As a Registered Dietitian, I'm asked frequently about which nutrients to prioritize for growing kids. One common question related to this is whether kids need prebiotic fiber every day. Just like how your kiddos need a variety of vitamins and minerals daily, regular prebiotics are essential because it helps maintain bowel regularity and a healthy digestion. Let’s review the health benefits of daily prebiotic consumption for kids and how as parents, we can make incorporating prebiotics into your little one's diet a seamless and enjoyable experience.
Benefits of Prebiotics for Kids
Prebiotics are a type of dietary fiber that cannot be digested by our bodies but serve as a crucial food source for the beneficial bacteria living in our gut, known as probiotics. The relationship between prebiotics and probiotics is a fundamental one that holds the key to many health benefits, particularly for our little ones:
Digestive Health: Prebiotics promote the growth and activity of probiotics, helping maintain a balanced gut microbiome. A healthy gut microbiome is linked to regularity and a reduced risk of gastrointestinal issues in kids, such as constipation and diarrhea .
Immune Support: A strong immune system is essential for kids, as they are often exposed to various pathogens and infections. Prebiotics help stimulate good gut bacteria such as bifidobacteria, which can help enhance the immune response in the gut to build a stronger immune system in kids .
Nutrient Absorption: A well-balanced gut microbiome ensures efficient absorption of essential nutrients, such as calcium and magnesium, which are vital for a kid’s growth and development .
Mood and Behavior: Emerging research suggests a connection between gut health and mood. A healthy gut microbiome can potentially influence your kiddos’ mood and behavior in a positive way and help reduce the risk for symptoms linked to anxiety and depression .
Why Should Kids Take Prebiotics Every Day?
It’s estimated that up to 95% of kids do not meet their recommended daily intake of fiber . The role of dietary fiber to help promote good health and reduce risk for several chronic diseases is supported by years of dietary recommendations and scientific research. Studies show a positive effect of dietary fiber intake in the treatment for constipation in kids and increasing the fiber consumption is the first treatment option for chronic constipation in healthy kids .
Another study linking fiber to kiddos, specifically prebiotic fiber, found that daily consumption of prebiotics such as chicory root inulin was associated with softer stools, higher counts of beneficial bacteria (Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus) in stools, and fewer infections in kids that require medical attention .
How to Include Growing Up Prebiotics in Your Kid’s Diet Daily
Smoothies: Blend Growing Up Prebiotics into your kiddos’ morning smoothie. The neutral taste won't overpower the flavors of their favorite fruits.
Oatmeal or Cereal: Mix it into a bowl of oatmeal or the milk of your choice in their favorite bowl of cereal.
Yogurt Pops: Mix into yogurt of choice and freeze into popsicles for a delicious, prebiotic boost.
Baking: Add it to your favorite homemade muffins, pancakes, or cookies recipes for a nutritious way to boost fiber.
Sauces and Soups: Stir it into sauces and soups, perfect for kiddos who prefer savory options.
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May is the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and nutrition expert at Begin Health.
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