After Pre- and Probiotics it now the turn for Postbiotics?
Since the last two decades pre- and probiotics got a lot of attention from consumer and industry side and can be found today in plenty of functional food products and with the increasing understanding of the role of the microbiome for human health and fitness they even got an additional boost in more recent years.
On top of this, the next big boost for microbiome enhancing products is already observable at the horizon and is called postbiotics and describes the metabolites from probiotics, as well the substances and enzymes, which get released after the death of a bacterium (protolysis) and which have shown in several studies similar or even the same health effects than the application of living probiotics itself, but are way easier to handle by producers. Producers don’t have to take care that the probiotic bacteria have the adequate medium to grow or stay alive in the product or is not killed during the production process anymore. The acidity and different nutrient levels in the product or even expected shelf-life of the product doesn’t play such a big role anymore and substances can be way easier protected by simple methods like encapsulation than living microorganisms. In addition Probiotics have to be fed with the right prebiotics to be most beneficial, which is mostly in the hands of the consumer and with an artificial biotechnology setup producing of beneficial substances, produced by probiotic bacteria with the right substrates which then get put into a product, the consumer can’t do much wrong anymore.
With all these benefits in comparison to probiotics in mind, the Food and supplement industry is already developing several products including postbiotics. Time to look more closely at the topic area of postbiotics and what health benefits they have and what customer needs they could serve.
As described before the term postbiotics describes the metabolites of probiotics and what gets released after the death of the cell. These substances can be Lipids and short chained fatty-acids (e.g. butyrate, propionate, dimethyl acetyl-derived plasmalogen), vitamins/co-factors (e.g., B-group vitamins), proteins (e.g. lactocepin, p40 molecule), carbohydrates (e.g. galactose-rich polysaccharide, teichoic acids), organic acids (e.g., propionic and 3-phenyllactic acid) and complexes molecules such as peptidoglycan-derived muropeptides, lipoteichoic acid and have all different effects on the microbiota, health and intestine wall (mucosa). Way too many substances with way too many health effects to be able to describe them all here in a short blog post, but I will pick out three to give you an idea.
Exopolysaccharides, for example, from Lactobacillus plantarum and Bifidobacteria, which are normally sitting in on top of the cell membrane and released after the protolysis into the intestine, have strong radical scavenging effects, protecting the mucosa (intestinal wall) against oxidative stress and reducing, therefore, the chances of inflammation. This could, for example, be an interesting substance for people with ulcerative colitis, Morbus Crohn and irritable bowel, which are chronic diseases, which are linked too much oxidative stress.
Lipoteichoic acids, also part of the cell membrane of many probiotic bacteria are described to have antioxidant, antitumor and beneficial immunomodulatory effects. So this would also be an interesting substance for people suffering from the diseases above. Especially for people with ulcerative colitis, which is an inflammation, and which could be decreased via the immunomodulatory effect of the lipoteichoic acid.
Short-chained fatty acids, which are for example metabolites from the fiber digestion of many probiotic bacteria strains can modulate the homeostasis of glucose and insulin secretion and can also have a positive effect the lipid metabolism of a person.1 Which would be interesting for people with diabetes and pre-diabetes as well as for people aiming to lose weight.
For more Infos on the health effects we recommend the Article Postbiotics: An evolving term within the functional foods field, published in Trends in Food Science & Technology in Volume 75.² or get directly in Touch with us.
Douglas J. Morrison, Tom Preston; Formation of short-chain fatty acids by the gut microbiota and their impact on human metabolism; 2016 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4939913/)
J.E. Aguilar-Toalá, R. Garcia-Varela, H.S. Garcia, V. Mata-Haro, A.F. González-Córdova, B. Vallejo-Cordoba, A. Hernández-Mendoza; Postbiotics: An evolving term within the functional foods field, Trends in Food Science & Technology, Volume 75; 2018; Pages 105-11