You’ve probably heard of probiotics and prebiotics—two key components of the digestive system. Postbiotics, on the other hand, don’t get nearly the same level of attention when it comes to gut health support: Many people haven’t even heard of postbiotics, much less considered incorporating them into their routines.
In light of recent research suggesting that postbiotics are actually just as important as probiotics and prebiotics when it comes to supporting our gut bacteria, it turns out bridging that knowledge gap can be pretty powerful. Here’s what you need to know.* (1)
What are postbiotics?
Postbiotics can be defined as bioactive compounds produced by food-grade microorganisms during a fermentation process—specifically, when the “good bacteria” in your gut digests and breaks down portions of dietary fiber and prebiotics, which are typically found in complex plant carbohydrates. A natural byproduct of this process is the production of short chain fatty acids (more in a sec). And just like probiotics, postbiotics work behind-the-scenes to support gut health.* (1,2,3)
It can be tough to keep all the biotics straight, so here’s a quick refresher on definitions:
- Prebiotics: Prebiotics can be defined as nondigestible food components that support the growth of probiotics and the beneficial bacteria that exist in the gut so they can flourish.* (5)
- Probiotics: Probiotics are defined by the World Health Organization as live bacteria that may provide health benefits when consumed in adequate amounts. These microorganisms can be found in foods (sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, kombucha) and probiotic supplements.* (4,5)
- Postbiotics: As stated earlier, postbiotics are produced by the fermentation process carried out by beneficial bacteria.* (1,2,3)