Frequently asked questions

Postbiotics are naturally occurring stable ingredients that have an important role in supporting gut and immune health, directly impacting overall health and wellbeing. Postbiotics offer a wide variety of benefits and can be supplemented into the diets of people, pets, horses, and farm animals like dairy cows, beef, pigs, chickens, and turkeys.

Postbiotics are believed to work in people and animals through five main mechanisms:

  • Modulating the gut microbiota to enable positive shifts in the numbers of beneficial microbes.
  • Enhancing the function and resistance of tight junctions of intestinal epithelial cells (enterocytes) and protecting the gut barrier against disruption.
  • Enhancing the systemic and local immune responses, positively modulating systemic metabolic responses.
  • Modulating cognitive and behavioral functions by interacting with the enteric and central nervous system.

Postbiotics are products of the anaerobic fermentation – carried out without oxygen – using beneficial microorganisms such as yeast and bacteria. After initial fermentation process, the Postbiotics go through a diversity of processes – such as pressure, heat, dehydration, and others – to inanimate the microorganisms responsible for their production while still preserving the beneficial functional metabolites. Finally, the product is milled and packed for distribution. These beneficial functional metabolites are also naturally produced by the microbiota already present in the gut or by supplemented probiotics.

Naturally occurring postbiotics in the gut are more unstable and may shift, since living microorganisms can be easily affected by changes in the environment in which they live. Postbiotics that are produced through a manufacturing process that people and animals ingest are considered extremely stable, naturally occurring products. This helps to limit the difficulties of maintaining the viability of the probiotics, and can directly deliver the active ingredients in the Postbiotics to the gut. These Postbiotics have a longer shelf-life, higher resistance to manufacturing processes, and are easier to store and transport.

Postbiotics may contain intact inanimate microorganisms and/or their structures and fragments such as amino acids, vitamins, short chain fatty acids(SCFA), cell wall fragments, and more. A Postbiotic is derived from a microorganism – yeast and bacteria – and must go through a process to inanimate these microbes so that the final product contains inactivated cells and/or cell components, and may contain metabolites. A Postbiotic must have evidence of health benefits in the target host and assessment of safety for the intended use.

It’s important to clarify that Postbiotics are not viruses, vaccines, filtrates without cell components, purified microbial components – such as proteins, peptides, and exopolysaccharides – or purified microbial metabolites/organic acids.

No. Fermented foods provide people and animals nutrients such as energy, protein, and others. Microbes that are involved in such a fermentation process convert one form of food/nutrients to another. Fermented foods are not required to have health benefits. Also, in fermented foods , sometimes live microbes are present in the final product – yogurt, cheese, certain types of wine, etc. – and sometimes live microbes are not – bread, beer, etc. Additionally, microbes used in the process of creating fermented foods be defined or undefined.

While Postbiotics are created through a fermentation process, they are not a source of energy or protein for people or animals. In contrast to fermented foods, Postbiotics MUST demonstrate health benefits. Also, live microbes, either not present or present in negligible amounts may be present in the final product. More importantly, the microbes that are used in the fermentation process are always defined. As a result, Postbiotics contain ingredients and metabolites that can offer a wide variety of benefits for people and animals by impacting the physiology of the host – people and/or animals – and its gut microbiome.

More and more studies are demonstrating the benefits of using Postbiotics in people and animals. Postbiotics play an important role in supporting gut and immune health, directly impacting overall health and wellbeing. You can review some of the research that been completed here.

Postbiotics can be created in the gut of people and animals. They can also be created through a manufacturing process. Postbiotics are found in functional foods and beverages, and in supplements.

Yes. ‘Postbiotic‘ is a newer terminology that is used to describe this group of products. In the past, some of these products were referred to as “Yeast Culture” because yeast organisms – Saccharomyces cerevisiae – were the microbes used in the fermentation process. Over time some of the beneficial bacterial species were used instead of yeast in the fermentation process. As a result, “Yeast Culture” lost its relevance and was replaced with “Fermentation product of organism X”. During that period, terminologies such as “Saccharomyces cerevisiae fermentation product” (SCFP) or “Lactobacillus acidophilus fermentation product” (LAFP) were introduced. Since the mid-2000s, multiple terminologies with overlapping definitions were proposed to describe Postbiotics; however, there was no consensus among the scientific community. Examples of these terminologies include:

  • Paraprobiotics
  • Parapsychobiotics
  • Ghost probiotics
  • Metabiotics
  • Tyndallized probiotics
  • Non-viable probiotics
  • Heat-killed probiotics
  • Bacterial lysates
  • and Postbiotics

In 2021, the International Scientific Association for Prebiotics and Probiotics (ISAPP) decided that Postbiotics is the best descriptor of this group of products and redefined the term. Since its inception in the early 2000s, ISAPP has redefined terminologies such as Probiotics, Prebiotics, Synbiotics, and Fermented Foods. All these definitions are widely accepted both within the industry and the scientific community. Of course as with any other scientific matter, these definitions are subject to debates among scientists and will be updated in the future to reflect the progress in science. You can review some of the new and historical research that been completed on Postbiotics here.

Apart from above-mentioned terminologies, you may notice that some of the historical research are on “certain infant formulas that are producesd through fermentation process”, or “bacterial lysates that prevent recurrent respiratory tract infections”. These products are similarly categorized today as Postbiotics.

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