What Are Postbiotics? How It Works to Prevent and Treat Cancer?

What are postbiotics?

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What are postbiotics? Postbiotics are a fascinating area of study in the field of gut health and microbiome research. While most people are familiar with probiotics and their benefits, postbiotics are a lesser-known component that deserves attention. In this article, we will delve into the world of postbiotics, exploring what they are, the different types, their safety to health, and how they work to prevent and treat cancer.

What are postbiotics?

What are postbiotics?

Postbiotics Definition:

Postbiotics refer to the metabolic byproducts of probiotic bacteria or the compounds released when these bacteria ferment dietary fibers. They include a wide range of substances such as short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), peptides, proteins, organic acids, and phenolic compounds. These postbiotics are produced through complex interactions between the probiotic bacteria and the carbohydrates present in the gut.

Production of Postbiotics:

Postbiotics are primarily generated through the fermentation of nondigestible dietary fibers by probiotic bacteria. These fibers, commonly found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, serve as a food source for the probiotics. During fermentation, the bacteria break down the fibers into various compounds, which then act as postbiotics. This production process, as outlined in the Postbiotics Definition, highlights the important role of probiotic bacteria in transforming dietary fibers into beneficial postbiotic substances.

Types of postbiotics

There are several types of postbiotics that contribute to the overall health benefits associated with probiotic consumption. Let’s explore some of the most prominent ones:

Short-Chain Fatty Acids (SCFAs)

SCFAs are the most extensively studied group of postbiotics. They are produced through the fermentation of dietary fibers by gut bacteria. SCFAs, such as acetate, propionate, and butyrate, provide energy to the cells lining the gut, promote gut barrier function, and possess anti-inflammatory properties.

Peptides and Proteins What are postbiotics?

Probiotic bacteria can produce peptides and proteins during the breakdown of proteins present in the diet. These bioactive compounds have been shown to have antimicrobial, immunomodulatory, and antioxidant effects, contributing to overall health.


Bacteriocins are proteinaceous compounds produced by certain probiotic bacteria. They exhibit antimicrobial properties, targeting harmful bacteria while sparing beneficial ones. Bacteriocins play a crucial role in maintaining a balanced gut microbiota.

Organic Acids

Organic acids, such as lactic acid, are byproducts of carbohydrate fermentation. They create an acidic environment in the gut, which helps inhibit the growth of pathogens. Organic acids also contribute to maintaining the pH balance in the gut.


Polyols, including mannitol and sorbitol, are sugar alcohols produced by probiotic bacteria during fermentation. These compounds have been associated with various health benefits, including improved gut barrier function and reduced inflammation.

Phenolic Compounds

Phenolic compounds are a diverse group of postbiotics that possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They are found in various plant-based foods and have been linked to numerous health benefits, including cardiovascular health and cancer prevention.

Safety of postbiotics to health

Before considering any dietary intervention, it is important to assess its safety. Postbiotics, being natural metabolites of probiotics, are generally regarded as safe. However, certain factors need to be considered.

Regulatory Considerations

What are postbiotics?

In different countries, postbiotics may fall under different regulatory categories. In some regions, they may be classified as food ingredients, dietary supplements, or even pharmaceuticals. It is essential to adhere to local regulations and consult with healthcare professionals when incorporating postbiotics into your health regimen.

Potential Side Effects

Although postbiotics are generally well-tolerated, some individuals may experience mild digestive discomfort when first introducing them into their diet. It is advisable to start with small amounts and gradually increase consumption to allow the gut microbiota to adjust.

Postbiotics: How They Work to Prevent and Treat Cancer

What are postbiotics?

Emerging evidence suggests that postbiotics have promising potential in cancer prevention and treatment. Here are some mechanisms through which postbiotics exert their anticancer effects:

Anti-inflammatory Effects

Postbiotics, particularly SCFAs, have been shown to modulate the inflammatory response in the gut. Chronic inflammation can promote the development of cancer, and by reducing inflammation, postbiotics may help prevent its occurrence.

Immune Modulation

Postbiotics can influence the immune system by enhancing the activity of immune cells and promoting a balanced immune response. This immune modulation can help in the recognition and elimination of cancer cells.

Apoptosis Induction

Apoptosis, or programmed cell death, is a natural process that eliminates damaged or abnormal cells. Postbiotics have been found to induce apoptosis in cancer cells, potentially inhibiting their growth and spread.

Inhibition of Tumor Growth

Certain postbiotics, such as phenolic compounds, have demonstrated the ability to inhibit the growth of tumors. They can interfere with various signaling pathways involved in tumor development and progression.


Postbiotics are an exciting area of research that explores the metabolic byproducts of probiotic bacteria. These compounds offer a wide range of health benefits, including anti-inflammatory effects, immune modulation, and potential anticancer properties. Incorporating postbiotics into our diet may contribute to improved gut health and overall well-being. As with any dietary modification, it is advisable to consult with healthcare professionals before making significant changes.

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