Prebiotics, synbiotics, postbiotics, probiotics—oh my! If you don’t know, these guys are all linked to the beneficial bacteria in your gut. However, given the array of "biotics" now available, probably not enough information exists about what they are, how they differ, and how they can improve your health. If you've heard the term "postbiotics" (or even if you haven't) and want to know what it means, this article is for you.
Let’s begin by defining postbiotics and then look at how they differ from the other “biotics” out there.
Postbiotics VS Probiotics VS Prebiotics
Most understand that probiotics are beneficial to gut bacteria that help keep our guts in check. Likewise, many of us understand that prebiotics feed these beneficial bacteria. Synbiotics, if you don’t know, are a combination of the two. So, what then could possibly be left to define?
Probiotics are living organisms, whereas postbiotics are metabolites. Technically speaking, they are a by-product or the leftovers of probiotics and prebiotics 1.
Examples of these metabolites include 2:
- Bacterial lysates (medicines made from broken-down bacteria).
- Cell-free supernatants (compounds produced by bacteria and yeast).
- Cell wall fragments.
- Exopolysaccharides (substances that microorganisms secrete).
- Lipopolysaccharides (large molecules found on the outer layer of certain bacteria).
- Other metabolites like vitamins and amino acids.
- Short-chain fatty acids
Even though researchers have known about postbiotics since the ’80s, they weren’t technically identified until 2021 by the International Association of Probiotics and Prebiotics (IAPP.) However, that doesn’t mean they weren’t already being developed.
EpiCor™, for instance, is a premium postbiotic created long before the term "postbiotic" even entered the realm of conversation. This is the main ingredient in the Certified Naturals Postbiotic Supplement, which has been proved through its distinctive metabolite fingerprint to enhance the gut microbiome and support critical immunological processes in more than a dozen studies. 3. And because this postbiotic gut nutrient is developed outside of the human body, it can be especially helpful for people with pre-existing medical disorders like autoimmunity, whose bodies don't properly break down nutrients. Postbiotics developed in this way are stable all by themselves, unlike probiotics.
Strengthening the immune system with postbiotics causes other positive effects like:
- Improved immunological response and increased antioxidants within one hour of consumption 4
- Shortens cold and flu symptoms like sore throat, cough, fever, and mucus build-up 5,6
- Can help reduce allergy symptoms like nasal congestion7
- Helps with constipation and bloating 8
- Promotes healthy BM 9
- Works similarly to probiotics but at a much lower dose and without live cultures 10
- Helps to rebuild the intestinal lining 11
The inherent potential of your microbiome can be improved safely and naturally with postbiotics. EpiCor™ Certified Naturals Postbiotic Immune Formula is clinically proven to enhance immunity and reduce the signs and symptoms of the common cold, flu, and even allergies. And because postbiotics are so gentle, they are a great option—and for some people, even better than the more popular probiotics!
Postbiotics are growing in popularity and for a good reason. But, as always, see your doctor to determine if they're right for you.
Go In-depth: Postbiotics Podcast
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Certified Yoga Teacher
In this episode, I’m joined by Dr. Justin Green, the Director of Scientific Affairs at Cargill Health Technologies. Justin and I talk about the difference between pre, pro and postbiotics, how each of them are helpful for you, and how to find what works for you.