A vast ecosystem resides within our gastrointestinal (GI) tract–the microbiome of an average adult can weigh 3 pounds! It has an outer boundary defined by the cells of our intestine and a layer of mucus that protects these cells from the inner components of the ecosystem. This ecosystem is complex: undigested and partially digested nutrients, microorganisms (also called microbiota), important chemical molecules exclusively produced by the microbiota, such as vitamin B12, and nonfood-derived chemical molecules that we ingest, such as drugs and potential allergens in foods and drinks.
A healthy GI microbiome contains a vast diversity of living organisms. A loss in diversity in the GI microbiome is common in many disease states. Each species in the biome uses nutrients for energy in their own special way, generating unique molecules that signal a variety of messages to other systems in our bodies, including messages about the state of our appetite and digestion.
Our dietary choices provide nutrients to the GI tract that can be preferentially used by some species, providing them a competitive advantage over other GI microbiota. Unfortunately, modern Western diets frequently provide too little nutrition for some of the “beneficial” bacteria that would ordinarily be abundant. When we eat primarily simple, digestible carbohydrates (such as sweets and pizza) and too few fermentable, non-digestible carbohydrates (such as fiber-rich foods and other prebiotics), many species that would typically reside in our GI tract may wither away, resulting in a loss of microbiota diversity and domination by species with less positive health effects.
The more we nourish and nurture the microbiota in the large intestine with sufficient levels of needed nutrients, the greater the diversity of the GI microbiome. Greater dietary diversity produces more diverse microbiomes, which have been shown to be more adaptable and resilient in managing short term stresses and changes (1).
Prebiotic – Probiotic – Postbiotic
Prebiotic means “before life.” Prebiotics are “food” for microorganisms—they provide nutrients for energy and are also used as building blocks for microbiota to manufacture unique substances important to their survival (and potentially for our health). For example, Inulin is a prebiotic used by microbiota in our GI tract to manufacture important signaling molecules that participate in regulating how much we choose to eat and how we metabolize our food. Polyphenol antioxidants are prebiotics that can be used as building blocks for some GI microbiota to manufacture signaling molecules and for other microbiota to manufacture complex antibiotic substances that protect against potential pathogens in the gut.
A Probiotic is a live isolated specie of microbiota or a collection of multiple species. These are often packaged as food or as capsules containing 1 billion to 10 billion per serving. The dose of probiotics that can be delivered is very small in the context of the vast GI microbiome ecosystem and probiotics also depend on the availability of prebiotic nutrients for their survival and function. Examples of probiotics are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria.
Postbiotic is a term meaning “after life”. A postbiotic is a specific molecule manufactured by the microbiota. Some of those molecules are short chain fatty acids such as butyrate used as energy by cells of the intestine and are produced by Bifidobacteria. Molecules produced by microbiota can also serve as signals, sensed by the cells in the GI tract. In turn, these cells are stimulated to produce hormones in the gut that are active elsewhere in the central nervous system.
Penicillin is a postbiotic used as an antibiotic drug produced by the fungus Penicillium that uses nutrients (prebiotic) in bread as building blocks. In fact, most current antibiotic drugs were first discovered as postbiotics. Vitamins K, B vitamins, biotin, and even the neurotransmitter serotonin are examples of molecules produced by microbiota in our gut that offer potential health benefits if there are sufficient quantities of prebiotic nutrients to nurture them. Postbiotics can be considered the natural by-product of the GI microbiota and may emerge as therapies in the years to come.
Welcome to MBT
MicroBiome Therapeutics™ (MBT) develops and markets novel therapies that help maintain health by interacting with the gastrointestinal (GI) microbiome in specific ways. We are a leader in the development of evidence-based microbiome modulators–products designed to interact with microbial populations and their environment in the GI tract to promote healthy microbiome function.
About Microbiome Modulators
MBT’s microbiome modulators are based on the growing understanding that the composition of the large populations of bacteria and other microorganisms (collectively referred to as the microbiota) resident in the human GI tract can have a significant impact on health. MBT’s first microbiome modulator, BiomeBliss®, was designed to shift the GI microbiota and their environment in specific ways intended to achieve improved health outcomes.
A clinically-tested prebiotic blend featuring oat beta-glucan, antioxidant polyphenols, and inulin in a delicious drink mix desgined to rebalance and restore healthy populations of gut microorganisms in the gut microbiome. BiomeBliss is designed to optimize the production of short chain fatty acids by the gut microbiome.