How Prebiotics for Kids Support Your Child’s Digestive Health
- Probiotics are beneficial gut bacteria that help to keep your child’s digestive and immune systems healthy.
- Prebiotics provide food for probiotics. Make sure you’re giving your little one enough prebiotic fiber too.
- It can be a challenge to get your child to eat enough prebiotic-rich food, so prebiotic supplements can help to fill the gap.
Let’s face it — digestive health is not to be taken lightly! You’ve experienced this first hand if your child has ever complained of a “sore tummy.” Sometimes, they don’t even need words to let you know they have a bad stomach.
Your pediatric expert or one of your fellow moms might have recommended probiotics and/or prebiotics for kids. You probably know what probiotics are, but what about prebiotics? Where do they fit into the mix?
Let’s explore what prebiotics for kids are, how they work, and how they can benefit your child’s gut health and overall wellness. We’ll also look at how you can incorporate more prebiotics into your little one’s diet to keep their digestive systems operating well — and save your sanity in the process.
Your Little One’s Microbiome
We can’t have a discussion about prebiotics for kids without first talking about your child’s gut microbiome and probiotics. Let’s start with the microbiome.
The human microbiome is a complex and delicate balance of helpful and unfriendly gut bacteria and microorganisms. Too much of the bad bacteria and too little of the good, and you may end up with gastrointestinal issues and/or infections that range from mild to chronic.
On the other hand, when the good bugs hold the fort, they help destroy unfriendly bacteria. This is important because the gut microbiome has a major impact on health and wellness, especially the digestive and immune systems (these two systems are closely linked).
Now, imagine a mini version of this happening in your child’s sensitive digestive tract. To keep things working as they should be, your little one needs both probiotics and prebiotics in their diet.
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live cultures that help to populate the gut with healthy bacteria and ease gastrointestinal symptoms. They keep food moving through the intestines, clear out the colon, and soften stool so it easily moves through your little one’s system.
Probiotic bacteria also provide other health benefits. For example, they strengthen the immune system, help balance out blood sugar, and can help relieve colic and eczema.
You can increase your child’s probiotic intake by giving them the right foods, especially fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut (although good luck getting them to eat that last one!).
Getting enough probiotic foods into them can always be a challenge though, which is where probiotic supplements come in. Some of the most popular probiotic strains found in supplements include Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, and Bifidobacterium bifidum. Bifidobacterium infantis are especially useful for kids.
So What Are Prebiotics?
Prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates — mostly fiber that isn’t easily destroyed by stomach acid or digestive enzymes — that provide food for the probiotics. As the human body can’t digest prebiotic fiber, it moves all the way through the intestinal tract to the lower part of the digestive system and helps feed those beneficial bacteria we were just talking about.
Essentially, prebiotics are kind of like fertilizer, promoting the growth of probiotics. And without prebiotics, the probiotics can’t thrive and do their job. Basically, you can give your child as many probiotics as you want, but unless they have prebiotics to feed on, you’re wasting your time and money.
Since prebiotics increase the effectiveness of probiotics, they work very well in tandem to tip the balance in your child’s gut towards more good bacteria than bad. So it’s surprising that, until recently, prebiotic supplements were hard to come by. Luckily, you can now find supplements like Llama Naturals Prebiotic and Probiotic Gummies, which combine prebiotics and probiotics.
As a bonus, research also shows that prebiotics help your child’s body absorb calcium, which is critical for healthy bones.
How Are Kids’ Prebiotics and Kids’ Probiotics Different From Adult Ones?
Kids' prebiotics and probiotics are formulated differently to take into account your little one’s sensitive and developing system. The concentrations and doses should be different from the adult version, so read the dosage directions carefully.
Kid’s supplements are also often sweetened, and therein lies a potential issue. If you check the ingredients list of a product touting something like “with probiotics and prebiotic fiber,” you may well find that it also contains a lot of added sugar. That sugar helps it appeal to your little one’s taste buds, but it also has a negative impact on adults’ immune system (there are few kid-specific studies) — which is really the last thing you want if you care about immune health.
Rather choose a wholesome supplement that you know is only going to boost your child’s health and wellness.
