Man running healthPostbiotics are a new category of biotics that have the potential to confer health benefits but, unlike probiotics, do not require living cells to induce health effects and thus are not subject to the food safety requirements that apply to live microorganisms. Postbiotics are defined as a “preparation of inanimate microorganisms and/or their components that confers a health benefit on the host”.

Postbiotic components include short-chain fatty acids, exopolysaccharides, vitamins, teichoic acids, bacteriocins, enzymes and peptides in a non-purified inactivated cell preparation. While research into postbiotics is in its infancy, there is increasing evidence that postbiotics have the potential to modulate human health. Specifically, a number of postbiotics have been shown to improve gut health by strengthening the gut barrier, reducing inflammation and promoting antimicrobial activity against gut pathogens. Additionally, research is being conducted into the potential application of postbiotics to other areas of the body, including the skin, vagina and oral cavity. The purpose of this review is to set out the current research on postbiotics, demonstrate how postbiotics are currently used in commercial products and identify a number of knowledge gaps where further research is needed to identify the potential for future applications of postbiotics.