Prebiotics fiber: Allies in children’s gut health

Study supports the use of prebiotics in children following infancy to recover microbiota flora faster after antibiotics use. 

Young children are traditionally exposed to a much wider range of foreign microbes that constantly challenge their immune systems. 

With this in mind, the research published in 2018, carried out by Lohner et al´s. and Soldi et al´s adds insight into the gut health of young children and the role that prebiotics can play in promoting microbiota balance and subsequent health. 

The research, aimed to explore if the strengthening of the natural defense system continued in children aged 3 to 6 years old, as demonstrated in previous studies on infants. 

It was based around the premise that young children are particularly susceptible to infectious diseases during the winter months and often need to be treated with antibiotics, which are known to damage the microbiota significantly, that may affect health overall. 

The investigation into the effect of prebiotic supplementation on the gut microbiota composition of young children included those undertaking antibiotic treatments. 

The Prebiotics Study 

The study examined the supplementation of 6 g fiber, using maltodextrin as the control, among 258 healthy children aged three to six years. The study conducted over a 24 week period during the winter with a double- blind, placebo-controlled design, demonstrated various health benefits among the children. These included improved gut microbiota composition, softer stools in a normal range and fewer incidences of infections in the group. 

The findings showed that regular consumption of prebiotic fiber kept the level of beneficial Bifidobacteria higher and more stable, reducing the antibiotic- induced disturbances of the microbiota composition. In general, the children undergoing antibiotic treatment showed a reduction of microbiota, including Bifidobacteria. However, those children also receiving the prebiotic supplementation demonstrated a significantly higher presence of Bifidobacteria versus the controls. 

The results show that by supplementing a young child’s diet with just 6 grams of prebiotic fiber a day, a balanced and healthy microbiota can be supported at a pivotal time in gut health and overall well-being continues to grow.
With all this in mind, experts at the Beneo Technology Center have been working on recipe concepts to help food manufacturers create appealing added fiber snacks and drinks for young and old alike. These include high fiber examples such as breakfast biscuits, rice chocolate drinks, chocolate chip cookies, yogurts and even gummy bear sweets.

As research continues to show the importance of ensuring the balanced gut microbiota composition of pre-school, nursery-aged children and those at school, demand is growing for respective products for this age range. Thanks to functional ingredients such as the prebiotic fibers, food manufacturers now have the opportunity to help parents promote microbiota balance in their children, using a range of products that not only look good, but taste good too.  

Summary from informative article from The World of food ingredients, December 2019. 


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