Everyone knows what probiotics are – live beneficial bacteria or yeasts that naturally live in your body that when taken orally provide a health benefit. Probiotics are made up of good bacteria that help keep your body healthy and working well. Consumers have been using probiotics for many years. In more recent years, prebiotics – which are consumed to feed the endogenous bacteria (your microbiome) as well as the exogenous bacteria (the probiotics) –have been developed. Think of prebiotics as a food source for probiotics, helping to boost the growth of helpful bacteria in the gut.

The composition of the microbiome is a primary factor of gut health. If we can use prebiotics to tilt the balance of the microbiome to support the growth of good bacteria, such as lactobacilli and bifidobacteria, and away from the bad bacteria, such as e. coli and clostridium, then we can positively influence the microbiota and affect health and wellness.

In recent years, the mechanisms of action have begun to be elucidated. Short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which are metabolites of the bacteria in the microbiome (also called postbiotics), are known to play important roles in the health of the gut and the overall body. In particular, the SCFA butyrate seems to be the most important one, being a signaling molecule that has receptors in nearly all cells.

Then the research pivots towards – can we develop prebiotic compositions which selectively feed the microbiome, to enhance the production of butyrate in the gut? A lot of research has gone in this direction, and variations and combinations of prebiotics are used to try to do this.
There is, however, a stumbling block. People tend to react differently to prebiotics and probiotics. Your microbiome can depend on a variety of factors, including genetics, your diet, your overall health, disease, stress, and environmental factors. Your microbiome can vary considerably from your neighbor’s and can even vary day to day. This leads to the conundrum we face with developing new prebiotic formulas – they work better on some people and worse on others. Some people are responders and some are non-responders. Some people effectively utilize prebiotics to generate postbiotics like butyrate, while others don’t. This is not a very good situation for supplements to be in.

Is there another solution? Yes! New innovation in direct butyrate generators is helping to solve this challenge. Using an ingredient that generates butyrate directly bypasses the complex process of providing prebiotics to the bacteria in the microbiome, which then generates butyrate. Direct butyrate generators are the next generation of prebiotics, they generate postbiotic butyrate independently of the state of the microbiome allowing everyone to benefit, unlike traditional prebiotics. Ready to take the guesswork out of your digestive health formula? Find out more from NutriScience – your source of innovation.


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