When Your Growing Child May Need a Prebiotic Supplement
Your child may not have the language to tell you exactly how they’re feeling, but simple words and body language can speak volumes. For example, they might hold their stomach or complain that they feel sick or their tummy hurts.
Of course, it may be that they’ve eaten too much candy, don’t want to eat their vegetables, or simply want some attention. Trust your instincts or watch for other signs that mean you should investigate further. For example, if they suffer from:
- Stomach cramps
- Acid reflux
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Upper respiratory tract infections
Luckily, probiotics and prebiotics for kids can go a long way towards dealing with these issues and more.
Bear in mind though that your child’s health — digestive or otherwise — can be affected by many factors, including their diet, environment, and stress levels. Always consult your pediatrician or other healthcare provider to make sure your child’s health condition is correctly diagnosed and they’re getting the treatment they need.
When Your Child Probably Doesn’t Need a Prebiotic Supplement
If you’re breastfeeding your baby, they have a natural advantage. Breast milk contains prebiotic oligosaccharides that support your child’s digestive and immune health. Breastfed infants have fewer infections and allergies and more easily maintain a healthy weight.
Oligosaccharides are also sometimes added to infant formulas, promoting a microbiome similar to that created by breast milk. So either way, so long as your baby is getting those prebiotics, they’re good.
Once they move onto solid foods though, things may get a bit more tricky.
Whole Food Sources of Prebiotics for Kids
As you now know, it’s critical that your child’s diet includes enough prebiotics to feed the healthy gut bacteria. Luckily, prebiotics are naturally found in many common foods such as these:
- Whole wheat
You may also notice prebiotics have been added to some products like yogurt, cereals, pasta, or snack bars. For example, if you see prebiotic fiber, inulin, oligosaccharides, chicory root extract, or beta-glucan on the ingredients list of your child’s food, you know they’re getting some extra prebiotics. Don’t stop reading there though — as we’ve mentioned, you also need to check what else is in there.
However, if your child is a picky eater — and what child isn’t — you may struggle to get them to eat enough prebiotic-rich foods regularly enough. And it does need to be regular if you want your child to stay regular (pardon the pun!).
A healthy prebiotic supplement like Llama Naturals Prebiotic and Probiotic whole fruit gummies comes in real handy here.
Why Llama Naturals Gummies Are a Great Source of Prebiotics for Kids
Llama Naturals Organic Prebiotic and Probiotic Gummies are packed with real fruit, slow-cooked to maintain the most nutrients. They’re full of prebiotics and probiotics to keep your child’s gut bacteria healthy. That’s one billion colony-forming units (CFUs) of probiotics and 500 mg of oligosaccharides per bite to be exact.
They contain no added sugar or synthetics, and they’re gluten-free and lactose-free. They’re also shelf-stable, which means you don’t need to keep them in the fridge. And best of all, they’re delicious, bite-sized, and chewable, and kids love them!
Important note: The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates dietary supplements differently from medicine — in fact, they are regulated as a category of food. This means that manufacturers don’t have to receive pre-approval from the FDA before marketing their products — instead, they are largely self-regulated. So make sure you buy a reputable brand that’s been independently tested, like Llama Naturals.
Side Effects of Prebiotics for Kids
Prebiotic fiber can have unwanted effects if you try to add too much to your child’s diet at once when their little tummy isn’t used to it. They may end up with bloating, gas, or complaints about a sore stomach. Start slowly, and check the recommended dose for your child’s age.
Also note that if your child is chronically ill or has a compromised immune system, probiotic supplements might not be the best choice for them. Consult your pediatrician before adding any supplements to their diet.
Prebiotics for Kids Support Your Child’s Health
Your child needs healthy gut bacteria to keep their digestive and immune system working well. That means enough probiotics to keep the good gut bacteria in charge and enough prebiotics to feed those probiotics.You can boost your child’s prebiotic intake with the right whole foods. An easier way to take care of your child’s gut microbiome is to supplement with healthy and delicious prebiotic gummies from a brand that really cares. Look out for Llama Naturals Prebiotic and Probiotic Gummies today — your child will love them!