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Welcoming Postbiotics; The Newcomer to Probiotics and Prebiotics Family

Updated: Feb 8, 2023

Figure 1: Picture of Lactobacillus sp.

Probiotics and Prebiotics

In recent decades, probiotics and prebiotics have gained prominence. They are scientifically proven to boost the gut immune system. Can you distinguish between probiotics and prebiotics? Let me help you. Probiotics are “a living microbial which beneficially affects the host by improving microbial balance” [1]. Seven microbial organisms frequently used in probiotic products are Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Saccharomyces, Streptococcus, Enterococcus, Escherichia, and Bacillus [2] which leads to gut health, mood balance, and good sleep found in many fermented foods. If you consume yogurt, then congratulations, you are on the right path to maintaining your gut health. You can read articles about probiotics consumption here. On the other hand, prebiotics is the substances to keep probiotics active and alive [3]. You can find prebiotics in garlic, asparagus, leeks, bananas, apples, oats, and many more [4]. On the other hand, prebiotics is the food for probiotics. And now, the family is expanding. Welcome; postbiotics!!

What are Postbiotics? Have you heard it before?

Since probiotics, a living creature also consumes food, you could guess that they will also have something to waste. And what is the waste? Yup, that is “Postbiotics”. Postbiotics are the bioactive compounds the probiotic bacteria release or produce when they consume prebiotics (fiber) [5]. There are various types of postbiotics which are short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), bacterial lysates (BLs), lipopolysaccharides, exopolysaccharides, and enzymes [6].

What do they do to your body?

The term waste is sometimes used as impractical. However, postbiotics are an exception. Although the exact benefits of postbiotics are just like the iceberg in the ocean, here are possible pleiotropic effects. Let’s find out! Firstly, most of the postbiotics are amino acids, which can be linked to be an anti-aging product. A study in 2011 found that 34 adults with atopic dermatitis took postbiotics for 2-3 months significantly reduced the extremity of illness [7]. Secondly, bacterial lipoteichoic acid (LTA), one of the components of bacterial cell wall fragments produced by Lactobacillus can encourage the activation of mast cells to defend from bacterial and viral infection by releasing cathelicidin [8], an antimicrobial peptide. Thirdly, as an anti-inflammatory agent by controlling the immune system by activating G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) and inhibiting histone deacetylase. SCFAs, one of the various postbiotics, are behind this process [9]. And the last to discuss is it helps to relieve colitis. A study of 6 mice induced with dextran sodium sulfate (DSS) for initiating colitis with the pre-treatment of Muramyl Dipeptide (MDP) in vivo showed that MDP, the postbiotics, improved the condition of gut permeability and promoted intestinal barrier refinement by increasing the production of Zonula occludens-1 and E-cadherin. MDP also encourages proliferation and lower apoptosis of intestinal epithelial cells [10].

From now on, you may consider adding postbiotics as your supplement. Or alternatively, you could increase your probiotics and prebiotics intake to produce more postbiotics. See you with healthier body and mind ;)


[1] Fuller R. (1989). Probiotics in man and animals. The Journal of applied bacteriology, 66(5), 365–378.

[3] Postbiotics May Help Protect and Support Health—Here's What They Are and How You Can Get Them |

[4] The 19 Best Prebiotic Foods You Should Eat |

[5] What Are Postbiotics? A Comprehensive Overview |

[6] Żółkiewicz, J., Marzec, A., Ruszczyński, M., & Feleszko, W. (2020). Postbiotics-A Step Beyond Pre- and Probiotics. Nutrients, 12(8), 2189.

[7] Moroi, M., Uchi, S., Nakamura, K., Sato, S., Shimizu, N., Fujii, M., Kumagai, T., Saito, M., Uchiyama, K., Watanabe, T., Yamaguchi, H., Yamamoto, T., Takeuchi, S., & Furue, M. (2011). Beneficial effect of a diet containing heat-killed Lactobacillus paracasei K71 on adult type atopic dermatitis. The Journal of dermatology, 38(2), 131–139.

[8] Wang, Z., MacLeod, D. T., & Di Nardo, A. (2012). Commensal bacteria lipoteichoic acid increases skin mast cell antimicrobial activity against vaccinia viruses. Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950), 189(4), 1551–1558.

[9] Van der Hee, B., & Wells, J. M. (2021). Microbial Regulation of Host Physiology by Short-chain Fatty Acids. Trends in microbiology, 29(8), 700–712.

[10] You, Y., Xiao, Y., Lu, Y., Du, J., Cai, H., Cai, W., & Yan, W. (2022). Postbiotic muramyl dipeptide alleviates colitis via activating autophagy in intestinal epithelial cells. Frontiers in pharmacology, 13, 1052644.


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