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“Postbiotics”; a New Term for Some of the Benefits of a Healthy and Functional Microbiome      

Dr. Al Townshend

Prebiotics and probiotics are well known by many as integral components of a healthy digestive tract and immune system. They are two of the three key factors that comprise the functional digestive microbiome. 



Probiotics are the good bacteria that improve digestion and enhance the body’s immune system.

  • They aid in the breakdown and absorption of protein, fat, and carbohydrates
  • Optimum levels of healthy probiotics can over-grow and push out harmful bacteria such as E coli and Salmonella.
  • Probiotics produce nutrients that can be utilized by the host.



Prebiotics are specific food sources that nourish the good bacteria and assure their ability to function. 

  • Some of the best foods for probiotics are classified as soluble fibers. Fiber, and in this case, soluble fiber is not digestible by the pet or by humans; however, it can be broken down and utilized by organisms that are capable of fermentation. Probiotic organisms’ breakdown and digest their nutrients through fermentation while many bad bacteria are not capable of fermentation and therefore get no benefit from prebiotics.
  • Chicory root extract, inulin, beet pulp, tomato pomace, fructooligosaccharides (FOS), and oligosaccharides are common prebiotics used in pet foods. 


Where Do Postbiotics Fit Into the Healthy Microbiome?

Earlier, it was mentioned, “Probiotics produce nutrients that can be utilized by the host”.

Postbiotics are those nutritional by-products of the fermentation process that can be utilized by their host. Examples of just some of the postbiotics include:

  • Short-chain fatty acids which supply the energy necessary to the cells of the large intestines and reduce inflammation.
  • Antibacterial peptides help to slow down the growth and kill some harmful bacteria.
  • Vitamins produced by the good bacteria include the B vitamins, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and biotin, along with vitamin K.
  • Antioxidants help protect the host.

Supporting the digestive microbiome by supplementing with probiotics and feeding recipes that contain prebiotics is the best way to encourage optimum postbiotic production.

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