
Here’s what you need to know about postbiotics and their rise in popularity.
Pre, pro, and post
You’ve likely heard of prebiotics and probiotics. Prebiotics are fibers that act as an impetus for the growth of probiotics, which are live, helpful bacteria that thrive in your gut. People who experience digestive discomfort or illnesses often opt to take probiotic
supplements. So, how do postbiotics differ?
Instead of placing more good bacteria into your gut, or promoting the growth of it, postbiotics are the substances leftover after the bacteria goes through its metabolic fermentation process. These substances include short-chain fatty acids and protein chains called peptides.
Picture it as a timeline for the lifespan of the microorganism:
- Pre: No good bacteria is growing yet, but there are optimal conditions for it to grow.
- Pro: Good bacteria is growing and thriving, ready to fight bad bacteria and help you digest.
- Post: The good bacteria is completing its lifecycle and decomposing into multiple different but beneficial substances.
The benefits of postbiotics
Current research suggests postbiotics reduce inflammation, aid in stronger immunity, and can potentially help prevent type two diabetes. However, the study of postbiotics is relatively new in the scientific community. The first scientific studies to surface about it emerged in the early 2000s, and there are still debates over the definition of postbiotics.
Why postbiotics are trending
In light of COVID-19, a good number of consumers are searching for ways to boost their immune health. It’s common knowledge that diet is linked to health, and this is especially true for the health of the immune system. In fact, there is a direct link between gut health and immunity because most of the immune system is in the intestines.
Foods and natural sources of postbiotics
While medicine is working through administering and developing vaccines, people are consuming foods and supplements that can fight potential infectious exposure. In addition to practicing social distancing and quarantining, there are other measures you can take to help protect yourself, especially if you’re immunocompromised.
Some companies are selling postbiotic supplements and advertising foods that have postbiotics. It is best to consult your doctor before consuming any dietary supplements, even if they don’t require a prescription.
Fermented foods are one of the best ways to tap into the power of postbiotics. Here are a few examples:
- Miso soup
- Soft cheeses
- Sourdough bread
- Tempeh—try this recipe!