Maybe this is the first you've heard of the term "postbiotics." We'll get to that shortly. But let's first discuss the one digestive system freeloader you're probably most familiar with: probiotics....
You probably know at least a little bit about probiotics, those microscopic good bugs in your gut.
In a healthy immune system, the gut will contain about 80% friendly bacteria and 20% unfriendly.
Think of a healthy gut like a party. If at least 80% of the people there are friendly, you're going to have a good time. But if the rowdy, unfriendly contingent number about one-third or more, trouble starts brewing.
When too many unfriendly strains of bacteria (or yeast) populate the gut, lots of things in the body can go wrong. Leaky gut and poor gut-brain communication included, the latter of which may result in mental dysfunction.
So if it's better for your health to have more beneficial bacteria living in your gut, what's a good source of probiotics?
YOGURT & FERMENTED FOODS: OVERRATED?Many people say yogurt. But most yogurts are too processed, contain too much sugar and don't have nearly enough strains or colony-forming-units (CFUs) of probiotics to make a drastic difference in gut health.
Fermented foods and drinks such as kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi contain lots of probiotics. But for some people with serious digestive disorders, these fermented foods are intolerable and may exacerbate the condition. That's because fermented foods increase histamine levels in the body (read this excellent article for more info on this subject, written by a pharmacist/functional medicine practitioner). Avoid fermented foods at all costs if you have an autoimmune disorder. (We discussed a good diet plan--the AIP diet--last week on our blog.)
The easiest solution for getting enough friendly bacteria in your gut is taking a supplement. Make sure each capsule or serving contains 10 billion CFU's. Unfortunately, not all supplements are created equal. You'll have to do your research (ConsumerLab.com is a great source of information.) Or get a good recommendation from a functional health/nutritional expert.
PREBIOTICS: FUEL FOR PROBIOTICSThe friendly bacteria in your gut--the probiotics--are having a party in your gastrointestinal tract. It's a warm, cozy, comfy environment with lots of free food. And their favorite food is a particular type of fiber called prebiotics.
Simply put, prebiotics are the fuel for probiotics. Lots of veggies, including green, leafy ones are rich sources of prebiotics. But here's where the microscopic world of prebiotics gets a bit confusing.
You see, there's a few terms you might hear relating to prebiotics: inulin, FOS (Fructo-oligosaccharides) and FODMAP (acronym divulged shortly).
Let's keep it short and simple:
INULIN & FOS: KEEPING THE COLON HAPPY?Inulin and FOS are very similar. They are both types of carbohydrates and considered prebiotics. The main difference between the two is the molecular structure, which won't be explained for brevity sake here; we can tell your eyes are starting to glaze over. :)
Also, another difference between the two is that they each colonize different sides of the colon (inulin: left; FOS: right).
Both inulin and FOS are indigestible. But they are somehow still considered soluble fibers even though they mostly remain undigested. Why? Well, they eventually do get metabolized. But not until they reach the colon. Their primary purpose is to act as fertilizer feed for the friendly bacteria in your colon.
Certain strains of bacteria, such as lactobacillus species love to feast on FOS and inulin. In light of this, inulin/FOS are starting to be hyped as a beneficial supplement.
However, those with autoimmune diseases and others sensitive to fermented foods might want to limit both naturally occurring foods with FOS and inulin --artichoke, chickory root, garlic and jicama are rich in inulin prebiotic fiber -- as well as supplements containing these prebiotics. People with sensitivity to FODMAPS (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols) cannot tolerate these short-chain carbs.
LonoLife bone broth contains chickory root. Thus, for most people, our bone broth is an excellent source of inulin, which again, is food for probiotics. If you have an autoimmune disorder, having a serving of bone broth will most likely not exacerbate your symptoms. However, to be on the safe side, pay attention to how you feel within a couple hours after consuming bone broth. And don't have anything else with the bone broth, otherwise you won't know for sure if bone broth will cause symptoms.
In short, both inulin and FOS are soluble fibers, considered prebiotics. They travel through the GI tract and don't get digested until they reach the colon. In the colon, they ferment. And then they become appetizers for friendly gut bacteria. But they may also feed harmful bacteria as well. Overall, for most people with healthy immune and digestive systems, the flatulence that may arise from eating foods rich in these prebiotic fibers is a small price to pay for optimal gut health. (But for those with FODMAP sensitivity, autoimmune disease or small intestine bacterial overgrowth [SIBO], prebiotic fibers may exacerbate symptoms.)
POSTBIOTICS: POOP OF PROBIOTICS?
Dr. Jonathan Carp, a medical doctor and creator of the popular brand of zero-calorie pasta, Miracle Noodle, succinctly describes the benefits of probiotics in this blog post:
"The benefits associated with probiotics are not solely related to the bacteria itself, but to what the bacteria actually releases."
And what the bacterium releases is what's called postbiotics. In a nutshell, postbiotics are beneficial chemicals and compounds for the body that are the result of the probiotics feasting on prebiotics. (The poop of the probiotics? Now that's food for thought!)
In conclusion, although our bone broth and collagen protein products are not directly linked to prebiotic fiber, probiotics or postbiotics, they nonetheless are excellent for gut health, including for those with FODMAP sensitivity and autoimmune disorders. But if you are free of inflammatory conditions, do eat foods that are naturally rich in prebiotics and probiotics (or take probiotic supplements). Your digestive system will thank you by releasing postbiotics.