Are Postbiotics What's Missing From Your Gut Health Regime?

They're the new prebiotics.

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Image: Camille Brodard

By now, it’s common knowledge that your gut health is an incredibly important part of your overall wellbeing. What’s going on in your belly can affect everything from your immune system to your weight and mood. It also happens to be an extremely complicated area of health. Not only is there a long list of things we should be doing to introduce good bacteria, we also have to worry about the baddies!

There are prebiotics supplements that promote the growth of good bacteria. Then there’s probiotics like kombucha and kefir that help maintain the health of your gastrointestinal tract. Oh, and in case that’s not complicated enough, prebiotics are actually food for probiotics. Frankly, it’s a little exhausting to keep up with!
But there’s set to be new advancements in gut health that ironically enough, should actually make things less complicated. Move over pre and probiotics, postbiotics are coming through!

What are postbiotics?

Scientists have learned that it may not actually be the probiotics themselves that heal the gut. Rather, it’s the molecules and chemicals (the postbiotics) they secrete that actually lend a helping hand. Dr Paul Bertrand, head of RMIT University’s Gut Neuroscience Lab explains that while probiotics can improve our gut health, it’s extremely difficult to know which strain individuals actually need. In other words, you could be spending a boatload on exxy probiotics that actually do nothing for you.

If we could isolate that individual chemical, we could pop that into a pill and that chemical might be a more efficient and easier way to deliver the benefit of the bacteria. It might be a drug or it might be something akin to a vitamin or it might be something else acting in the gut. It might be something those bacteria are doing to other bacteria in the gut.
-Dr. Paul Bertrand, via Ninemsn Coach

The problem is that currently, there are thousands of strains of gut bacteria that scientists know nothing about. So, in order to be able to offer an individualised postbiotic approach to gut health, a lot more research needs to be done.
So, until postbiotics make their way into your local health store, Dr. Paul Betrand says the best thing you can for your gut health is follow a varied, high-fibre diet. That means lots of different types of fruit, veggies and grains. Eating a wide range of fibre sources will expose you to different types of bacteria, which has been proven to boost your gut health.

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