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5 Reasons Why Prebiotic Fiber is Essential for Kids' Gut Health and Supporting Constipation

A happy tummy and good digestion is vital for our kiddos’ overall health and well-being. Maintaining a healthy gut is essential to support their growth and development, as well as supporting symptoms from digestive issues such as constipation. One key ingredient that can be a part of the toolbox for a balanced gut in our kiddos is prebiotic fiber. We created Growing Up Prebiotics here at Begin Health to help support our little one’s digestive health by making their poops softer and easier [1]. Let’s explore five reasons why prebiotic fiber is essential for kids' gut health and how it can be part of your little one’s strategy for constipation support.

Nourishment for the Gut Microbiome

Prebiotic fiber refers to indigestible plant fibers that act as nutrients for the beneficial bacteria living in our gut. By nourishing these friendly microbes, prebiotic fiber helps these microbes thrive and maintain a balanced gut microbiome. A balanced microbiome is important for optimal digestion, nutrient absorption, and immune function [7,8].

Promotes Softer and Regular Bowel Movements

Studies have shown that up to 30% of kids struggle with functional constipation [2]. Evidence from several studies have clearly shown the association between a low-fiber diet and functional constipation [3,4,5].

Prebiotics can help support constipation by increasing the production of short-chain fatty acids in the gut, which are produced during fermentation of fiber in the stomach. These fatty acids help in the absorption of water and soften stools to promote easier poops and more frequent bowel movements [6].

Additionally, clinical research on the prebiotics in chicory root fiber, an ingredient we use in our Growing Up Prebiotics also demonstrates an increase in stooling frequency, a softer consistency, and a decrease in stooling pain in six weeks with daily, consistent use in kids [1].

Boosts Beneficial Gut Bacteria

Adding prebiotics in your kiddos diet helps stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria like Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli, two of the most frequently studied strains of probiotics in kids [7]. Studies have shown the positive health effects of prebiotic fiber on the increase of Bifidobacteria for the development of a healthy microbiome in infants. Lower levels of bifidobacteria in infants has been shown to increase the prevalence of obesity, diabetes, and metabolic disorder later in life [9].

Supports the Immune System

Did you know that 70% of our immune system lives in the gut [10]? Research has shown the differences between the microbiome composition between healthy kids and kids that struggle with atopic diseases, such as eczema, suggesting that reduced bacterial diversity and dysbiosis is associated with the development of atopic diseases [11,12].

Dietary fiber intake provides similar health benefits for kids as for adults, and prebiotic fibers may help enhance immune function [13]. The addition of prebiotic fibers in the diet can support our kiddos’ overall health and immunity.

Improves Digestive Health and Gut Diversity in Infants, Toddlers, and Kids

Studies show that adding a prebiotic fiber called inulin into the diets of infants, toddlers, and kids can support improvement of the gut microbiome composition. The gut microbiome is influenced by the balance of both probiotics and prebiotics in the gut. Our Begin Health Growing Up Prebiotics contains chicory root fiber, which is a source of inulin and can serve as nourishment for kids’ guts, with research showing supportive digestive health effects [1,14,15]. These studies also find that the consumption of prebiotics such as inulin is safe for our little ones to use on a daily, consistent basis [1].

Encouraging a Varied Diet:

Prebiotics are found in a variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, and legumes. For more ideas on sources of prebiotic fiber, check out our blog on the Top Sources of Prebiotics for Kids. Including these fiber-rich foods in your kid’s diet encourages them to consume a diverse range of nutrients that helps naturally feed their gut microbiome. However, it can be challenging for kids, especially pickier eaters to get sufficient prebiotics through diet alone. Prebiotic supplements, such as Begin Health’s Growing Up Prebiotics can be beneficial as a way to boost your little one’s fiber intake.

Summary:Prioritizing your kiddos’ gut health is essential for their overall well-being and prebiotics play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy digestive system. Prebiotics can help promote the growth of friendly gut bacteria, support immunity, and support constipation through softer stooling. Include a variety of prebiotic-rich foods in your kid’s diet to diversify their fiber intake and consider incorporating a kids’ prebiotic supplement like our Growing Up Prebiotics to support a happy and balanced gut.

