Postbiotics for Gut Health
Do you remember learning that the liver is the most complex organ in the body? I do. It was Grade 12 biology class. For my term project, I chose the appendix and left the liver to some of the other honours nerds. It turns out that the appendix is a storehouse of beneficial bacteria. Today we know that our gut participates in more biochemical reactions than the liver! Postbiotics are the byproduct of some of these reactions.
Going back to the amazing appendix we know that it helps modulate immunity. The appendix also plays a role in developing the endocrine system as early as week 11 in utero. A fetus receives the immune system and stress response very early. The microbiome is also passed on. The appendix is no longer seen as disposable. In fact, it can be used in reconstructive surgery for urinary incontinence when needed.
Your Gut is Incredible
The bacteria in your gut trains your immune system. It prevents allergic & autoimmune responses. Absorption of specific essential nutrients like B, K, magnesium, zinc & calcium is influenced by our gut health. It regulates our metabolism, preventing insulin resistance. Our digestion is an essential part of detoxification. Removing hormones, glycosides & pharmaceuticals is increasingly important. The quality of our gut health influences our mood, inflammatory response & the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) which is a postbiotic.
What are Postbiotics?
Nearly everyone has heard of probiotics both in foods and as supplements. Prebiotics are even more important for proliferating gut flora because feeding the good guys is the best way to help them grow. Postbiotics are the byproducts of a healthy microbiome. They then help regulate the gut in these ways:
1. reducing inflammation
2. mimicking the effects of probiotics
3. killing pathogens
4. regulating hormone and insulin levels
5. increasing immunity
Sources of Postbiotics
The most researched postbiotic is a short-chain fatty acid called butyrate. There are butyrate supplements available. Foods and supplements that promote postbiotics include:
1. Enzymes like protease and saccharomyces
2. Mycelium which contains many enzymes that support bacterial growth along with antimicrobial and antiviral compounds
3. Algae like chorella and spirilina. These feed beneficial bacteria and can increase secretory IgA
4. The solid remains of grapes, olives or other fruit that contains skins, pulp, seeds and stems of the fruit
5. Fermented aloe produces beta-glucans and soothes the gut lining
6. Apple cider vinegar and coconut vinegar
7. Humic and fulvic acid. Shilajit is a source of fulvic acid, is anti-inflammatory and anti-viral
Now Your Liver
Beta-glucuronidase is an enzyme that plays a role in digestion and in phase 2 of liver detoxification. I test for it. Recently it has been elevated on several labs so I wanted to highlight it. Beta-glucoronidase helps break down complex carbohydrates and thyroid hormone. It also clears excess estrogens and environmental/chemical toxins. When it is elevated we are far less resilient. Estrogen dominance, food or chemical sensitivities and migraines can be associated with this marker. When the liver can’t detoxify properly, it becomes a burden on the whole body.
Simplifying your diet, getting the right liver support and healing your gut are the first steps. Stress management has to be a part of the plan. So does social connection, movement, expression and adequate sleep. I know it can seem like a lot. Start with one. Each small step creates momentum in the right direction. The function of the liver helps us create a vision for our life. Harness this power and your health follows.