Save 15% + FREE shipping when you Subscribe & Save. SHOP NOW

How to Help Constipated Kids with Prebiotics

Published December 21, 2023

share this article

Constipation is a globally prevalent gastrointestinal disorder. The prevalence of constipation in kids has been reported to account for up to 29% of doctor’s visits [1]. We know that a high fiber diet and hydration can help with relief from constipation symptoms in kids, but oftentimes total relief will require a multifaceted approach [2]. One additional step parents can take to set their kiddo’s gut health up for life is to introduce a daily prebiotic. Let's review the science behind prebiotics and how it may help with your constipated kiddo.

Prebiotics and Their Role in Digestive Health

Prebiotics are non-digestible fibers that serve as nutrients for the good gut bacteria in the microbiome. The presence of prebiotics helps friendly gut bacteria grow to create a balanced environment for the gut. A balanced gut microbiome is important for healthy digestion and regularity [1]. Prebiotics play a crucial role in fostering a balanced and diverse gut microbiota, which contributes to overall digestive wellness.

Studies shown that prebiotics specifically can boost the overall amount of bifidiobacteria, whic helps strengthen the gut and regulate the microbiome [2]. Not only dooes this help with gut function, but it helps create a stronger foundation for the immune system as well, since up to 80% of immune cells live in the gut [3].

Begin Health Expert Tip: For more information regarding why bifidobacteria is important for gut health, check out this blog by one of our Pediatric Experts: Why a Pediatric Doctor Reccomends Bifidobacteria for Infant Gut Health.

Benefits of Prebiotics for Constipated Kids

For constipated kids, common struggles can include hard stools and irregularity. Studies have found that daily consumption of prebiotics, specifically prebiotics from chicory root fiber, can help with:

  • Increased Stool Frequency. Prebiotics may help with regularity through improving gut transit time, potentially helping constipated kids with increased bowel movements [4].

  • Softening Stools. Prebiotics can contribute to softer stools by increasing the water content in the intestines, making them easier to pass and reducing discomfort associated with constipation [4].

Incorporating Prebiotics into Your Kid’s Diet

There are a variety of ways to incorporate prebiotics into your kid’s diets for constipation support:

  • Natural Sources of Prebiotics. Foods like apples, bananas, and carrots are natural sources of prebiotics that can be easily incorporated into your little one’s diet. For more ideas on prebiotic foods for kids, check out our blog Top 5 Sources of Prebiotic Fiber for Kids.

  • Prebiotic Supplements for Kids. Parents should consider foods first for kiddos to get their nutrients, but in some cases, adding prebiotic supplements formulated specifically for kids might offer a more convenient way to ensure an adequate intake of these beneficial fibers. Begin Health’s Growing Up Prebiotics conveniently bridges the fiber gap for little ones (especially pickier eaters) who need additional support getting in gut-boosting fiber. Every serving provides 3g of daily fiber which can help with regularity and softer poops within six weeks of use [4].

Begin Health Expert Tip: When it comes to supplements for kids, it’s critical to choose ones that are third-party tested to ensure that it’s safe for our little ones to use. Read more here about how Begin Health third-party tests every batch of Growing Up Prebiotics to ensure quality and safety everytime.

Importance of a Multifaceted Approach

  • Balanced Nutrition. Encouraging a well-rounded diet rich in fiber, fruits, vegetables, and prebiotic fibers can supports overall digestive health and prevent constipation in kids.

  • Hydration and Physical Activity. Optimal hydration and regular physical activity complement prebiotic intake in promoting healthy bowel movements and digestive comfort in kids [5].

Summary: Prebiotics are naturally occurring fibers found in apples, bananas, and carrots. Introducing prebiotics, specifically from chicory root fiber, into your constipated kid’s diet can help with regularity and softer stools. Studies found that with daily use, kiddos can find relief through more frequent and less painful poops within six weeks [4]. It’s essential to approach constipation management in kids with a multifaceted approach. Encouraging a diverse diet, adequate hydration, and an active lifestyle along with a daily prebiotic intake plan helps build a more comprehensive strategy for relief management your constipated kids.

References:

[1] Oniszczuk A, Oniszczuk T, Gancarz M, Szymańska J. Role of Gut Microbiota, Probiotics and Prebiotics in the Cardiovascular Diseases. Molecules. 2021 Feb 22;26(4):1172. doi: 10.3390/molecules26041172. PMID: 33671813; PMCID: PMC7926819.

[2] Stuivenberg GA, Burton JP, Bron PA, Reid G. Why Are Bifidobacteria Important for Infants? Microorganisms. 2022 Jan 25;10(2):278. doi: 10.3390/microorganisms10020278. PMID: 35208736; PMCID: PMC8880231.

[3] Wiertsema SP, van Bergenhenegouwen J, Garssen J, Knippels LMJ. The Interplay between the Gut Microbiome and the Immune System in the Context of Infectious Diseases throughout Life and the Role of Nutrition in Optimizing Treatment Strategies. Nutrients. 2021 Mar 9;13(3):886. doi: 10.3390/nu13030886. PMID: 33803407; PMCID: PMC8001875.

[4] Closa-Monasterolo R, Ferré N, Castillejo-DeVillasante G, Luque V, Gispert-Llaurado M, Zaragoza-Jordana M, Theis S, Escribano J. The use of inulin-type fructans improves stool consistency in constipated children. A randomised clinical trial: pilot study. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2017 Aug;68(5):587-594. doi: 10.1080/09637486.2016.1263605. Epub 2016 Dec 8. PMID: 27931142.

[5] Jennings A, Davies GJ, Costarelli V, Dettmar PW. Dietary fibre, fluids and physical activity in relation to constipation symptoms in pre-adolescent children. J Child Health Care. 2009 Jun;13(2):116-27. doi: 10.1177/1367493509102469. PMID: 19458167.

May Zhu, RDN

May Zhu, RDN

May is the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and nutrition expert at Begin Health.