Prebiotics and probiotics have gained lots of attention over the last decade, yet people very often confuse the two. More recently, postbiotics have emerged as the newest member of the -biotics family as another group that may have health benefits. This will certainly contribute to the confusion! As RD nutrition coaches, it’s important to stay up to date on food and health trends. So what exactly are postbiotics?
Before I dive into this topic, allow me to introduce myself!
My name is Tony Stephan, and I’m a dietitian business coach. I help RDs make more IMPACT and more INCOME through nutrition coaching. Before becoming a dietitian business coach, I was a dietitian nutrition coach. I served thousands of nutrition coaching clients over a time span of 12 years. My successful nutrition coaching business is what led me to where I am today. Now, let’s review what we know about postbiotics and how to communicate this with your clients.
What Are Postbiotics?
Postbiotics have been known about for a very long time. There just hasn’t been an official definition or term for what they are. One recent article defines postbiotics as bioactive compounds resulting from fermentation which may have an array of health benefits. In other words, postbiotics are the compounds produced in the gut when the “good” bacteria (probiotics) consume fuel (prebiotic fiber). Short chain fatty acids (SCFA) and enzymes are two examples of the compounds produced by this fermentation process.
Postbiotics vs Prebiotics vs Probiotics
As briefly mentioned above, probiotics are the “good” bacteria that live within our gut. Prebiotics are a group of nutrients (predominantly fiber) that feed the probiotics. Postbiotics can be simply described as the outcomes of that process.
Proposed Health Benefits
Postbiotics are thought to have an array of potential health benefits including antioxidative, anti inflammatory, and antihypertensive function.
Certain postbiotics, such as butyrate, help control the body’s natural immune response. Butyrate has also been shown to help reduce inflammation and improve symptoms for people with non-severe IBD (inflammatory bowel disease). Other potential health benefits include improved blood sugar levels, weight loss support, and better tolerance vs probiotics.
On the retail side, postbiotics may have an advantage over probiotics because they are not a live strain of bacteria. They would likely have a longer shelf-life in comparison. Also, because postbiotics aren’t living organisms, they may provide health benefits to people unable to safely consume live and active strains.
Postbiotics are the bioactive compounds produced in the gut and are thought to provide a multitude of health benefits. One can naturally increase production of postbiotics by consuming more prebiotic- and probiotic-rich foods and drinks. When it comes to taking them in supplement form, though, it’s important to speak with your PCP beforehand.
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