References:

[1] Closa-Monasterolo, R., Ferré, N., Castillejo-DeVillasante, G., Luque, V., Gispert-Llauradó, M., Zaragoza-Jordana, M., Theis, S., & Escribano, J. (2016b). The use of inulin-type fructans improves stool consistency in constipated children. A randomised clinical trial: pilot study. International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, 68(5), 587–594. https://doi.org/10.1080/09637486.2016.1263605

[2] Rajindrajith, S., & Devanarayana, N. M. (2011). Constipation in Children: Novel insight into Epidemiology, Pathophysiology and Management. Journal of Neurogastroenterology and Motility, 17(1), 35–47. https://doi.org/10.5056/jnm.2011.17.1.35

[3] Roma, E., Adamidis, D., Nikolara, R., Constantopoulos, A., & Messaritakis, J. (1999). Diet and chronic constipation in children: The role of fiber. Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, 28(2), 169–174. https://doi.org/10.1097/00005176-199902000-00015

[4] Lee, W. T. K., Ip, K. S., Chan, J., Lui, N. W. M., & Young, B. W. (2008). Increased prevalence of constipation in pre-school children is attributable to under-consumption of plant foods: A community-based study. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 44(4), 170–175. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1440-1754.2007.01212.x

[5] Inan, M., Aydiner, C., Tokuç, B., Aksu, B., Ayvaz, S., Ayhan, S., Ceylan, T., & Basaran, U. N. (2007). Factors associated with childhood constipation. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 43(10), 700–706. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1440-1754.2007.01165.x

[6] Dreher, M. L. (2018). Whole fruits and fruit fiber emerging health effects. Nutrients, 10(12), 1833. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10121833

[7] Carlson, J., Erickson, J. L., Lloyd, B., & Slavin, J. L. (2018b). Health effects and sources of prebiotic dietary fiber. Current Developments in Nutrition, 2(3), nzy005. https://doi.org/10.1093/cdn/nzy005

[8] Sharifi-Rad, J., Rodrigues, C. F., Stojanović-Radić, Z., Dimitrijevic, M., Aleksić, A., Neffe-Skocińska, K., Zielinska, D., Kołożyn-Krajewska, D., Salehi, B., Prabu, S. M., Schütz, F., Docea, A. O., Martins, N., & Calina, D. (2020). Probiotics: versatile bioactive components in promoting human health. Medicina-lithuania, 56(9), 433. https://doi.org/10.3390/medicina56090433

[9] Stuivenberg, G. A., Burton, J. P., Bron, P. A., & Reid, G. (2022). Why are bifidobacteria important for infants? Microorganisms, 10(2), 278. https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms10020278

[10] Wiertsema, S. P., Van Bergenhenegouwen, J., Garssen, J., & Knippels, L. (2021). 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, 13(3), 886. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13030886

[11] Wopereis, H., Oozeer, R., Knipping, K., Belzer, C., & Knol, J. (2014). The first thousand days - intestinal microbiology of early life: establishing a symbiosis. Pediatric Allergy and Immunology, 25(5), 428–438. https://doi.org/10.1111/pai.12232

[12] Wopereis H., Sim K., Shaw A., Warner J.O., Knol J., Kroll J.S. Intestinal microbiota in infants at high risk for allergy: Effects of prebiotics and role in eczema development. J. Allergy Clin. Immunol. 2018;141:1334–1342. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2017.05.054.

[13] Anderson, J. W., Baird, P., Davis, R. H., Ferreri, S. P., Knudtson, M., Koraym, A., Waters, V., & Williams, C. L. (2009). Health benefits of dietary fiber. Nutrition Reviews, 67(4), 188–205. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1753-4887.2009.00189.x

[14] AbramsSA,GriffinIJ,HawthorneKMetal.(2005)A combination of prebiotic short -and long-chain inulin-type fructans enhances calcium absorption and bone mineralization in young adolescents. Am J Clin Nutr 82(2): 471–476. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/82/2/471.full.pdf

[15] Hume MP, Nicolucci AC, Reimer RA (2017) Prebiotic supplementation improves appetite control in children with overweight and obesity: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr 105(4): 790–799. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28228425

May Zhu, RDN

May Zhu, RDN

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



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