What? Postbiotics? Yes, you heard right. These newbies are not entirely new. The scientific community has known them for several years. They are interesting and promising and this is why I have decided to unveil them in this text.
This article first defines the intestinal microbiota and what probiotics and prebiotics are. Then it explains what postbiotics are, why they are important and tips will be given to have a healthy microbiota.
To begin with, our microbiota, which is the collection of microorganisms living in our gut, can be positively influenced by prebiotics, probiotics and postbiotics. On the one hand, probiotics are found in many fermented foods and supplements. On the other hand, prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates. They include fructooligosaccharides (FOS) or fructans, galactooligosaccharides (GOS) and others. In addition, the postbiotics which are rather unknown will be revealed below.
What Are Probiotics?
Microorganisms naturally found in our gut ferment the prebiotics that we ingest. These microorganisms release substances that are produced during their metabolic activity. They are functional bioactive compounds that have a beneficial effect on our body and are called postbiotics. They include short-chain fatty acids, bioactive proteins and peptides, vitamins and polysaccharides (Sanlier, N. 2019, Nataraj, B.H. 2020. and Wegh, C. A. M., 2019). These molecules have immunomodulatory properties. They can strengthen the immune system and improve the function of the intestinal barrier. (Hermann, M. 2020). Several studies are underway on how to create postbiotic supplements. Compared to supplementing probiotics, postbiotics are not alive, so are easier to store, would be easier to produce and more (Nataraj, B.H. 2020).
To increase our chances of having a healthy microbiota, we can increase our intake of prebiotics and probiotics. This is another good reason to eat a variety of foods including prebiotics and probiotics.
Tips for increasing your intake of prebiotics and probiotics
1- Know the sources of fermented products (probiotics) which have been proven by science to have positive effects on health.
Capsules or drops in pharmacies.
For gut health, kombucha, miso, kimchi, and tempeh have not been tested in randomized controlled trials. To date, these foods have no scientifically proven benefits (Dimidi, E. et al., 2019).
2- Know the sources of prebiotics
They are in some vegetables and fruits such as artichokes, asparagus, bananas, garlic, leeks, onions and tomatoes. They are also found in barley, rye and whole grains, kefir, yogurt, buttermilk, and some roots. Sometimes they are added to products processed as inulin (Dietitians of Canada, 2018).
2-Try a new product every time you go grocery shopping to find your favorite ones.
3-Cook from time to time with fermented foods.
For example, you can make a salad dressing with yogurt or add kefir to a smoothie.
4- Ferment your own foods.
It is possible to make homemade yogurt or kefir.
Without realizing it, by consuming prebiotics and probiotics, we help generate postbiotics that are beneficial to our health. On the other hand, it is not just eating prebiotics and probiotics which help to have a healthy microbiota. A balanced Mediterranean style diet and physical activity also positively influence our microbiota.
Karine Drouin RD
Brunet. (n.d.). Les bienfaits des probiotiques. Retrouvé le 3 Février 2021 au https://www.brunet.ca/sante/conseils-sante/les-bienfaits-des-probiotiques/
Dietitians of Canada. (n.d.). Les prébiotiques. Retrouvé le 3 Janvier 2021 au https://www.unlockfood.ca/fr/articles/aliments-probiotiques/prebiotiques/les-prebiotiques.aspx
Dimidi, E., Cox, S.R., Rossi, M., Whelan, K. (Août, 2019). Fermented Foods: Definitions and Characteristics, Impact on the Gut Microbiota and Effects on Gastrointestinal Health and Disease. Nutrients. 11(8), 1806. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu11081806
Fermented foods. (2020). International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics website. Retrouvé le 30 Janvier 2021 au https://isappscience.org/for-scientists/resources/fermented-foods/
Hermann, M. (Juin, 2020). Discover the World of Postbiotics. Today’s Dietitian. 22, (6), P. 20. Retrouvé le 30 Janvier 2021 au https://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/JJ20p20.shtml
Nataraj BH, Ali SA, Behare PV, Yadav H. (Août, 2020). Postbiotics-parabiotics: the new horizons in microbial biotherapy and functional foods. Microb Cell Fact. 20;19(1):168. https:// 10.1186/s12934-020-01426-w.
Sanlier, N., Gokcen, BB., Sezgin, AC. (2019). Health Benefits of fermented foods. Critical Reviews in Food and Nutrition. 2019;59(3):506-527.
Wegh CAM, Geerlings SY, Knol J, Roeselers G, Belzer C. Postbiotics and their potential applications in early life nutrition and beyond. Int J Mol Sci. 2019;20(19):E4673. https://10.3390/ijms20194673