Ever since the discovery of penicillin, we have understood the importance of chemicals produced by microbes. Today, microbiome research is one of the trending topics in science as multiple studies discover the connection between the microbes inside the human gut and the medical conditions and diseases such as heart diseases, obesity, and appetite and mood changes. Microbiota, or the collection of microbes in our bodies, are generally concentrated in the colon of our intestines.
Most traditional treatments that work through changing gut health are either labeled as probiotics or prebiotics. The former are actual live microorganisms that people consume to obtain certain benefits. The latter, on the other hand, are foods or compounds that help support the growth of particular kinds of gut bacteria. Recently, a third kind has been discovered which represents an alternative way to improve gut health: postbiotics.
Postbioitics refer to the metabolic by products of produced by the bacteria in our gut. These byproducts impact a wide range of physiological processes within our body. Postbiotics can be traced in a person’s stool as a distinctive biological fingerprint known as a fecal metabolome. An example is a compound called n-carbamyl glutamate (NCG), which is produced when omega-3 is consumed by a certain type of intestinal bacteria.
The latest research shows the relationship between the food we consume, the way it is processed by the microbes in our gut, and how we accumulate fat in our body, especially around the belly. The researchers found that the chemical activity of the microbes in our gut are controlled by genetics only by a minimal percentage (less than 20%). The rest is the product of environmental aspects, primarily our diet.
This finding significant strides in research because unlike innate risks that are influenced by genetics, the microbes in our gut can be changed through easier means. The team, for instance, mentioned that medical professionals can directly target the essential chemical compound produced by a particular type of microbe and include this specifically to the individual’s diet.
One application proposed by the researchers is the development of smart toilets or smart toilet paper which can capture the postbiotic profile of our stool and provide a better picture of our gut health and which specific compounds are being generated by our gut microbiome. This, in turn, would provide medical professionals with an enhanced ability to provide patients with dietary recommendations and changes that can be done to foster the growth of any missing bacteria.