Dietitian Melissa Meier explains how postbiotics could be the next big thing for better gut health.
It’s 2020, and gut health is front and centre in the world of wellness. It’s now known that the health of your gut can have a pretty big impact on your overall health. In fact, research has shown that an unhappy gut is linked to anything and everything from diabetes to depression.
This intense spotlight on gut health has led to an explosion in interest in products that can improve gut health. I’m talking pre- and probiotics. But now, science has gone one step further. Say hello to ‘post-biotics’.
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A quick refresher…
In case you’re not up to speed, here’s a quick refresher. Probiotics are the good bacteria living in your gut that can provide a raft of health benefits when in the right balance. You want these ‘good’ bacteria to outweigh the not-so-good kind.
Of course, you can take probiotics in supplement form – but there are many different strains of probiotics, and only some have been scientifically proven to be of benefit. If you want to give them a try, you should talk to your doctor to find out which ones are best for your specific health concerns.
Aside from supplements, you can get probiotics from real food, too. Trendy fermented foods like kefir and kombucha are some good sources, but more humble foods like yoghurt, miso and sourdough bread provide probiotics, too.
Then there’s prebiotics. Basically, without these guys, your gut health is on a downward spiral. That’s because they help the good gut bugs to thrive as they act as their food (hence the name, ‘pre’).
Again, you can get these in supplement form, or naturally from a variety of foods including vegetables (think: asparagus, garlic, onions, chickpeas), bananas, rye and nuts.
So what are postbiotics?
And now for the elephant in the room… “postbiotics”. When it comes to these guys, it’s very early days, but here’s a quick run-down. Essentially, postbiotics are the by-product of gut microbes doing their job. Some research has linked postbiotics to benefits such as improved gastrointestinal function and even dermatitis.
There is potential for these by-products to be analysed after you’ve done a number two, and from these results, give recommendations on what to eat to restore imbalances and improve your health.
Again, this is a relatively fresh area of scientific research – so there’s still a lot of work to be done in order to understand how they work and the potential health benefits. But it’s pretty exciting times, so watch this space!
Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based Accredited Practising Dietitian. You can connect with her at www.honestnutrition.com.au or on Instagram @honest_nutrition.