Postbiotics: More Science of the Gut-Brain Axis

Postbiotics: More Science of the Gut-Brain Axis

Postbiotics may be a new tool in the quest for optimal gut (gastrointestinal system) health. 

Science has confirmed that there is a very prominent link between your gut and your brain when it comes to fighting disease and maintaining systemic health. Labeled the gut-brain axis, this connection is much more important than originally considered. 

According to the conclusion of a study published in the Annals of Gastroenterology,

“Strong evidence suggests that gut microbiota [community of essential microorganisms aka microbiome] has an important role in bidirectional interactions between the gut and the nervous system. It interacts with CNS [central nervous system] by regulating brain chemistry and influencing neuro-endocrine systems associated with stress response, anxiety and memory function.” 

There are a vast amount of ways to keep your gut balanced (we need good and bad bacteria to 

remain in equilibrium). Postbiotics offer a ‘full circle’ approach to sustainable health through the

science of the gut-brain axis


Probiotics are described as “good” live bacteria and yeasts that keep your body running on all cylinders. An imbalance in the microbiome, even of the slightest degree, could throw off your probiotic production and result in various health compromises such as diarrhea and skin outbreaks.  

Probiotic foods and supplements have risen in popularity over the last several decades with people using them to balance gut functioning for optimal health, particularly after taking antibiotics. Some of the best foods that are transformed into probiotics include:

  • Sauerkraut
  • Pickles
  • Yogurt
  • Tempeh
  • Miso
  • Kombucha
  • Gouda, mozzarella, cheddar and cottage cheese 


After science studied the effects of probiotics, it was realized that there are foods which encourage probiotic production called prebiotics. Prebiotics are the “seeds” that sprout probiotics. Foods strong in prebiotic development include: 

  • Garlic
  • Asparagus
  • Jerusalem artichokes
  • Bananas
  • Flaxseeds
  • Wheat bran
  • Seaweed


Recent research shows the benefits of postbiotics and considers these an important part of the probiotic and prebiotic gut-brain axis. Although science has known about postbiotics for a long time, it is only now that this word has become more applicable and is currently being considered for a formal definition. 

In the meantime, the technical definition of postbiotics is reported in the study, ‘Postbiotics and their Potential Applications in Early Life Nutrition and Beyond’ published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences which states,

“Postbiotics are functional bioactive compounds, generated in a matrix during fermentation, which may be used to promote health. The term postbiotics can be regarded as an umbrella term for all synonyms and related terms of these microbial fermentation components. Therefore, postbiotics can include many different constituents including metabolites, short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), microbial cell fractions, functional proteins, extracellular polysaccharides (EPS), cell lysates, teichoic acid, peptidoglycan-derived muropeptides and pili-type structures.” 

Postbiotics are also derived from not only the bi-product of probiotics but also through consuming certain foods which are identical to those found to increase probiotics such as: kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, yogurt, and certain pickles. 

According to Keri Gans, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.N., author of The Small Change Diet, the benefits of postbiotics show that,

“Scientific research has confirmed that postbiotics may help maintain a healthy immune system, support a healthy digestive system, and help balance the microbiome in our gut,” 

More Beneficial than Probiotics

As research continues regarding the varying effects of postbiotics in comparison to probiotics, there may be more advantages to utilizing postbiotics than previously thought. According to the same study mentioned above,

“Postbiotics can be an elegant and safe method to improve health as postbiotics have less challenges compared to viable probiotics in terms of storage and shelf-life. Moreover, as shown in this review, several studies show comparable results for the viable probiotic and the postbiotic product and might be a safer alternative to probiotics in immunocompromised or severely ill children. Furthermore, postbiotics and bioactive compounds may be an effective way to increase the potency of probiotics to turn them into functional ingredients or therapeutic agents.”

People may turn their noses up at the constant warnings that experts convey when it comes to various foods and beverages citing that it is unsafe to eat anything theses days. However, it really is the constant flux of scientific research that asks each of us to embrace new data which seems to emerge daily. The more we learn, the more we can increase our longevity and postbiotics is just another tool to get us there.