Child Health Benefits of Probiotics

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Discovery of probiotics has held us amazed. We have been enjoying yogurt but were unaware that Lactobacillus, the good bacteria in yogurt, were instrumental in imparting the beneficial effects on child health.

It was only in the early 1900s that Nobel laureate Elie Metchnikoff first drew our attention towards scientific reasons of health benefits associated with the consumption of good bacteria along with fermented foods like yogurt.

Modernization changed our outlook. In effort to meet high standards of hygiene, we jeopardize the millions of years old relationship with good bacteria.

The threatened good gut flora evolved new defenses for itself, which unfortunately lead to undesirable consequences for us.

The rapid rise in incidence of allergic and autoimmune disorders, over the past few decades, is attributed to a reduced microbial burden during childhood, as a consequence of more developed affluent standards of living.

What are probiotics

The World Health Organization defines them as "live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host".

How do probiotics confer child health benefits?

  • Synthesize certain vitamins

  • Help optimize tissue development

  • Maturation of lymphatic system 

  • Reduces the risk of clinical Type 1 Diabetes

  • Empower us the ability to fight the disease producing bacteria.

    * They help optimal maturation and education of the developing immune system to a non-atopic state during early phases of childhood development.

    * Overcome the disease producing bacteria that enter the gut by competing with them for nutrients and attachment sites. 

    * Stimulate the immune system to produce adequate antibodies to fight the pathogens.

    * Produce postbiotics, a byproduct of their metabolism, which help in the betterment of 
  • - Nutrition
    - Metabolism
    - Protection
    - Immune regulation

How do breast-fed babies get probiotics?

Human milk is a natural prebiotic, and is therefore highly recommended for infants; at least for first 6 months of life. Low incidence of allergies in breast fed infants is also attributed to its efficient prebiotic effect.

Human milk has naturally occurring good bacteria, and the oligosaccharides in it contribute to its prebiotic effect.

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What are prebiotics?

Prebiotics are the indigestible ingredients of food that have the capacity to selectively stimulate the beneficial bacteria of the gut flora. Consequently, the growth and the activity of indigenous friendly bacteria are increased such that they prevent the invasion of disease causing bacteria.

What are probiotics supplements?

These are the commercially marketed supplements of beneficial bacteria from human origin. They are resistant to gastric acid and bile. They adhere to the intestinal epithelium and colonize in human gut.

They are also available as

  • Prebiotics supplements

  • Symbiotic supplements

Pro and prebiotics supplements are being used for the treatment and prevention of atopic eczema with appreciable results. They are also proved to be of benefit in treatment of common childhood infections.

Symbiotic supplements are the combinations of pro and prebiotics.

  • Symbiotic supplements are marketed as separate preparation and as additives in foods.

  • The symbiotic preparation may not necessarily also be synergistic in action.

  • The combination expeditiously stimulates the propagation and colonization of the beneficial gut flora.

  • It is therefore used therapeutically in various diseases to promote balance in the gut flora.

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