Health

Prof. Dr. Antonija Verhaz reveals the secrets of gut health: Postbiotics as key allies

Prof. Dr. Antonija Verhaz reveals the secrets of gut health: Postbiotics as key allies

Takeaways

  • It is important to understand that prevention is always better than treatment, and maintaining the health of the gut microbiome is essential for the body's overall immune response.
  • The rational use of antibiotics, as well as the integration of traditional food supplements and innovative products such as postbiotics into the daily routine, represent the responsibility of each individual towards their own health and long-term well-being.

On the occasion of the recently commemorated World Antimicrobial Resistance Awareness Week, we had the honor to speak with prof. Dr. Antonija Verhaz, a distinguished infectious disease specialist. The focus of the conversation was on key issues related to the broad topic of antibiotic use, the challenge of antimicrobial resistance, the necessity of protecting the gut microbiota, prevention, and the ever-present interest in postbiotics - biologically active substances that show promising potential for improving the general health of the organism. In this diverse range of topics, our special attention was drawn to the understanding and application of postbiotics, which explores the path to a holistic approach to health, which includes all levels of the organism - from understanding the role of the intestinal microbiome to the general state of health of the individual.

How would you explain the importance of awareness of antimicrobial resistance and the challenges this phenomenon presents to public health?

“World Antimicrobial Resistance Awareness Week, which is celebrated every year at the end of November, but which is always a current topic, provides an excellent opportunity to highlight the seriousness of the problem of antibiotic resistance. Antibiotics are important in the treatment of bacterial infections, but their irrational use, especially in the last decade, has affected the growing problem of antimicrobial resistance of bacteria, which makes treatment more difficult and increases the risk of serious health complications. One of the common misconceptions is that antibiotics can cure everything, including viral infections. It is important to remember that antibiotics are only effective against bacterial infections, and that when using them, it is necessary to follow the prescribed therapy to the end, as recommended by the doctor. I hereby appeal to the importance of the correct use of antibiotics and dosage of therapy as recommended by experts. Self-administration of antibiotics or stopping the therapy "in half" can be very dangerous.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is the ability of microorganisms to develop resistance to antimicrobial drugs that have been used to treat infections caused by such microorganisms. Due to the development of AMR, expensive, less available, often economically unsustainable drugs must be used in treatment, and sometimes there is no therapeutic solution due to the appearance of bacteria resistant to all existing antibiotics.

The challenges presented by this phenomenon are very serious and I believe that they can only be overcome with this type of action - prevention, conversations, education, mutual support.”

How does the irrational use of antibiotics affect the intestinal microbiome and what is the connection between the general health of the individual and the health of the gut microbiota?

“Irrational use of antibiotics can have a serious impact on the intestinal microbiome.

Antibiotics, in addition to being useful, unfortunately also have their unwanted effects. They are not selective to distinguish good from bad bacteria, so they also destroy probiotic bacteria that are normal inhabitants of our intestines. This imbalance can lead to a disruption of the gut microbiome, which has further health consequences. The gut microbiome plays a key role in digestion, absorption of nutrients, regulation of the immune system, and even the production of neurotransmitters that affect our mental health.

The general state of health of a person is deeply connected with the health of the intestinal microflora. A healthy intestinal microbiome supports efficient digestion, absorption of nutrients and the production of substances that preserve the integrity of the intestinal wall. In addition, considering the important role of the intestine in the immune system, the preservation of healthy microflora directly affects the body's ability to resist infections and diseases. Therefore, establishing the balance of the intestinal microbiome becomes a key strategy in maintaining the general health of an individual and a topic that should be discussed especially and often.”

How can an individual independently contribute to the preservation of the intestinal microbiome, especially in the context of preserving the balance after the use of antibiotics?

“During and after the end of antibiotic therapy, it is important to actively work on restoring healthy intestinal microflora. Along with following advice on proper nutrition, intake of fiber and fermented foods, starting supplementation with probiotics, prebiotics and the latest generation - postbiotics, can be a step in the right direction. Postbiotics, as products of the metabolism of microorganisms, support intestinal health and play a key role in the restoration and preservation of the intestinal microflora. In addition, this is also a step towards the prevention of microbiome disorders and the preservation of general health.”

Can you explain to us the difference between probiotics, prebiotics and postbiotics, and whether these preparations can be used without a doctor's prescription, given that we are aware of the fact that antibiotics can only be obtained with a doctor's prescription?

“In today's age, understanding the complexity of the intestinal microflora is becoming essential for maintaining health and preventing numerous diseases. The key terms that play an important role in this context are probiotics, prebiotics and postbiotics, each with its own unique characteristics and contributions to maintaining the balance in the intestines.

Probiotics are defined as live microorganisms that provide health benefits to the host, they have become a researched and popular topic in the field of health. Their contribution to the preservation of healthy intestinal microflora not only includes strengthening the immune system, but also improving digestion. Contrary to probiotics, prebiotics are food ingredients that do not contain live bacteria, but instead encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestines. These specific substances provide food for probiotics and other beneficial microorganisms, supporting their vitality.

Postbiotics, the newest player in this field, are metabolites of microorganisms or substances derived from them that provide health benefits. These products of metabolism, such as enzymes, peptides and organic acids, can have different bioactivities such as antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, which can provide different effects on improving health, promoting the immune system, balancing the microbiome, improving the function of the gastrointestinal tract, etc. dietary supplements, these products are recommended for daily use and can be used without a prescription. Recently, the first postbiotic called Vitabiotik has been available in pharmacies.

Vitabiotik is a supplement designed to improve gut health with postbiotics - thermally processed probiotic cells and a mixture of vitamins D, B and C. It contains 100 billion cells of the Lactobacillus plantarum LP1 bacteria. Thanks to this, Vitabiotik fights pathogenic bacteria and harmful toxins much faster.”

Finally,in the context of the previous conversation, can you point out the key steps that each of us can take to improve and preserve our health?

“Education is key, and it is the task of all of us. Citizens should be informed about the proper use of antibiotics, the importance of healthy intestinal microflora, a healthier lifestyle, the use of nutritional supplements, and the benefits of postbiotics. Maintaining health requires a holistic approach that includes a balanced diet, regular physical activity and promoting emotional well-being. It is important to understand that prevention is always better than treatment, and maintaining the health of the gut microbiome is essential for the body's overall immune response.

The rational use of antibiotics, as well as the integration of traditional food supplements and innovative products such as postbiotics into the daily routine, represent the responsibility of each individual towards their own health and long-term well-being.”

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