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Postbiotics: Function & Early Life Nutrition


January 11, 2021

What are probiotics

Bacterias are quick to be assumed that it would cause harm. Often enough, they are the cause of many infections and sickness most of the time. However, bacterias that reside in our gut however, are different. They have a complex and dynamic, mutualistic relationship with the host.

Researchers found that gut microbiota (probiotics) are able to influence  physiological functions that mediate our immune systems (Honda and Littman, 2016). It was found that gut microbiota are able to influence our psychological aspect as well – which can reduce stress, anxiety, or improve mood.

What are postbiotics

As all living microorganisms, there will always be byproducts, and in our gut microbiota, it produce a wide range of compounds that can be used by hosts as well as other microorganisms inside the body, much like a terrarium (Fischbach and Segre, 2016). Those compounds produced are known as postbiotics.

They are important in shaping the synbiotic system as well as establishing a healthy gut microbiota (Sommer et al., 2017) The common postbiotics produced by bacterias are cell walls, parts of cells (polysaccharides), short-chain fatty acids (SFAs), functional proteins, cell lysates, and teichoic acids. However, different postbiotics can be produced according to the food source for the bacterias, which are also known as prebiotic and probiotic respectively. 

What affects Postbiotics

Efficacy of postbiotics are highly dependent on the microbiota’s byproducts – proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, vitamins, organic acids, cell wall components, and complex molecules (Aguilar-Toalá et al., 2018, Konstantinov, Kuipers and Peppelenbosch, 2013). Prebiotic and type of probiotic would influence the byproducts and function of postbiotics as well. 

Postbiotic can be naturally found in fermented products such as cultured milk, kimchi, in soil of crops, and fermented rice bran powder, Life Faxtor™.

Postbiotics are a relatively new and intriguing topic for researchers. Prebiotic and postbiotics already have an exhaustive amount of studies however, for postbiotics, a lot are still being conducted. Thus far, the result and observations from existing postbiotic studies are very promising. 

Postbiotics and childrens

Research 1

In a human intervention study with postbiotic in early life nutrition, 146 infants of 12 to 48 months old were recruited for a 3 month randomized, double blind, controlled trial. The intervention group was given cows milk fermented with L. paracasei CBA L74 while the placebo group were given normal cows milk with maltodextrin.

Researchers found that children from the intervention group are less likely to have infectious disease (22% less likely compared to placebo group). There are significant changes found in immune system biomarkers among the intervention group even after consuming prebiotics and probiotics. It was stipulated to be the effects of postbiotics conferring with probiotics (Corsello et al., 2017).

Research 2

In another clinical study, a variety of fermented formula milk with it’s postbiotics and prebiotics  was given to 432 infants of 12 to 48 months old for 17 weeks.

They found out that infants that were given a percentage of fermented formula milk with prebiotics experienced less infantile colic (20-25% less) accompanied by less crying frequency and duration (median of 3.38 times a day to 2.64 times a day) compared to the control group, which only consist of prebiotics (Vandenplas et al., 2017). 

Postbiotics and adults

Research 3

According to a clinical study that looked into patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), the patients were given inactivated fermented cultured beverages for a month.

The Pain scores decreased from 4.46 ± 0.15 to 2.8 ± 0.14 after treatment (p < 0.0001), as well as bloating from 4.49 ± 0.18 to 2.5 ± 0.15 (p < 0.0001). They also found significant improvement of quality of life with reduced frequency of stool per week. This reflects the activity of probiotic and postbiotic from the inactivated cultured beverage (Tarrerias et al., 2011).

Research 4

From a prospective randomized trial of 4 weeks, 137 patients with chronic diarrhea was given postbiotic of L. acidophilus LB as intervention group and live L. acidophilus LB as control group.

They found out that patients with postbiotic have have lower bowel movement with improved stool consistency and reduced abdominal pain compared to control group (XIAO et al., 2002).

Postbiotic and gut microbiota

Probiotics that exist in our gut microbiota undergo a fermentation process which produces various postbiotics compounds.  Some of the common postbiotic compounds are in the table below.


Table 1 Common postbiotic compound

As of to date, these are the common postbiotics that are proven in research. More research is required to further explore the concept of postbiotics and as a form of functional ingredient, food or as a supplement even though the positive influence of postbiotics towards gut microbiota are strong (Wegh et al., 2019).


With deeper understanding towards probiotics and its interaction with gut health and gut microbiome, we are able to establish foundations for postbiotics as well. Based on research, probiotics and postbiotic work hand in hand to produce compounds that the host can benefit in different environments and prebiotics. Hence, we formulate products that are best for your gut ! Check out our instant probiotic series here.

