The term probiotics may sound familiar to you and you may have heard of prebiotics, but now scientists are also increasingly interested in so-called postbiotics. These products derived from probiotics could have a positive impact on the gut function and the immune system. Scientists suspect that they can not only improve overall health, but also reduce the symptoms of certain diseases.

Probiotics, live bacteria and yeasts that can have a positive effect on the intestinal flora and health in general, are now quite well studied. These microorganisms are usually found in fermented drinks, yoghurts and certain dietary supplements. Prebiotics are substances that promote the growth of probiotics in the body. You get them by eating vegetables, fruits, bread, cereals and legumes.

Strengthen the immune system

In recent years there has also been increasing attention to postbiotics, substances produced or secreted by probiotics during a fermentation process. Specifically, these include enzymes, peptides, polysaccharides, cell surface proteins and short-chain fatty acids such as butyrate and acetate.

A recent research suggests that these postbiotics can not only improve the action of probiotics, but may also improve health on their own. Among other things, they would be able to strengthen the immune system of both healthy and sick people. Because they are not living microorganisms, they also offer various advantages over probiotics, such as easier production of resources and a longer storage period.

Relieve symptoms

According to a review study by Wageningen University in the Netherlands, postbiotics may be an alternative to pre- and probiotics in children and adults. The scientists not only found overall positive effects in healthy people, but also found that the substances could relieve the symptoms of certain diseases. For example, postbiotics reduced the burden on young children with diarrhea. In adults, they saw not only beneficial effects in diarrhea, but also in dermatitis – inflammation of the skin.

Smart toilets

Research into postbiotics is still in its infancy, but the focus on it is on the rise. Scientists at The British university King’s College London even believe that in the not too distant future ‘smart’ toilets or ‘smart’ toilet paper will be developed to get a better picture of the specific postbiotics we produce in our gut. This information could then help to optimize people’s diets and thus combat obesity and diabetes, among other things.

Cassidy Perry

A certified dietician specializing in diabetes care, Cassidy has over a decade of experience working with diverse patient backgrounds. She writes health-related articles for the Scientific Origin.