Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Postbiotics
The microbes that live in your gut are vital to your overall health. Each individual has a distinct gut microbiome that varies significantly from person to person, including both good and bad bacteria. Having a balance of both microbes can help maintain a healthy gut.[i] Probiotics, prebiotics, and postbiotics can help maintain this balance. While you may have heard the terms pre, pro, and postbiotics, it is essential to understand what these terms mean and how they affect gut health.
What Are Probiotics?
A class of bacteria or yeast with health benefits for the host is said to be probiotics. They help maintain gut health and are essential in supporting immune and digestive health. This is why keeping the balance of bacteria more towards probiotics is necessary. Considering the health benefits of probiotics, more and more health enthusiasts are opting for probiotic supplements and are adding to the market growth.[ii] To understand the growing market and the manufacturing process of probiotics, read my recently published blog, “5 Essential Steps of the Probiotic Manufacturing Process.”
You can find probiotics in cultured and fermented foods, such as:
- Kimchi (a mixture of salted and fermented vegetables)
- Some types of raw cheese such as cheddar, feta and Gouda [iii]
- Miso (a paste made of fermented soybean in Japan)
Although most of these foods can be commonly found in our diet, supplements with clinically relevant doses of key probiotic strains are most beneficial for human consumption. [v]
What is a Prebiotic?
Prebiotics are a unique type of high-fiber foods that go through to the small intestine undigested. In the large colon, they are digested and act as food for the good bacteria in the gut. These are non-digestible food ingredients that are beneficial for the body as they aid in stimulating and growth of beneficial probiotic bacteria. A lack of these prebiotic fibers can result in a decrease in probiotic diversity in the gut.[vi] To understand the difference between probiotics and prebiotics, take a look at our blog “Probiotics and Prebiotics: What’s the Difference?”
Some of the most common sources of prebiotic foods are the delicious and nutritious items that are already a significant part of our daily diet, such as:
- Chicory root
- Dandelion greens
- Whole grains
While you can alternate the foods you eat to include a variety of textures and colors that provide you with all essential nutrients and keep your meals interesting, you can also opt for prebiotic supplements to enhance gut health.[vii]
What Are Postbiotics?
The bioactive compounds resulting from probiotics consuming prebiotics are known as postbiotics. This is still a relatively new research topic. Several known postbiotics include exopolysaccharides (EPS), short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), enzymes, aromatic amino acids, vitamins, cell-free supernatants, fragments of the cell wall, bacterial lysates, etc. Most of the research in this area focuses on SCFA and its benefits to the body. As the new kid on the block, the number of postbiotic supplements available in the market is relatively low compared to prebiotics and probiotics, making them the ideal choice for anyone looking to advance their supplement manufacturing portfolio. [viii] [ix]
Increasing the amount of prebiotic and probiotic food in your diet automatically elevates the levels of postbiotics produced in the body. However, several fermented products can also be considered postbiotic foods, this includes:
- Fermented soybean soup
- Breads that are slow fermented
- Soft cheese [x]
Foods such as legumes, cooked and cooled rice, oats, and potatoes contain resistant starch that gets further fermented in the colon to form SCFA’s. In contrast, underripe bananas, onions, and asparagus contain fructo-oligosaccharides that fuel butyrate production, which also aid in protecting the gut. [xi] [xii]
Health Benefits of Postbiotics
Research on postbiotic components has shown that they have a myriad of health benefits which may increase consumer demand for postbiotic supplements in the near future. The most prominent health benefits of postbiotics are:
- They aid in supporting healthy blood sugar levels already within normal ranges due to the production of butyrate, which may also help reduce the possibility of excessive weight gain.
- Postbiotics like SCFA’s and butyrate help stimulate the production of regulatory T-cells in the intestines, thus promoting a healthy the immune system. The cell wall fragments and supernatant from healthy bacteria also help increase the production of anti-inflammatory chemical messengers, promoting immune health.
- Postbiotics are also known to be effective in supporting intestinal tract time and promoting bowel health. [xiii]
While most postbiotics are produced by probiotics in the body, supplement brand owners can include postbiotic supplements in the form of powders or capsules that will help the consumer directly add these essential bioactive components into their diet. These supplements can help balance the good bacteria in the body and maintain a good gut microbiome which ultimately results in good digestive health. [xiv] [xv]
How Can NutraScience Labs Help?
NutraScience Labs’ staff possesses over 120 years of supplement manufacturing experience and has helped more than 2,300 brands create customized capsules, powders, and chewable nutritional supplements. All our contract manufacturing services occur in GMP Certified facilities in the United States. These facilities contain state-of-the-art machinery designed to maximize production time – allowing you to bring your product to the market faster!
In addition to providing best-in-class dietary supplement manufacturing, we also offer award-winning label design & packaging and convenient order fulfillment solutions designed to save you time, money, and stress so you can focus on growing your brand.