We recently discussed the microbiome –– what it is, how it works, and how it can lead to better overall health –– in a previous article. If you haven’t read it yet, we highly recommend checking it out here.
But without further adieu, let’s dive into probiotics and prebiotics. Because once we have a good understanding of the microbiome, these two elements are essential for getting the most out of it.
There are three elements we’re going to discuss: prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics. They all might sound similar, but they’re fundamentally different. Prebiotics are easy to remember because “pre” means that they come first. The “pro” in probiotics means “for life” because probiotics are the actual microorganisms that live within the microbiome. Postbiotics are a relatively new term that adds more bioactivity to our microbiome. Just think “pre,” “pro,” and “post.” Easy, right?
Prebiotics, what are prebiotics? Technically, prebiotics are really just the food that the probiotics or the microorganisms need to eat. This includes anything that’s acting as a food source for probiotics (the actual microorganisms).
The bacteria in our microbiome love to munch on things like plant fibers, fruit fibers, and then an extra coarse fiber called cellulose that comes from tough greens and non-digestible, complex carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are essentially sugars, and complex carbohydrates are a string of sugars linked together.
The difference between the fibers and carbohydrates we get from the calories in our food is the chemical bonds linking the sugar molecules together. It turns out that we do not have the enzymes required to be able to break those bonds and liberate those sugars and utilize them in our own metabolism. But the different microorganisms living inside us do. They take the waste products from the fiber we can’t digest, utilize it for their own fuel –– and provide us with a number of health benefits in the process.
Probiotics are the microorganisms that live within the microbiome. To be clear, these microorganisms aren’t just bacteria. They consist of a lot of different things including primitive bacteria and protozoa to fungi. Even viruses can make up part of the microbiome. Making sure that we have enough probiotics is important to our overall health, but what we’re discovering is even more important is the composition of those organisms –– the population of all of the different kinds. This is called biodiversity.
Postbiotics is a relatively new term, so let’s discuss what they are and what they do. As unappetizing as this might sound, it’s easiest to understand postbiotics by thinking of them as microbiome poop. But before you look away, let’s explain.
The process of making beer or alcohol is essentially giving bacteria sugar to eat. Let’s take yeast for example. Add sugar water to yeast –– whether it comes from grapes or grains –– and the yeast chews up the sugar and excretes alcohol. Alcohol is simply a byproduct of the process. So the next time you’re enjoying a glass of wine or beer, remember that you’re drinking yeast poop. Cheers!
Our microbiome works much the same way. Microorganisms take the food we can’t digest, metabolize it, and turn it into metabolites. These metabolites are, in turn, responsible for many of the health benefits that occur within the body by creating short chain fatty acids like butyrate, for example, that improves the cells in our digestive tract. They also create epithelium that helps facilitate cellular turnover.
Postbiotics are responsible for many of the compounds that are causing researchers to call the microbiome our “second brain.” That might sound a little weird at first, but it starts making a lot of sense as more and more research comes in. Because the molecules that are being created and entering our bloodstream are acting as cell signaling molecules that create a direct connection from our brains to our digestive tracts through nerves.
So how do we get postbiotics? We can grow them in little test tubes and Petri dishes in the laboratories and then add heat to activate the bacteria. We can do crude extracts. We can isolate the cell walls from these different organisms. We can do water-soluble extracts, we can do lipid-soluble extracts. And again, the whole goal is to isolate these specific metabolites so that we can give them back to people and experience the health benefits. And the reason that’s so important is we’re only able to grow up a relatively small handful of literally the trillions of different microorganisms living within us.
Taking prebiotic and probiotic supplements.
There’s a lot of buzz in the marketplace about probiotics. One only needs to peruse the health and wellness section of any grocery store to find an abundance of probiotic supplements. And having an abundance of healthy probiotics in the body is critically important. However, where science often misses the mark is not talking about the importance of probiotics and prebiotics taken together. Prebiotics –– the nutrients bacteria need –– to thrive can’t be overlooked.
Think of the relationship between probiotics and prebiotics this way: let’s say you want to raise chickens in your backyard, so you’ll have access to nice, high-quality eggs. Taking only probiotics would be the equivalent of filling your backyard with chickens but never feeding them. Prebiotics are important to help increase the amount of fiber we’re getting. And what’s so great with especially well-formulated prebiotic products is you can really target the specific fiber or complex carbohydrate that you’re giving to help support specific populations of those healthy probiotics. In other words, you’re targeting the nutrients for the specific microorganisms the probiotic is looking to reintroduce into your system.
When shopping for probiotic and prebiotic supplements, it’s easy to remember that not all are created equal. You get what you pay for. At LifeVantage, we’ve invested time, energy, and a lot of research into understanding what makes both prebiotics and probiotics stand out among their peers and really deliver health benefits in a way that nothing else on the market does.
The LifeVantage Prebiotic is specifically designed to help support all of those microorganisms and especially those bacteria that are living in our digestive system. For example, the blend we’ve created has elements like fructo oligosaccharides, zulo-oligosaccharides, inulin. It contains fibers from brown seaweed as well. So you can see it’s not meant to necessarily be these kinds of bulking agents, but it’s specifically designed to be able to deliver the food to especially those bacteria living in our digestive tract.*
Where the LifeVantage Probiotic steps in is facilitating a healthy microbiome by providing the right biodiversity of microorganisms. What sets this particular blend apart is that it contains six different strains of probiotics that are scientifically proven to be healthy, instead of the one or two strains that most of the competition provides. *
The other key differentiator when it comes to the LifeVantage Probiotic comes down to how effective it is at actually delivering the probiotics to the gut. To do this, we put up to six billion colony-forming units, or CFUs into every daily dose. In everyday terms, this means that each dose is incredibly potent. LifeVantage Prebiotic is also engineered to dissolve slowly. This is incredibly important because a quickly-dissolving probiotic supplement will become immediately exposed to a harsh digestive system –– bile and crazy Ph levels that quickly kill many of the healthy bacteria as they travel to the gut. By timing each daily dose so it doesn’t completely dissolve for 52 minutes, we make sure more of the probiotic CFUs get exactly where they need to go. *
However, the LifeVantage Probiotic doesn’t stop there. It includes compounds called Beta-Glucans. Beta-Glucans are nothing more than complex carbohydrates. But they’re known for placing the immune system in a heightened state when they’re metabolized by immune cells. *
Diet and supplements: the perfect combo.
Creating a healthy microbiome comes with a lot of health benefits that extend from your gut to your immune system and brain.
PhysIQ Prebiotic and Probiotic are fantastic daily ways to make sure your microbiome has the right biodiversity of healthy bacteria and all the nutrients they need to do their jobs.* But never overlook the importance of a good diet to help unleash the maximum capacity of your microbiome. Eating whole, locally sourced food that contain the right amount of fiber and nutrients along with a daily supplement of prebiotics and probiotics can do wonders for your body and health.
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
The views expressed in this podcast are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of LifeVantage or any other agency, organization, employer or company.
The employee product experiences shared in this podcast are unique to the individual sharing his or her experience and are not a guarantee that any consumer will experience the same product results or benefits.
If you have questions about whether or not (LifeVantage Product) is a product you can take, consult with your healthcare provider.