What are the benefits of postbiotics? Why choose postbiotics instead of probiotics? If you are asking yourself these questions, then you are at the right place. Indeed, because postbiotics are part of the biotics family, they are expected to have a positive impact on microbiota. But there is more than that. Postbiotics also have additional benefits over their probiotic cousins. Let’s take a closer look.
Health benefits of postbiotics
Positive impact on microbiota
The key to biotics is their positive impact on microbiota and postbiotics are no exception to this rule. Their beneficial effects take place at different levels. First, they have an antimicrobial effect. It limits the development of microbes that could cause an infection or lead to the disruption of the microbiota. Second, postbiotics interact directly with the microbiota and by so doing, help maintain a well-balanced microbiota. On the one hand they neutralize harmful bacteria and on the other hand they help beneficial gut bacteria flourish. As you may know, maintaining this state of balance called eubiosis by promoting diversity and abundance of beneficial bacteria is essential for good health.
Enhancement of intestinal barrier
Postbiotics not only interact with the gut microbiota, they also directly protect the cells of the gut. Indeed, the gut cells form a barrier that allows nutrients to pass through during digestion but prevents microbes from entering the body¹. Without protection, these cells can be damaged, which makes the barrier much less tight and gives the opportunity to some harmful bacteria to pass through. This is what is called intestinal permeability². By creating a protective biofilm, postbiotics protect the gut from invasive bacteria which limits the risk of intestinal inflammation.
Activation of the immune system
You probably know that the gut is an essential organ for immunity1. Many elements of the immune system are found in the intestine. Postbiotics are able to stimulate locally those immune system cells which helps the body on a global scale fighting against infections.
Global beneficial effects on health
In addition to their effects on the microbiota and the immune system, postbiotics have beneficial effect on metabolism. They contain compounds such as vitamins and some fatty acids that participate in the proper functioning of the body. Moreover, postbiotics may contain compounds that act as messengers of information and stimulate the transmission of information via the nervous system.
Practical benefits of postbiotics
A risk that is little talked about but that does exist with probiotics is the acquisition of antibiotic resistance genes³ ⁴. Indeed, probiotic bacteria can have genes that make them resistant to antibiotics. Moreover, bacteria can transmit their genes. Once in the digestive system, they are therefore able to transmit this resistance to harmful bacteria. If these bacteria colonize the gut, it will be very difficult to treat the infection. Because they are not living, postbiotics cannot cause antibiotic resistance problems. Similarly, they cannot cause infections such as bacteremia or fungemia.
Finally, the last main benefit of postbiotics is their convenience. As a reminder, let’s go over some of the constraints related to probiotics. To be effective, probiotics must still be alive in the gut. That implies that they have to survive both storage and digestion which is not easy for manufacturers! Probiotics are quite sensitive, so they have to be kept at cool temperature. Moreover, because there is a risk that part of them die, manufacturer tend to overdose their probiotics to be sure that there will still be enough living bacteria in the end. Postbiotics are the ultimate solution to overcome all these constraints. Thanks to their inanimate nature, postbiotics do not need cooling, do not have to survive digestion to be efficient and thus, their dosage is more precise than probiotics’. Moreover, all this makes it possible to use postbiotics in foods and beverages!
To sum up, postbiotics are as efficient as probiotics, they are expected to be safer and more convenient than probiotics. Do not look any further, you have found the best solution to take care of your microbiota and that of your family!
2.Microbiote, vers une révolution thérapeutique, 2020  INSERM. Microbiote intestinal, 2016
3.Masco, L., van Hoorde, K., de Brandt, E., Swings, J., Huys, G., 2006. Antimicrobial susceptibility of Bifidobacterium strains from humans, animals and probiotic products. Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy 58, 85-94.
4.Klare, I., Konstabel, C., Werner, G., Huys, G., Vankerckhoven, V., Kahlmeter, G., Hildebrandt, B., Müller-Bertling, S., Witte, W., Goossens, H., 2007. Antimicrobial susceptibilities of Lactobacillus, Pediococcus and Lactococcus human isolates and cultures intended for probiotic or nutritional use. Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy 59, 900-912.