Nutrition

Prebiotics, Probiotics, or Synbiotics - Which is right for you?

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Viome is a company that’s established itself as a true believer in the power of a healthy gut. With our roots in the gut microbiome field, we’re constantly keeping up-to-date on the science surrounding our microbial ecosystems, as well as how your oral and gut microbiome, cellular health, and mitochondrial health work together. And with each passing day, and every new study, we’re doubling down on our efforts to help build the healthiest population ever. The best way to tackle this issue is by adapting your diet, but for those who need extra support and a push in the right direction – precision pro- and prebiotics are a great way to start.


One Gut at a Time

 

By now, we’re all too familiar with the consequences or impacts nutrition has on our microbial ecosystems and how their imbalance may contribute to issues in our health. Our diet is the number one predictor of how balanced our microbiomes are. Consuming nutritious foods right for you can then be converted into clean energy, used to combat normal wear and tear in your cells, and can help to stabilize your body’s natural pH. Together, along with feeding your complete microbiome system in a way that promotes healthy microbial activities, food is your greatest asset for optimal health. But it can also take time to promote the right change in your body.

 

That’s why boosting the level of healthy microbial activity might require additional resources for quicker results. But how do we obtain faster change?

 

You may have guessed, but the natural response would be increasing – or repopulating – your microbiomes with commensal microbes that function in beneficial ways to promote health. Often thought of as feeding, weeding, and seeding your gut. And most people look immediately toward a very specific line of supplements made especially for that reason. Although many products are on the market today, they may not fit your specific needs, or even address bacterial changes outside of your gut microbiome. Now, precision pre- and probiotics are available to fit your own specific system, and address various areas of your body that may be out of balance.


Prebiotics, Probiotics, and – Synbiotics?

 

If you’ve been following along with Viome’s initiative, you may well be aware what prebiotics and probiotics are – though we don’t blame you if you occasionally get them mixed up. So let’s review.

 

If someone were to ask you your favorite foods, you might say something like raspberries, chocolate mousse, and a good French croissant. But if you were to pose that question to many beneficial microbes – their answer may be in the form of fiber-rich foods like avocado, Jerusalem artichoke, and chicory root. That’s because many gut microbes prefer these specific hard to digest carbohydrates (called prebiotic foods) often found in fruits and vegetables. Consequently, when we feed them these prebiotic rich meals, they convert this fiber into a compound called butyrate – and other short-chain fatty acids (also called a postbiotic) – that our own gut epithelial cells (an important component of the gut lining) just eat up. This is your classic example of a symbiotic relationship. We consume something we can’t digest that our gut microbes love, and they convert it to something that’s great for our body.


And prebiotics do more than just support our gut lining – the microbes that favor them tend to be commensal microbes that promote a more balanced ecosystem.

 

But in cases where it’s the number of microbes that may be hurting your health, probiotics might be the next way to boost your overall numbers. Probiotics are, in fact, a supplement rich in bacteria that can help promote healthy activities inside your gut. When levels of these microbes are low, competitive opportunistic bacteria might be outnumbering them in their hometown. In addition, the role probiotics play in supporting your body’s immune system is well documented. Regular consumption of beneficial probiotics may give them a fighting chance to reclaim the playing field.

 

With both these supplements working to do similar functions, you might consider taking both. Two angles to address the same problem – and your thinking is right in line with many scientists. 


Synbiotics – The Perfect Combination?

 

These days, we’re seeing a new transition in the field of supplements that integrates the best of both worlds by creating a comprehensive supplement combining a little of each. These supplements, called synbiotics, work in synergy to promote a healthier gut environment.

 

Okay, but what about Postbiotics?

Feels like they’re just coming up with new terms sometimes, but postbiotics are also an essential component of personalized formula. Because many of our microbiome uses prebiotics (their food) to help populate their colonies, as well as probiotics (the actual bacteria) to sway the balance of beneficial microorganisms, these populations then work in helpful ways by creating compounds our body can use - postbiotics. In some case, postbiotics are incredibly important to our own human health. In the previous example, fiber - a prebiotic - is converted into butyrate - a postbiotic. Though ideally our body would be producing the right amount of butyrate we need, there are times when our body might need a boost in that postbiotic to help our body heal while we repopulate the gut.


But butyrate is just the tip of the iceberg. There are a number of postbiotics available that might address gaps in a person’s body. 


You can imagine then, what a truly precision formula could look like for you: a truly personalized combination of prebiotics, probiotics, synbiotics, and even postbiotics to help enrich your body and fill the gaps in your microbiome to support the healthiest ecosystem possible.