The intestinal microbiota plays an important role in a wide range of functions and whole body homeostasis. Recent advances have linked microbiota dysbiosis to conditions ranging from Crohn's disease to cancer. The restoration or strengthening of the intestinal microbiota through diet-based approaches such as probiotics and prebiotics has been proposed for combating the onset or progression of these diseases. In this review, we highlight the importance of postbiotics for the manipulation of the intestinal microbiota, with special emphasis on systems biology computational tools and targeted metabolomics for the rational discovery and identification of these bioactive molecules. The identification of novel postbiotics and the pathways responsible for their production should lead to improved mechanistic understanding of the role that specific probiotics, prebiotics, and postbiotics have in restoring intestinal microbiota composition and function.
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