After the covid pandemic, interest in immune health has been higher than ever. No one enjoys getting sick, so how can we optimise our immune health? Well, evidence shows that improving our gut health is a really good place to start. Let’s look at the role our gut health plays in our immune health, what postbiotics are and how they can help!
What is the gut-immune health connection?
The evidence is increasingly showing the influence our gut health has on our overall health. Our gut microbiota is a collection of mostly bacteria that live in our gut and provide us with various health benefits, including immune health. Research has found the gut microbiota plays a role in regulating immune homeostasis (keeping our immune system harmonious and balanced). Disruption to our gut microbiome, known as dysbiosis, has been associated with chronic inflammation and has been found to cause immune dysregulation, which can lead to the development of autoimmune conditions such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD).
The good news? We can improve the balance of bacteria in our gut microbiome through dietary strategies, which can support your immune health as a result. One of the strategies we can utilise to optimise our gut microbiome and immune health is postbiotics.
What are postbiotics?
You may have heard the terms prebiotics and postbiotics used when it comes to gut health, but may be unfamiliar with postbiotics. Let’s go through some definitions of each below:
- Prebiotics – act as a fuel source for our gut bacteria, think of these as fertiliser
- Probiotics – bacteria which live in our gut, think of these as the plant
- Postbiotics – the bioactive compounds produced by the probiotics after they consume prebiotics, think of these as the beautiful flowers on the plant
So, essentially, postbiotics are the beneficial byproducts produced by probiotics, after we consume prebiotics. Many of the health benefits that occur from the consumption of prebiotics and probiotics are actually a result of the postbiotics produced. There are various types of postbiotics including short-chain fatty acids (such as butyrate), enzymes, vitamins and amino acids.
How can postbiotics help with immune health?
Postbiotics have properties that help to strengthen your immune health. Research has found they can regulate production of T Cells and cytokines, which help to reduce inflammation and promote the immune response. Studies have also shown that postbiotic supplementation can reduce the risk of respiratory infection and protect against the common cold. They’ve also been shown to have gut-health benefits including improved management of diarrhoea and improved symptoms of IBD.
Where to source postbiotics
As mentioned earlier, postbiotics are produced naturally when our gut bacteria thrive off prebiotic fibre such as wholegrains, onion, garlic, legumes, nuts, seeds fruits and vegetables. Additionally, including a postbiotic supplement such as Meluka's P3 Gut Builder can be beneficial to support both gut health and immune health. Enjoy it as a delicious shot, mix it with sparkling with for a refreshing drink or add to hot water for a warming winter beverage!
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