What are postbiotics? First probiotics, then prebiotics, and now postbiotics. In recent years, we have learned that anything to do with our intestinal microbiota is important for our health. So... What exactly are postbiotics and what do they have to do with our gut microbiota?
PostbioticsPostbiotics are defined as substances produced by probiotic microorganisms that have nutritional, metabolic and immune health benefits. That is, molecules produced mainly by bacteria in the intestinal microbiota that have beneficial activity on health. They are also known as posbiotic metabolites and there are different types of them:
- Group B vitamins, vitamin K
- Amino acids such as tryptophan, tyrosine and phenylalanine
- Short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) such as acetate, propionate and butyrate
- Antimicrobial peptides such as defensins and bacteriocins
- Neurotransmitters such as GABA, serotonin, acetylcholine
Short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs)
Short-chain fatty acids (SCFA): acetate and propionate are released into the bloodstream and used in the liver or peripheral tissues, while butyrate (or butyric acid) is absorbed and used as an energy source for the cells of the colon (as food for the colocyte).
It is for this reason that butyrate has been most studied and is associated with multiple benefits.
SCFAs are produced when probiotic bacteria ferment dietary fibre, particularly prebiotic fibre. The profile of the SCFAs that are formed varies according to the type of bacteria that predominate in our microbiota but also according to the type of diet.
When the diet is rich in vegetables, as in the case of the Mediterranean diet, it contains a lot of fibre and more SCFAs, such as butyrate, are produced in the intestine.
But if the diet is low in vegetables, there is a deficit in the production of butyrate and therefore this can cause problems such as increased intestinal permeability, inflammation, dysbiosis, allergies and other disturbances both intestinal and extra-intestinal. Read our article on the best foods to reduce intestinal permeability.
Benefits of butyrate
Butyrate: - helps to balance the intestinal microbiota and to regulate transit (diarrhoea, constipation). - contributes to strengthening the integrity of the intestinal mucosa and epithelium by improving the function of the intestinal barrier - possesses anti-inflammatory and immunomodulating activity
Read our article on the benefits of butyrate
Butyrate as supplement
Butyrate is available as a dietary supplement in the form of microencapsulated butyrin, the most bioavailable form of butyric acid. Read more about Butycaps. Author: Anna Paré, pharmacist and nutricionist
Manrique D. y González E. Ácidos grasos de cadena corta (ácido butírico) y patologías intestinales. Nutr Hosp 2017; 34(Supl.4):58-61.
San Miguel A. et al. Role of Butyric Acid in Food and Intestinal Health. Immunol Infect 2018 Oct 1(1). Postbiotics and Their Potential Applications in Early Life Nutrition and Beyond. Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Sep 20;20(19).