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Posted on: August 10th, 2021

Recently, a lot of research has been conducted on postbiotics to discover how they function and how they can help our health. A comprehensive definition of what a postbiotic is hasn’t been available until now.

A panel of scientific experts under the supervision of the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) recently updated their definition and scope for what a postbiotic is. Even more recently, a published paper by scientists all over the globe had a consensus agreement on the definition of a postbiotic:

A postbiotic is “a preparation of inanimate microorganisms and/or their components that confers a health benefit on the host.”

The Potential Impacts of Postbiotic Research

Modern strategies for changing the human gut microbiome usually include dietary modifications and/or biotherapeutics. Postbiotics have shown the potential to be a game-changer in the field of gut microbiome research.

It is important to note that not all bacteria in the gut and their associated byproducts have health benefits. This is important to note due to the volume of bacteria in the gut. 

“For instance, in 2019 Patrice D. Cani and colleagues showed that metabolic outcomes in individuals who are overweight and obese when treated with pasteurized Akkermansia muciniphila were more consistent compared to individuals who received live A. muciniphila.

The new definition of postbiotics can include metabolites if they are accompanied by non-living microbial biomasses, like what is found in fermented foods. Purified microbe-derived substances (butyrate etc), however, are not considered postbiotics.

Are Postbiotics Safe to Use as Dietary Supplements?

The new definition of postbiotics notes that they may be taken as supplements, prescription drugs, and food in general. But the consensus definition of postbiotic also came with many concerns from researchers. Regulatory challenges and specific criteria for health and safety came into question during discussions.

Postbiotics must be initially prepared by a living microorganism but treated in such a way as to not be able to replicate, which requires a specific process when conducted in a lab. Lab temperatures, cleanliness, and drying are all important in safety, and quality considerations and standards should be put into place.

“On the whole, postbiotics include inanimate microbes with or without metabolites that have been shown to have health benefits and are likely to be safer and more stable than live counterparts. As in the case of probiotics and prebiotics, clinical trials in different populations are needed before their systematic use is recommended.”

Research at Biofortis

As amazing as the many potential benefits of postbiotics sound, research confirming these benefits are still in their infancy. Scientists and researchers are still learning the process of how to consistently develop healthy postbiotics and the specific requirements and types of postbiotics for each outcome or condition.

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