Postbiotics are the newest gut health trend promising to improve our skin, boost our strength and even reverse signs of ageing. But what are they and do they live up to the hype?
29 November 2022
IT IS 9.30am and you are feeling a bit off. You have just finished a round of antibiotics and know your gut microbes have taken a hit. You pop a pill and head out, safe in the knowledge that while the microscopic communities in your intestines may take a while to regroup, the health benefits they confer will be back up to speed much sooner. Welcome to the world of postbiotics.
As evidence piles up about the importance of our microbiome to our health, so too has the desire to boost it. First came probiotics, the live bacteria you need in your gut. Then there were prebiotics, or the foods these microbes need to thrive. Now, there is a new kid on the block: postbiotics, a catch-all term to describe dead bacteria and the products excreted by live microbes.
It turns out that postbiotics do a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to the relationship between your gut microbiome – made up of bacteria, fungi and viruses – and good health. And by cutting out the go-between, you can sidestep many of the problems that come with trying to optimise gut health by other means. “There’s excitement building around postbiotics,” says Colin Hill, a microbiologist at University College Cork in Ireland. “It feels like we’re at a nexus where this field is potentially going to explode.” Certainly, lifestyle magazines and health food shops are extolling their benefits for everything …