Anti, Post, Psycho, Pre, Syn: What are All these “Biotics” and How Do they Improve Health?

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You’ve probably seen words ending in “biotics,” and that is often associated with medicine or supplements. So what do they all mean anyway, and what’s the difference between each one? If a person decides to take one, will it improve their health or will it only put someone under the influence of a placebo?

What are the most common “biotics?”

Some common “biotics” that you would often see being talked about for whatever purpose, be it medicinal or not, would be antibiotics, postbiotics, psychobiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics. 

What is an antibiotic?

According to MedlinePlus, an antibiotic is something that most people are familiar with because it’s a type of medicine that fights off bacterial infections in both people and animals. 

Antibiotics work by ridding the body of good and bad bacteria by killing them or making it difficult for them to spread throughout the body. This type of medication is taken in various forms:

  • Orally/by mouth (pills, capsules, or liquids) 
  • Topically (cream, sprays, ointments for the skin or eye drops, eye ointment, or ear drops) 
  • Through an injection or IV (often used for more serious infecitons)

It’s important to understand that antibiotics are unable to treat viral infections. The infections that antibiotics are capable of treating are strep throat, E. coli, urinary tract infections, some sinus infections, and most ear infections. 

What is a postbiotic?

Posbiotics are the byproducts created by the body after prebiotics and probiotics have been digested. This type of biotic would include nutrients like vitamin B and K, antimicrobial peptides that slow down the growth of harmful bacteria in the body, and amino acids. 

Other postbiotic substances are also responsible for helping healthy bacteria flourish inside the body. Now, postbiotics are fairly new to the medical scene, so there’s not a lot of evidence to prove their efficacy with regards to the benefits they have for the body. 

With that said, postbiotics are linked to several health benefits, such as: 

  • Strengthening of the immune system
  • Aid in relieving digestive symptoms
  • Prevention and treatment of diarrhea
  • Reduce the severity of allergies
  • Help with weight loss 
  • Lower the risk of heart disease
  • Manage blood sugar levels
  • Have anti-tumor properties that would suppress the growth and spread of certain cancer cells

What is a psychobiotic?

Psychobiotics are live bacteria that improve one’s mental state the moment they interact with the gut microbiome. The term “gut-brain axis” was coined in reference to the interaction between the two. 

Like postbiotics, psychobiotics require much scientific study and research for them to be deemed an effective method for improving the mental state of a person. 

What is a prebiotic?

Prebiotics are plant fibers that assist the digestive system to work better. They’re also great for the gut, as they serve as a source of food for healthy bacteria there. 

When taken, prebiotics will offer health benefits such as aiding the body in absorbing more calcium, maintaining healthy cells in the lining of the gut, fermenting foods faster, which in turn prevents constipation, and changing the rate at which foods cause spikes in blood sugar. 

Prebiotics are found in several foods, like:

  • Apples
  • Artichokes 
  • Asparagus 
  • Bananas
  • Berries
  • Chicory 
  • Cocoa 
  • Dandelion greens 
  • Flaxseed 
  • Garlic 
  • Green vegetables 
  • Konjac root 
  • Leeks 
  • Legumes 
  • Oats 
  • Onions 
  • Tomatoes 
  • Soybeans 
  • Wheat 
  • Yacon root 

Probiotics can also be found in products such as baby formula, bread, cereal, cookies, and yogurt. 

What is a synbiotic? 

Sybiotics is the term used when referring to supplements that contain both prebiotics and probiotics. Subiotics are said to support gut health by increasing the growth and spread of healthy bacteria in the digestive tract. 

Numerous benefits are tied to synbiotics, some of which are:

  • Supporting digestive health 
  • Aid in weight loss
  • Strenghthen the immune system 
  • Decrease inflammation 
  • Improve one’s mental health 
  • Promotes heart health

Do “biotics“ improve a person’s health? 

In general consensus, “biotics” do improve one’s health; however, much research is required for some that fall under this category. As previously mentioned, postbiotics and psychobiotics are new to the medical field, so there hasn’t been much research done to prove their efficacy for a person’s health. 

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