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PRE-biotics + PRO-biotics = POST-biotics

Good health begins in the gut!  This is something fundamental that I have observed over the years in practice.  Let’s delve into the steps involved in a healthy gut microbiome.

You’re probably all familiar with PRO-biotics.  These are “good bacteria” found in fermented foods like yogurts, sauerkraut, Kimchi, kombucha, and in probiotic supplements.

PRO-biotics are just one piece of the puzzle!  They have to be fed the right PRE-biotics in order to survive and be happy in your gut.  PRE-biotics come from fiber in the diet.  It is found in fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains.  You can’t expect your PRO-biotic supplement to fix all your gut problems if you’re not feeding the PRO-biotics with good PRE-biotics (fiber from whole foods).

Did you know the most important indicator of your gut microbiome health is the POST-biotics?  Have you heard this term before?  When the bacteria in your gut (PRO-biotics) metabolize the fiber in your diet (PRE-biotics), it generates something called short-chained fatty acids (SCFA) which are POST-biotics.  The end goal is robust POST-biotics!

POST-biotics affect your overall health by reducing inflammation, improving your metabolism, and improving your immune system.  For example, patients struggling with their weight, often have depleted or low SCFA in their gut.  The same is true in patients with metabolic syndrome and insulin-resistance.

Unfortunately, extended periods of restricted diets can also deplete your POST-biotics (SCFA).  That is why we treat conditions like Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) for 4-6 weeks and then recommend gradual food reintroduction.

The shining star among POST-biotics is Butyrate.  It is a special SCFA that has important gut-healing properties.  In fact, it is the “food” for the cells lining your colon, called colonocytes.  Research shows that butyrate reduces inflammation in your gut lining, prevents leaky gut, promotes healthy gut motility, improves your metabolism, improves brain function, and even prevents colon cancer.  Fuel for butyrate production is found in dairy products like butter and ghee.  However, many people don’t tolerate dairy products.  The good news is butyrate can be taken is supplement form as well.  I’ve found a great product called Tri-Butyrate Supreme which provides butyrate in supplemental form, which is now available in our office.

How can we figure out where you stand on PRE-, PRO-, and POST-biotics?  We can get an extensive analysis of your microbiome from a comprehensive stool test through Genova Diagnostics.  Understanding your gut health is SO important to your overall health!

How can we fix a low SCFA or butyrate level?  We often provide Probiotic 225 billion CFU which also contains PRE-biotics known as larch arabinogalactans.  By giving the PRO-biotics along with the PRE-biotics, we definitely see the SCFA levels improve (POST-biotics) and patients feels significantly better.  I like to call this a “microbiome reboot.”

There are some nuances to treating the gut.  If you are suffering from excess gas and bloating, you should first be tested for Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO) since this condition should be treated first before ramping up fiber (PRE-biotics) in the diet, otherwise you may experience more discomfort.  I like to think of SIBO treatment as Phase 1 of gut healing, and then we work to improve the overall microbiome health and SCFA in Phase 2 of gut healing.

The complexity of our gut microbiome never fails to amaze me!  A single stool sample can tell us so much about your health.  Let’s talk more about your gut health at you next visit.

Wishing you all great health,

Rajsree Nambudripad, MD

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