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The Importance of Supernatant - Postbiotics - to Health

When scientists argue in minute details about a definition, we know that the substance in question is extremely important. 

A very large group of scientists (Aguilar-Toalá et al., 2021) are arguing against well published and important group of scientists (Salminen et al., 2021) for changing the definition of Postbiotics. 

Why is this important to us and our health? 

Simple: when we know and agree on the definition - it is much easier to globally study that subject. 

But what happens when in mid-stream, the definition changes? Scientists better be ready to fully explain the reason of that change!  

There is a large body of evidence now, 2-3 decades in the making, that supernatant which is the soup-excretion that probiotics make as they grow has many health giving benefits. Changing one aspect of this definition will change many of the research studies. 

The main question a large group of scientists are arguing about:  What goes into postbiotics? If it is only the soup of metabolites (excretion) of the growing probiotics -  we know exactly what the soup contains. The name Supernatant is the name of that soup. We also call it postbiotics because it is what comes after probiotics grow. Simple isn't it? 

However,  Salminen et al., 2021 has added also de-activated probiotics (treated with heat, and shown in research to stimulate the immune system), which of course changed the definition thoroughly. Now it is not just an organic, natural excretion but a made up substances - a mixture that scientists are creating. 

The original definition in 2013, by two scientists, Tsilingiri, & Rescigno, is very short and elegant: “any factor resulting from the metabolic activity of a probiotic or any released molecule capable of conferring beneficial effects to the host in a direct or indirect way.”  - no addition of anything except the natural process of probiotics.

 And what is Salminen et al., 2021 reply? That postbiotic is "after life" and not "from life" - and insist that adding inactivated cells of probiotics is 'evolution in science'. 

Who will win in this battle of definition? Only time will tell as the politics within the scientific community is quite intense! 

The good news is that Supernatant as part of the postbiotics world is gaining more recognition and more research and that is great for all of us!


We appreciate the intent by Salminen et al. to clarify and reorganize the nomenclature regarding the use of inactivated bacteria and their products as health-promoting factors ... Nonetheless, we found several major caveats in the consensus statement that might generate ambiguity.

Salminen et al. redefined the term postbiotic, including also inactivated microorganisms, stating that “the term ‘postbiotics’ … is inconsistently used and lacks a clear definition”. However, the definition of postbiotic was explicitly enunciated in 2013 as “any factor resulting from the metabolic activity of a probiotic or any released molecule capable of conferring beneficial effects to the host in a direct or indirect way”, in agreement with other proposed definitions Despite being true that the term is increasingly found in the scientific literature and on commercial products, it is most largely used in accordance with the original definition, and not according to the new meaning proposed by the ISAPP. When we searched PubMed using the term ‘postbiotics’, we found 220 pertinent publications (113 review and 107 research articles; search performed 7 Jun 2021). In only 14% of these papers (including work by some of the consensus authors) did postbiotic encompass inactivated bacteria. Keep-Reading


A fresh batch of the famous Supernatant is back on our shelves! 




  • Aguilar-Toalá, J. E., Arioli, S., Behare, P., Belzer, C., Berni Canani, R., Chatel, J. M., ... & Zhou, Z. (2021). Postbiotics—When simplification fails to clarify. Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology18(11), 825-826. Correspondence
  • Salminen, S., & Szajewska, H. (2022). Postbiotics. In Textbook of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (pp. 733-736). Springer, Cham. Abstract
  • Salminen, S., Collado, M. C., Endo, A., Hill, C., Lebeer, S., Quigley, E. M., ... & Vinderola, G. (2021). Reply to: Postbiotics—When simplification fails to clarify. Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology, 18(11), 827-828.
  • Tsilingiri, K., & Rescigno, M. (2013). Postbiotics: what else?. Beneficial microbes4(1), 101-107. Abstract

Sincerely yours,


We have developed our products based on scientific research and/or the practical experience of many healthcare practitioners. There is a growing body of literature on food based nutrition and supplements and their application in support of our health. Please use our products under the advisement of your doctor.

Green Facts:

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Moradi, M., Molaei, R., & Guimarães, J. T. (2021). A review on preparation and chemical analysis of postbiotics from lactic acid bacteria. Enzyme and Microbial Technology143, 109722. Article

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