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Aguilar-Toalá, J., Garcia-Varela, R., Garcia, H., Mata-Haro, V., González-Córdova, A., Vallejo-Cordoba, B. and Hernández-Mendoza, A., 2018. Postbiotics: An evolving term within the functional foods field. Trends in Food Science & Technology, 75, pp.105-114.

Corsello, G., Carta, M., Marinello, R., Picca, M., De Marco, G., Micillo, M., Ferrara, D., Vigneri, P., Cecere, G., Ferri, P., Roggero, P., Bedogni, G., Mosca, F., Paparo, L., Nocerino, R. and Berni Canani, R., 2017. Preventive Effect of Cow’s Milk Fermented with Lactobacillus paracasei CBA L74 on Common Infectious Diseases in Children: A Multicenter Randomized Controlled Trial. Nutrients, 9(7), p.669.

Dobson, A., Cotter, P., Ross, R. and Hill, C., 2011. Bacteriocin Production: a Probiotic Trait?. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 78(1), pp.1-6.

Fischbach, M. and Segre, J., 2016. Signaling in Host-Associated Microbial Communities. Cell, 164(6), pp.1288-1300.

Honda, K. and Littman, D., 2016. The microbiota in adaptive immune homeostasis and disease. Nature, 535(7610), pp.75-84.

Konstantinov, S., Kuipers, E. and Peppelenbosch, M., 2013. Functional genomic analyses of the gut microbiota for CRC screening. Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology, 10(12), pp.741-745.

Kareem, K., Hooi Ling, F., Teck Chwen, L., May Foong, O. and Anjas Asmara, S., 2014. Inhibitory activity of postbiotic produced by strains of Lactobacillus plantarum using reconstituted media supplemented with inulin. Gut Pathogens, 6(1), p.23.

Sommer F, Anderson JM, Bharti R, Raes J, Rosenstiel P. The resilience of the intestinal microbiota influences health and disease. Nat Rev Microbiol. 2017 Oct;15(10):630-638. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro.2017.58. Epub 2017 Jun 19. PMID: 28626231.

Tarrerias, A., Costil, V., Vicari, F., Létard, J., Adenis-Lamarre, P., Aisène, A., Batistelli, D., Bonnaud, G., Carpentier, S., Dalbiès, P., Ecuer, S., Etienne, J., Fantoli, M., Grunberg, B., Lannoy, P., Lapuelle, J., Margulies, A., Neumeier, M., Rouillon, J., Schmets, L., Pingannaud, M., Coulom, P., Kholer, F. and Canard, J., 2011. The Effect of Inactivated Lactobacillus LB Fermented Culture Medium on Symptom Severity: Observational Investigation in 297 Patients with Diarrhea-Predominant Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Digestive Diseases, 29(6), pp.588-591.

Vandenplas, Y., Ludwig, T., Bouritius, H., Alliet, P., Forde, D., Peeters, S., Huet, F. and Hourihane, J., 2017. Randomised controlled trial demonstrates that fermented infant formula with short-chain galacto-oligosaccharides and long-chain fructo-oligosaccharides reduces the incidence of infantile colic. Acta Paediatrica, 106(7), pp.1150-1158.

Wegh, Geerlings, Knol, Roeselers and Belzer, 2019. Postbiotics and Their Potential Applications in Early Life Nutrition and Beyond. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 20(19), p.4673.

XIAO, S., ZHANG, D., LU, H., JIANG, S., LIU, H., WANG, G., XU, G., ZHANG, Z., LIN, G. and WANG, G., 2002. Multicenter randomized controlled trial of heat-killedLactobacillus acidophilusLB in patients with chronic diarrhea. Chinese Journal of Digestive Diseases, 3(4), pp.167-171.

Zeng, J., Jiang, J., Zhu, W. and Chu, Y., 2015. Heat-killed yogurt-containing lactic acid bacteria prevent cytokine-induced barrier disruption in human intestinal Caco-2 cells. Annals of Microbiology, 66(1), pp.171-178.

Melvin T

Melvin T

Graduated from UCSI University with BSc (Hons) in Nutrition with Wellness, Melvin decided to venture into research & development with past experiences in clinical setting, food service, and retail pharmacy. His goal is to formulate health products that are scientifically driven and culturally acceptable.

Furthermore, he is passionate in the science and art of preventing diseases and health education. Hence, he took the role as community nutritionist to advocate primary health care to the community.

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