Biohacking Your Microbiome:
The Critical Role of Postbiotic Metabolites

By Ross Pelton, RPh, PhD, CCN
Scientific Director, Essential Formulas


Biohacking, which is also called do-it-yourself biology or DIY biology, is a term that refers to utilizing cutting edge science, products, and technologies that enable an individual to optimize their biology.

Over the past two decades, an exponential explosion of research into the human microbiome’s invisible world has confirmed that the human gut microbiome is a critical regulator of many aspects of human biology and overall health. Dysregulation of the composition and function of the gut microbiome is associated with numerous chronic diseases. However, biohacking your way to a healthier microbiome can result in better health and increased longevity.

The Genome Complexity Conundrum

When scientists successfully sequenced the human genome, they discovered that humans have about 23,000 genes. However, the common rice plant (Oryza sativa) has about 45,000 genes. This led scientists to scratch their heads and think, “If we humans are as complex and evolved as we think we are, how can we function with only half as many genes as the common rice plant”? This puzzle became known as the Genome Complexity Conundrum.i

The answer to the puzzle began to emerge when scientists discovered that most humans’ intestinal tract is home to an estimated 100 trillion bacteria. Humans have from 500-1,000 different intestinal bacteria species, and these bacteria are estimated to contain over nine million non-repeating genes.ii Therefore, your intestinal bacteria contain approximately 400 times more genes than the number of genes in our human DNA, which means that over 99.9% of the DNA in your body is the DNA of your bacteria.

Humans can “get by” with only 23,000 genes because bacteria, with the DNA in their millions of genes, direct and regulate a great deal of human functioning. This explains why people must learn how to create and maintain a healthy microbiome. Your bacteria are involved, either directly or indirectly, in the regulation and control the majority of happens in your body. This realization has also resulted in a new understanding of what it means to be human. We are not just the product of our human genes. Instead, we are a bacteria-controlled Superorganism. We are not just “us,” we are “us” plus “them.”

Postbiotic Metabolites: The New Frontier in Microbiome Science

To biohack your microbiome, it’s critical to understand how probiotics and your gastrointestinal ecosystem function. For decades, we have known that probiotic bacteria play essential roles in the regulation of health. However, until recently, the mechanisms that explain how probiotic bacteria regulate so many aspects of human health have remained elusive.

Dietary fiber is the primary “food” for your probiotic bacteria. Recently, scientists have discovered that the primary “job” of probiotic bacteria is to ferment dietary, which results in the production of health-regulating compounds referred to as “postbiotic metabolites.” Various classes of postbiotic metabolites provide health benefits such as reducing inflammation, directly killing pathogens, reestablishing optimal acid/base balance, regulating digestion and absorption, improving gut-brain communication, synthesizing vitamins and amino acids and enhancing immune function.iii

The FIBER GAP: America’s #1 Nutritional Deficiency

Early humans consumed approximately 100 grams of fiber dailyiv whereas the average American only consumes about 15 grams of fiber daily.v Studies have reported that 90% of children and adults in America DO NOT consume the recommended amount of daily dietary fiber.vi Consequently, millions of people who take probiotics get minimal benefit from them because they do not consume a diverse range of fiber-rich foods. If you don’t learn how to feed your probiotic bacteria well, they will not thrive and survive.

Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics®: A Fermented Food Probiotic

Fermented foods contain various species of live bacteria and bioactive metabolites, which provide health benefits to consumers. Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics is a product that is produced in a unique 3-year fermentation production process. A wide range of organically grown fiber-rich foods is added to large fermentation vats and twelve starter strains of probiotic bacteria. During the fermentation process, the probiotic bacteria convert the food fibers into a wide range of postbiotic metabolites. At the end of three years, Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics contain live probiotic bacteria, prebiotics, and over 500 bioactive, health-promoting postbiotic metabolites.

Most commercial probiotics contain bacteria, but to be effective, those bacteria must survive transit through the harsh acidic environment in the stomach. When they arrive in the small intestine, they must locate fiber-rich foods and begin the process of converting dietary fibers into postbiotic metabolites. This process takes time, and as mentioned above, most people are not consuming diverse, fiber-rich diets.

Directly ingesting postbiotic metabolites is a fast and effective way to biohack your microbiome and elicit improvements in the gastrointestinal ecosystem compared to just ingesting strains of probiotic bacteria. Postbiotic metabolites are a fascinating new frontier in microbiome science that will likely have a significant impact on both health and medicine. Dr. Ohhira’s Probiotics are the world leader in supplying postbiotic metabolites, which work to maintain a healthy microbiome and promote overall health.

 


i Galland L. The Gut Microbiome and the Brain.J Med Food. 2014 Dec 1;17(12): 1261-1272.
ii Yang X, et al. More than 9,000,000 unique genes in the human gut bacterial community: estimating gene numbers inside the human body. PLoS One. 2009 Jun 29;4(6):e6074.
iii Pelton R. Postbiotic Metabolites: The New Frontier in Microbiome Science. Townsend Letter. June 2019;431:64-69.
iv Eaton SB, et al. Paleolithic nutrition revisited: A twelve-year retrospective on its nature and implications. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 1997;51:207-216.
v Bodner J.M., Sieg J. (2009) Fiber. In: Tarté R. (eds) Ingredients in Meat Products. Springer, New York, NY.
vi Clemens R. et al. Filling America’s Fiber Intake Gap: Summary of a Roundtable to Probe Realistic Solutions with a Focus on Grain-Based Foods. Journal of Nutrition. 2012 July; 142(7): 1390S-1401S.