Forget Probiotics, Try Postbiotics: The Surprising Key To Optimal Gut Health


The gut, an essential part of the digestive system, houses microbes that interact with the host’s immune system. Microorganisms are found in areas constantly exposed to the external environment (e.g., the skin, upper respiratory tract, or urogenital tract). However, they are most abundant in the gastrointestinal tract and play a critical role in protecting the host from harmful pathogens. The microbes also participate in various metabolic processes which occur in the body.

It is essential to maintain good gut health as this microbiome:
-Breaks down food, aiding the process of breakdown and nutrition absorption.
-Helps the body fight against other bacteria and viruses which are harmful to the body.
-Help communicate to the brain and help set the appetite which prevents overeating, obesity, and other diet-related diseases like high cholesterol, coronary heart disease, and more.
-Produce other substances which have favorable effects on the functioning of the body.

Although the gut microbiome is present since birth, it can be influenced by external factors like our environment and the kind of nutrition we give to our body. Consumption of probiotics is one of the most common and efficient ways of influencing the gut microbiome in a positive manner.

Probiotics are nothing but live bacteria that can be consumed and are beneficial for the gut and the functioning of the body overall. Most of the bacteria present in these probiotics are very similar to the microorganisms already present in the gut. Probiotics are generally present in fermented foods like yogurt, some dietary supplements, and even some beauty products for topical use.

Probiotics are essential for the body but they might not be completely safe.

Probiotics have a lot of associated health risks like:
-Limited knowledge about the frequency and dosage of probiotics, as well as a lack of awareness regarding the potential severity of side effects caused by their consumption.
-If someone has a weakened immune system, taking probiotics can be harmful. The sudden increase in microbes can lead to severe reactions.
-Probiotics can also cause infections and the release of harmful substances in the digestive tract.
-Probiotic products can vary in their contents, which may pose different health risks due to the presence of various bacteria.

While probiotics consist of bacteria-cultured food, post-biotics do not contain any microorganisms. Postbiotics enter as the real superheroes here!

Postbiotics are end products produced by microbes and are considered healthy by-products of bacteria’s life processes with lower health risks. Postbiotics are also produced as a result of fermentation. Although postbiotics do not contain live microorganisms, they show a beneficial health effect through similar mechanisms (as that of probiotics) while minimizing the risks associated with their intake. They help in:
-Reducing inflammation
-Strengthening the immune system
-Fighting cancer-causing cells
-Preventing infections caused by sudden increases in bacteria.

While the consumption of postbiotics is very beneficial, it is important to keep the following points in mind while consuming them:
-Avoid consuming an excessive amount of postbiotic-rich foods to prevent discomfort, bloating, and digestion-related problems like flatulence.
-Always consult your doctor before consuming any form of probiotic or postbiotic supplements and be sure to stick to the prescribed frequency and dosage.
-Do not consume postbiotics if you have a weakened immune system or are currently suffering from a threatening disease.

Final takeaway

Therefore, postbiotics can act as an indispensable way of incorporating healthy bacteria into your diet in order to improve your gut health. However, precaution is always necessary while consuming them and ensuring that they bring out the most beneficial impacts on your body. When done properly, consumption of postbiotics can ensure optimum gut health promoting a stronger immune system, better digestion, and a healthier life in general.

(The article is reviewed by Monalisa Deka, Senior Health Content Editor)

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