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Word of the Day: Postbiotics

Postbiotic compounds may have a significant health impact.

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Fruits containing postbiotics

You’ve heard of probiotics and likely prebiotics, but this member of the “biotics” family may be new to you: postbiotics.

Postbiotics are not living microorganisms, but rather compounds such as short-chain fatty acids that are produced when probiotics feed on prebiotics in your gut. Scientists in the microbiome field believe that these postbiotic compounds have a profound effect on human health.

For instance, we are learning that postbiotic compounds are likely what mediates the impact that the microbiome has on brain health, including the development (or not) of depression and anxiety. The microbiome-derived short-chain fatty acid butyrate appears to be a strong anti-inflammatory compound. And postbiotics may even impact the release of satiety hormones.

It’s thought that dietary fiber and polyphenols found in colorful fruits and veggies are two big prebiotics that probiotics can feed on to produce more postbiotics. Got that straight?

See also: The Food-Inflammation Connection

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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