Prologue on Postbiotics
Microorganisms that inhabit our body, their environment and metabolites are known as microbiomes. They can be isolated from every part of our body; however, they are well populated in the gut (digestive tract). A true symbiotic relationship is seen between our body and the gut microbiota; our body provides a constant, nutrient-rich environment for the microbes, and in return, receives a number of benefits: strengthening of the immune system, optimal absorption and digestion of food, reduced growth of harmful bacteria, and maintenance of intestinal barrier integrity. These beneficial effects are observed locally and in distant organs due to systemic distribution of the metabolites.
First, let's review prebiotics and probiotics, prebiotics are substrates in simple words- mostly fiber selectively used as food for probiotics; probiotics are good microorganisms that reside in the gut and improve the health of the gut. There are currently three main ways in which the microbiota can be regulated: use of prebiotics, probiotics, postbiotics.
The bacteria in our gut, called probiotics, metabolize the fiber (or prebiotics) in your diet, it generates something called short-chain fatty acids, which are postbiotics. The short-chain fatty acids, peptides and other metabolites have direct or indirect beneficial effects on our gut health, thereby improving our overall health.
Postbiotics do not contain live microbes, so its intake does not pose any health risk; it supports their health in a number of ways. Examples of postbiotics include short-chain fatty acids, such as acetate, butyrate and propionate. These are produced by fermenting undigested carbohydrates in the intestine. It provides fuel for the cells of our gut lining, and supports immune system functions. They impact many metabolic processes like insulin resistance. Postbiotics are studied more closely for their potential health benefits, including anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, anti obesogenic (anti-obesity), antihypertensive, hypocholesterolemic, and antioxidant activities. Postbiotics are researched for boosting gut health in critically ill patients, young children, and premature neonates who are immunocompromised and shouldn’t consume live, active cultures.
Sourdough bread partly delivers health benefits from the impact of its fermentation process on the carbohydrate content of bread. Fermentation lowers the content of FODMAPs 9 short chain carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine and prone to absorb water and ferment in the colon) causing discomfort for sensitive guts, so people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and sensitivities to FODMAPs can more easily tolerate it. The high temperature for baking sourdough bread typically kills the live microorganisms, but metabolites remain intact. In comparison, unprocessed fermented food delivers both postbiotics and the live microorganisms that produce the postbiotics.
Boost probiotics in your diet found in:
Yogurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, idli, dosa
Increase your intake of beans, legumes, fruits, vegetables, seeds and nuts.
Foods rich in butyrate
Ghee and butter are good food sources of butyrate, it has gut- healing properties. For lactose intolerant people supplements can be taken. Other foods that can help your body produce more butyrate include legumes such as lentils, chickpeas and red kidney beans as well as cashews, oats, cooked and cooled rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes and green banana.
Probiotics along with prebiotic rich foods like apples, whole grains, legumes, onions, leeks, garlic, spinach, blueberries, etc.
Taking supplements is an option.
Recipe of the month: Homemade prebiotic granola
- Gluten-free oats or regular oats- 3 cups
- Almonds with skin sliced in half lengthwise- ½ cup, walnuts ½ cup
- Pumpkin seeds ¼ cup, sunflower seeds ¼ cup, hemp seeds ½ cup
- Coconut shreds ¼ cup
- Maple syrup 1 cup or per taste, ghee ½-¾ cup
- Orange rind 2 tbsp (optional)
- Vanilla extract 1 tsp (optional)
Preheat the oven to 325 F. Mix ¾ of maple syrup and ¼ cup ghee with oats and place it tightly or single layer depending on your preference in a baking tray lined with parchment paper, on the middle rack. Bake for 15-18 minutes, stir the oats. Mix nuts and seeds with remaining ghee and maple syrup. Toss the oats in the baking tray and mix in nuts. Bake for 15 minutes and then add coconut and orange rind. Bake for another 7-8 minutes or until the oats turn medium brown.
Remove and cool, then snack as is or enjoy with any milk or yogurt.
To Our Health!
Bhavi Nirav is a certified Iyengar yoga teacher, Registered Dietitian/M.S., R.D., L.D., and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org