What is a Postbiotic and Why do I need it?
Prebiotics, Probiotics, Synbiotics - now Postbiotics? Sometimes, you have to take a moment to just laugh and appreciate the fact that science is ever evolving, especially when it comes to the gut microbiome!
The truth is, scientists have known and talked about ‘postbiotics’ for a long time but under other names. Typically referred to as ‘byproducts’ or ‘metabolites,’ postbiotics are a category of beneficial compounds the gut microbes produce in our digestive system with healing or healthy attributes.
In fact, there are a number of postbiotic compounds you probably already know about. We’ve written whole articles on them before, like this one on butyrate. Scientists have been studying a number of postbiotics that help combat inflammation, keep our intestinal cells happy, and even fight back against pathogenic bacteria inside our gut.
If you’re wondering why switch to the term ‘postbiotics’ now, that’s because recently scientists have begun producing a ton of research highlighting their own individual benefits - and many of these compounds have been introduced into our personalized Precision Supplements™ formulas!
What’s more, some of these postbiotics can help individuals with specific goals, like weight loss and lowering inflammation.
Once a Nutrient; Now a Different Type of Nutrient
There are a surprising number of foods we eat that our body has a hard time digesting. Though that may seem counterintuitive, it actually serves an essential purpose in supporting our digestive system in various ways. One of the things we talk about most is the important role of fiber - both in the ways it helps rid our body of toxins (by bulking up fecal matter) and feeding gut microbes that in turn convert it into easy to digest nutrients.
Though fiber itself is not a postbiotic (trivia check - it’s actually a prebiotic), it takes a journey through our digestive system starting from the moment it hits our mouth. Our teeth immediately begin tearing fibrous foods like whole grains, vegetables, and fruits apart. As our mouth begins to secrete saliva, our body produces enzymes that help to break down the simpler carbohydrates and sugars to help our stomach make quick work of it once we swallow.
But between the highly acidic environment of our stomach, and the ‘machinations’ of our mouth, fiber is a tough bird to break down. Instead, it passes through into our intestine where it helps bulk up our feces, allowing various toxic compounds to become trapped and easily passed.
Many other substances also get trapped to our benefit, like bile and cholesterol, helping cleanse our body and forcing it to make them anew. This has beneficial effects and is what gives fiber its ‘heart healthy’ attributes.
But then again, some of that fiber travels to the lower digestive tract and makes great food for many of our microbial friends. It may have started out as our food, but ultimately it makes its way down to be digested by the gut microbiome.
Fiber to Butyrate, and So Much More
By now you’re probably familiar with the name ‘butyrate’ because as gut enthusiasts, we love to rave about the beneficial compounds the gut microbiome produces to keep our intestinal lining healthy. This Short Chain Fatty Acid (SCFA) is a byproduct of specific bacteria from the fermentation and digestion process of fiber.
Now you can give butyrate a new title as a Postbiotic - but it's certainly not the only one out there. Scientists have recorded dozens of postbiotics known to be used to help support our body, and their healing or helpful properties vary significantly.
Top 4 Perks to Postbiotics
1. Help with Weight Loss
Some of the postbiotics scientists have studied actually have been linked to lowering BMI and reducing weight. By activating insulin pathways, these postbiotics help overcome insulin resistance known as a large contributor to obesity. Many of these also might be found right in your Viome Precision Supplements formula.
2. Calm Digestive Discomfort
Just like probiotics, some postbiotics can help reduce instances of diarrhea. Scientists have found that various byproducts from the gut microbiome can help overcome symptoms associated from bouts of painful gut discomfort.
3. Reduce Inflammation
Some of us suffer from inflammatory conditions in our gut - whether that’s Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Irritable Bowel Disease, Crohn’s, or others. That can make digesting some foods more difficult than others, including nutritious fiber-rich foods. But supplementing directly with postbiotics can help reduce inflammation that stems from these foods and help heal the intestinal lining to improve digestion down the road.
4. Fight Pathogens
Repopulating the gut with commensal, beneficial microbes is the number one goal we have with changing our diet, adding nutritious supplements, and taking up a pre- and probiotic routine. Together, this supports healthier activities and the production of those wonderful postbiotics that support our gut ecosystem. Consequently, it makes it harder for pathogenic and harmful microbes to lay claim to your gut. So if your production of postbiotics is higher, you can expect a level of defense against microbes with ulterior motives. Some studies have even shown that supplementing with specific postbiotics and probiotics have even defended against infections!
The therapeutic value of postbiotics continues to grow, which has added to our excitement to offer many different ones on our Precision Supplement formulas. Depending on your individual needs, you may see the term ‘postbiotic’ to describe an ingredient. So be on the lookout, and no - you didn’t misread it. Soon enough, Postbiotic will become as common in your vocabulary as its predecessors pre- and probiotics.
The information on the Viome website is provided for informational purposes only and with the understanding that Viome is not engaged in rendering medical advice or recommendations. Viome provides this educational information to share the exciting developments being reported in the scientific literature about the human microbiome and your health. Viome products are not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.