Why we love – prebiotics

You may have already heard about probiotics but what about prebiotics?  And you may also be wondering if your family should be consuming them?

Prebiotics are hard-to-digest food ingredients that can be metabolised by probiotics, which are the beneficial microorganisms living in your digestive tract. Think of prebiotics as food for the ‘good’ bacteria in your gut.

Most research on prebiotics has currently been focused on the nondigestible oligosaccharides, fructooligosaccharides and inulin.

Prebiotics can be found in foods such as bananas, onions, garlic, artichokes, asparagus and leeks, making them easy to incorporate into any child’s diet. As prebiotics are carbohydrates they can be easier to be cosnumed than probtioics as they are resistant to heat meaning they can be cooked or frozen without damaging their beneficial properties.

The benefits of consuming these foods are an increase in the good bacteria and restore of natural balance which is great for increased immunity as over 70% of our immunity is housed in the gut .  As well as keeping the digestive system happy by keeping stools soft and cleaning the colon, assisting the intestines, preventing and reducing the severity of diarrhea and there is a potential link between probitoics and eczema both during pregnancy and during early life.

Often when we look at first foods, we look at the composition of breast milk and what the nutritional profile is as a guide as to what infants require. Oliosaccharides are found in breast milk, which may also partly explain why breastfed babies experience fewer infections. However due to their presence in breast milk, and as they are found in vegetables prebiotic foods can be introduced to baby slowly once starting solids.  As like all foods, introduce one at a time and three days apart to ensure there are no reactions. Bananas,leeks and asparagus are good to start with as onion and garlic can cause a sore tummy in some babies and are often better introduced on a more mature gut.

 

References:

Gibson GR and Roberfroid MB. 1995. Dietary modulation of the human colonic microbiota: Introducing the concept of prebiotics. Journal of Nutrition 1401-1412.

Dethlefsen L, Huse S, Sogin M, Relman D.  The pervasive effects of an antibiotic on the human gut microbiota, as revealed by deep 16S rRNA sequencing. PLoS Biol. 2008 Nov 18;6(11)

Boehm G and Moro G. 2008. Structural and functional aspects of prebiotics used in infant nutrition. J Nutr. 138(9):1818S-1828S.

Clemente JC, Ursell LK, Parfrey LW, Knight R.  2012.  The impact of the gut microbiota on human health: an integrative review. Cell.16;148(6):1258-70

Mauri E, Arvola T, Sutas Y, Moilanen E, Salminen S. 2000.  Probiotics in the management of atopic eczema. Clin Exp Allergy. Nov;30(11)

Rautava S, Kainonen E, Salmien S, Isolauri E. 2012. Maternal probiotic supplementation during pregnancy and breast-feeding reduces the risk of eczema in the infant. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 130(6):1355-60

Reid G, Jass J, Sebulsky M, McCormick J.  2003.  Potential uses of probiotics in clinical practice.  CLin Microbiol Rev. 16(4):658-72