What is Postbiotics? Experts tell you the relationship between it, Prebiotics, and Probiotics! “Postbiotics” has attracted widespread attention in recent years after Probiotics. Postbiotics are important nutrients for gut health and the growth of probiotics, playing a critical role in our intestines. The human gastrointestinal tract is where a symbiotic relationship exists between the microbial community and the host. Through this mutual relationship, the intestinal microbial community affects various physiological functions of the host, assisting in regulating the immune system . Therefore, if you want to have a strong immune system, start by understanding how to take care of your digestive health.
Three Elements of Gut Health: Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Synbiotics
Prebiotics, probiotics, synbiotics can regulate the composition and activity of the gut microbiota and directly affect the immune response .
According to the consensus statement of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Health Organization expert group, probiotics have health benefits when supplemented in adequate amounts .
The International Scientific Association of Probiotics and Prebiotics defines prebiotics as substances necessary for the activity of probiotics, which provide health benefits, can alter the composition of the microbial community, and thereby promote health.
Synbiotics are typically defined as a synergistic mixture of probiotics and prebiotics that have a positive impact on health .
However, there is increasing literature on postbiotics which suggests that postbiotics have important physiological functions in the host. Postbiotics refer to biologically active compounds produced by microorganisms during the fermentation process, including microbial cells, cell components, and metabolites. Postbiotics directly mediate immunity and improve overall health and alleviate various disease symptoms .
What are Postbiotics?
Postbiotics include substances produced in the gastrointestinal tract from the metabolism of prebiotics by probiotics. These can have a positive impact on health . Postbiotics comprise various components, including metabolites of probiotics, short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), cell wall fragments, functional proteins, extracellular polysaccharides (EPS), cell lysates, organic acids, antioxidants, peptidoglycan derivatives, etc. .
Postbiotics are very important in the functioning of the immune system, affecting the integrity of the immune barrier and intestinal health, and can affect the composition of the microbial community. According to research, postbiotics have functional effects such as immune regulation, anti-inflammation, antioxidant, antihypertensive, lipid-lowering, and anti-cancer properties . Apart from these functions, some studies now suggest that postbiotics can be used as adjunctive novel non-antibiotic therapies, such as in infectious disease management and antibiotic resistance prevention .
Relationship between Postbiotics and Prebiotics, Probiotics
Synbiotics are typically defined as a synergistic mixture of probiotics and prebiotics, with postbiotics not included in synbiotics . However, given the multifaceted health-assisting functions of postbiotics, many functional foods containing postbiotics are now available to increase health benefits by adding postbiotics .
How Postbiotics Maintain Gut Health
Postbiotics comprise various substances that have a protective effect on the intestinal barrier function similar to live probiotics . If the intestinal barrier function is compromised, it can lead to the passage of pathogens, allergens, and luminal toxins across the epithelial layer into intestinal cells, then to the gut-associated lymphoid tissue, and even to the bloodstream, spreading to other sterile organs, resulting in Leaky Gut Syndrome and systemic infection .
Research indicates that postbiotics can enhance the synthesis of intestinal mucosal proteins, improving the stability of the intestinal mucosal barrier structure, reducing intestinal barrier damage induced by tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) .
Postbiotics also help in the rebuilding of the extracellular matrix (ECM) in the gut, improving gut health and the integrity of intestinal epithelial cell structures . Scientific literature confirms that postbiotics can be used for the prevention and treatment of gastrointestinal diseases, especially with fewer side effects in infants and children .
Five Benefits of Maintaining a Healthy Postbiotic Microbiome
Intestinal barrier function is crucial for gastrointestinal health, as damage to it can lead to the occurrence of infectious diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome in children under 5 years of age. A review of studies involving infant formula and fermented foods containing postbiotics found a significant decrease in the occurrence of diarrhea and pharyngitis, as well as a significant reduction in the duration of diarrhea upon consuming postbiotics . Research has found that postbiotics can accelerate the maturation of the neonatal intestinal immune system, prevent colonization by Escherichia coli, protect intestinal barrier integrity, reduce intestinal barrier damage, and prevent colitis .
Immune Function Regulation
The intestinal barrier is the first line of defense against invading harmful microorganisms and antigens. Postbiotics regulate immunity by modulating the intestinal immune barrier, competing with certain pathogens for receptor binding, or changing the intestinal environment . Postbiotics are also believed to regulate Th1-controlled responses and enhance Th2-controlled responses. Animal studies have shown that supplementing with postbiotics can enhance Th1 lymphocyte responses in the intestine and significantly enhance intestinal barrier function to improve immunity . Animal studies have found that supplementing postbiotics to experimental animals for 60 days resulted in better immune status and gastrointestinal health .
Postbiotics are also thought to play a role in lipid metabolism and can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. For instance, short-chain fatty acids can inhibit the binding of cholesterol precursors and have effects similar to lipid-lowering drugs . Animal experiments found that after supplementing with postbiotics for 12 weeks, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood were significantly reduced, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol content was increased, helping to prevent and treat symptoms of lipid disorders . Human clinical studies found that after supplementing with postbiotics for 24 weeks, there was a significant reduction in weight gain, a decrease in intra-abdominal fat distribution, and a reduction in hepatic lipid content .
Blood Sugar Regulation
Postbiotics like short-chain fatty acids (butyrate, propionate, acetate) are also believed to be related to insulin resistance and the development or control of type 2 diabetes . Especially, short-chain fatty acids’ effects on insulin sensitivity and energy metabolism are now widely accepted. Short-chain fatty acids can regulate the levels of certain gut peptides (gut peptides) involved in glucose metabolism and intestinal barrier function . Moreover, these short-chain fatty acids can act on fat cells, reducing fat accumulation in the body, regulating insulin secretion, and regulating gut hormones like peptide YY (PYY) and glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1), thereby suppressing appetite .
Combining the intake of probiotics, prebiotics, postbiotics, and amino acids will help improve gut dysbiosis and degradation, promoting the functioning of the nervous
Hesperidin is also one of the nutrients that can be chosen to maintain gut health. When combined with probiotics, prebiotics, and even enzymes, it can further enhance gut health and help prevent diseases caused by intestinal aging.