Nutrition is a constantly evolving field, and along with it comes the frequent surfacing of new terminology. While you’re probably familiar with probiotics, and may be familiar with prebiotics (both explained below just in case), there are two newer terms on the scene: synbiotics and postbiotics. It’s our goal to keep you at the forefront of nutritional thinking, so we’re breaking down each of these concepts and how they fit into your personal health plan.
Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria themselves, like the lactobacillus and bifidobacterium species, which mainly colonize your small intestine and large intestine, respectively. Prebiotics are foods — primarily types of carbohydrate and fiber — that you can’t digest, but your microbes can. They feed your probiotic bacteria and help them flourish.
With synbiotics, think synergy — they’re basically a combination of probiotics and prebiotics, working together for your benefit. In the scientific literature, they’re defined as “synergistic mixtures of probiotics and prebiotics that beneficially affect the host by improving the survival and colonization of live beneficial microorganisms in the gastrointestinal tract of the host.” The benefits of both prebiotics and probiotics may be enhanced when they’re presented to the body in tandem.
And then there’s the newest term in the -biotics word: postbiotics. These are the beneficial products that probiotic bacteria make for us, like good fats, proteins, cellular components and signaling molecules. While they’re mostly used in clinical research settings for now, the thought is that they may deliver the benefits of probiotics in a more efficient way. One major area of interest around postbiotics is their ability to help modulate, or balance, the immune system, which may play an exciting role in conditions like autoimmune diseases.
How to integrate all the “-biotics” into your diet for optimal digestive and immune health:
You can easily support your microbiome with specific foods and supplements! We’ll be going into more detail about the different types of “-biotics” and how to incorporate them into your daily routine in forthcoming blogs devoted to each category, and the foods and supplements you can take to improve your gut and overall health.
Want more support?
Our team of integrative practitioners is happy to help you identify the underlying causes of health imbalances, and the best foods and supplements to rebalance your system. Call our office to find out more: 212-989-9828.