Science and postbiotics: where do we stand?

Expert talks

Since their discovery, microorganisms have fascinated scientists due to their great diversity and ubiquitous presence in many ecosystems. One such group of microorganisms is very much in the news: the intestinal microbiota, whose imbalances have been linked to numerous health issues. However, the world of microorganisms is also the source of beneficial applications known for thousands of years in the form of fermented foods.

More recently, the biotics family has emerged, generating a significant body of scientific research in order to understand their beneficial effects. One member of this family has recently been accurately defined by the scientific community: postbiotics. So, considering contemporary developments in science and postbiotics: where do we really stand?

Postbiotics: an already well-known category

Contrary to what one might think, postbiotics are not a new category. Although not previously known by this term, fermentation products containing inanimate bacteria have been around for over 100 years.

Let’s take Adare Biome as an example. The ingredients we offer today were developed at the beginning of the 20th century by a French doctor, Dr Pierre Boucard. He developed an effective postbiotic treatment which he called Lactéol®. At the time, he noticed that products based on non-living microorganisms could have beneficial effects in treating digestive disorders such as diarrhea.

Since their creation, numerous studies have been conducted on such products to measure and understand their effects on health. The study of postbiotics is therefore not new to the scientific community.

Science and postbiotics in the spotlight

Finally, interest in ‘postbiotic’ ingredients among the scientific community has developed significantly in recent years. This growth of scientific research and interest in postbiotics is demonstrated by the notable increase in publications mentioning this term, amounting to 95 in 2020, compared to just 15 publications in 2018.[1]

Indeed, inactivated microorganisms are more stable and convenient to incorporate into finished products. This is why postbiotics have many potential applications in the food and dietary supplement market. And the link between science and postbiotics is proven. Indeed, the scientific community has demonstrated the effectiveness of this category of ingredients, particularly in the areas of digestive health and immunity.

Despite this longstanding work, it took more than a century for the scientific community to come together around the concept of postbiotics, to name it and define it more precisely.

2021 marked a real breakthrough with the publication by ISAPP (International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics) of a consensus on the definition of postbiotics.

A postbiotic is now defined as “a preparation of inanimate microorganisms and/or their components that confers a health benefit on the host“. The scientific community has also defined criteria to qualify a preparation as postbiotic.

Although postbiotics are in the spotlight today more than ever, we are indeed the pioneers of postbiotics, with a discovery dating back to the 20th century. We offer our original biotic-based treatment, Lactéol® as well as two postbiotic ingredients: LBiome™ for human and companion animal applications and LBiotix™ for the farm animal market.

Learn more about our history

Postbiotics have a bright future

Despite this growing awareness, the field of postbiotics still needs to be explored further in comparison to that of probiotics. Postbiotics therefore still have a bright future ahead of them and this recent definition gives scientists the opportunity to look further into the subject.

To enable postbiotics to become part of collective knowledge, it is also necessary to explain them. This is why we have created the website, « About postbiotics », which is intended to educate both the general public and health professionals.

It should be remembered, however, that topics related to the microbiota are still marked by recent discoveries. For example, it is only in the last ten years that the genome of the microbiota has been deciphered.[2] There are encouraging prospects for further establishing the link between science and postbiotics, in a world where the microbiota is at the heart of current trends in the nutrition markets.

[1] Salminen, S., Collado, M.C., Endo, A. et al. The International Scientific Association of Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) consensus statement on the definition and scope of postbiotics, 2021. 

[2] Publication « our other genome », 2010, published in Nature