If you are wondering if prebiotics for kids offer the same health benefits that they offer adults, then this article has you covered! Read on to learn all about prebiotics and your child’s health!
Is there anything worse than seeing your child sick or unwell? I honestly cannot think of a single thing. The feeling that you are completely unable to do anything to help his situation can become overwhelming.
And the sense of unavoidable (and completely unwarranted) guilt? Don’t get me started.
But it may be far easier to keep those episodes of illness fewer and farther between than you ever thought possible — by simply keeping your child’s gut healthy!
Really! It seems a little far-fetched at face value, but over the last few years, medicine has really seen a large transition in how it looks at health. The human body is no longer viewed as just a bunch of different systems working independently from one another but as a singular functional unit.
This means that each system within the body is heavily reliant on all of the others for optimal health and function.
And this is especially true for the digestive system.
There is a substantial and growing body of research clearly demonstrating that the health of the digestive system can impact literally every other aspect of the human body. It can impact heart health, immune health, metabolic health, and even mental health!
This means that improving your child’s digestive health with prebiotics offers an easy and effective way of ensuring his entire body is running as smoothly as possible, making him happy, healthy and full of energy day after day after day.
What more could you want?
What are Prebiotics?
Prebiotics are compounds that boost the health of the trillions and trillions of bacteria living in your child’s gut.
Now before you start freaking out on me, I should note that these bacteria aren’t a bad thing. They aren’t nasty bugs that have come to make your little man sick or anything like that.
In fact, these little guys are meant to be there.
They play a number of roles that are essential for keeping your child healthy. They help him fight off bad bacteria, keep his immune system running smoothly, and create important molecules that his cells need to function.
All in all, they are essential to maintaining nearly all aspects of your favorite little human’s health — so much so that scientists collectively refer to them as “good” bacteria.
And prebiotics help feed these good bacteria so that they can colonize the gut better, keeping them — and your child — healthy and strong.
Specific Health Benefits of Prebiotics for Children
Evidence shows that supplementing children’s dies with prebiotics can have a variety of really positive effects on their health.
The most well-researched of these health benefits are:
- Helping them maintain a healthy weight
- Reducing their risk of developing (and helping treat) skin disorders
- Improving their immune system function
- Fighting asthma symptoms
- Reducing the severity of allergies
Maintaining a Healthy Weight
Increasing the number of good bacteria found in your child’s gut with prebiotics can influence his body weight in a number of different ways.
Healthy levels of good gut bacteria have the ability to:
- Limit excessive calorie absorption
- Reduce inflammation and improve insulin sensitivity
- Improve unhealthy hormone secretion rates that promote weight gain
Researchers think a combination of these mechanisms help explain why overweight and obese children given a prebiotic supplement for as little as 16 weeks see a significant reduction in their body fat and striking improvements in markers of their metabolic and cardiovascular health.
Reduce the Risk of Developing (and Help Treat) Skin Disorders
Many common skin conditions (such as eczema) are driven by systemic whole-body inflammation. Fortunately for your itchy little trooper, the good bacteria found within the gut actually produce anti-inflammatory compounds that reduce this harmful inflammation throughout his body.
It is perhaps unsurprising, then, that prebiotic supplements have been shown to help treat inflammatory skin diseases by improving the state of the gut and reducing levels of systemic inflammation.
If your child regularly suffers from eczema or dermatitis, you might want to give a prebiotic a go and see if his knightly-adventures require fewer scratch breaks!
Improve Immune System Function
How many times have you had this happen: your child spends just a couple of days at daycare and comes home with a sniffly nose and a bit of a cough. He spends a couple of days home, recovering (of course getting you sick in the process) before you send him back.
A couple of days later, though, he comes home sick again and the cycle repeats itself.
It’s a common story. But an avoidable one.
The good bacteria in your child’s gut act as his first point of defense against the outside world. The bacteria help fight off invaders before they enter his body, stop the colonization of bad bacteria in his digestive tract, and even produce compounds that make his immune system more effective.
By giving your child prebiotics, you improve his body’s ability to defend against nasty viruses and infections.
That means he gets sick less. And then you get sick less.
Talk about a win-win.
Help Fight Asthma
Asthma is one of the most common diseases on the planet. It is caused by inflammation of the airways, which causes them to swell and narrow. This swelling and narrowing reduce the amount of air that can enter the lungs, making it really difficult to breathe and leading to the debilitating symptoms of asthma.
Luckily, much like in the skin condition scenario above, good gut bacteria have the ability to fight off inflammation in the lungs, helping ease asthma symptoms.
If your child suffers from asthma, prebiotics might provide that little kick he needs to keep him breathing well with less reliance on his inhaler.
Reduce the Severity of Allergies
Over the last few decades, we have seen a huge rise in childhood allergies. While the exact reason remains unclear, there are many who believe that much of the problem stems from the fact that children today come into contact with far fewer pathogens than children did 50 years ago.
While this sounds like a good thing, there is evidence to suggest that pathogen exposure is actually important for the normal and healthy development of the microbiome — the colony of bacteria that live in and on the human body (not just in the gut).
This theory is strongly supported by the fact that those children who suffer from allergies (and there is a lot of them!) tend to have less healthy bacterial profiles than those who do not.
With this in mind, prebiotics may be able to offer a way to improve the health of the bacteria in your child’s gut, thereby reducing the severity of allergies, particularly food allergies.
Natural Sources of Prebiotics
The best natural prebiotic is dietary fiber, so foods rich in fiber are the best natural way to add prebiotics to your child’s diet. Some of the richest sources of dietary fiber include:
Why is dietary fiber such an effective prebiotic?
Instead, when these fiber molecules enter the gut, they are broken down by good gut bacteria for fuel. This directly helps the good gut bacteria grow, boosting their health and function in a big way.
As a result, dietary fiber is the most potent (and well-researched) prebiotic known to man (or in this case, boy)!
Natural Prebiotics vs. Supplements
Now, I know what some of you (or let’s face it, probably, most of you) are thinking: “My kid is pretty picky… and dandelion greens don’t really sound like something he would eat.”
How’d I do? Pretty close?
And I get it, I really do.
Sometimes just getting your child to eat at all is enough of a challenge. You can pretty much forget trying to get him to eat unique foods just to increase his fiber intake.
If this sounds far too familiar, prebiotic supplements may be just what the doctor ordered.
Prebiotic supplements provide a potent dose of gut health-boosting prebiotics straight to the digestive system for your child’s gut bacteria to use immediately in a simple, tasteless (or tasty!) and kid-friendly form.
Related Reading: Top 5 Best Digestive Enzyme Supplements to Fix Leaky Gut
Can Children Take Prebiotic Supplements?
The short answer here is: yes!
Research shows that children can safely take prebiotic supplements as long as they are taking a reasonable dose — say a daily serving of 5 to 10 grams plus an additional gram for each year of the child’s age. (You definitely want to stay under the child’s age + 15 grams per day).
Of course, every child is different and you may have to play around with the dosages a little to find the best fit for your little guy.
This is because prebiotics can cause some side effects if you don’t have the right dose.
Though they aren’t serious, the side effects could make your child pretty uncomfortable, with symptoms such as:
- abdominal cramping
- loose stools
- more frequent bowel movements
If your child does start experiencing any side effects, then I would strongly recommend stopping the prebiotics for a few days and then restarting with a lower dose.
Best Prebiotic Supplements for Kids
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So, taking all of the above into consideration, I know you’re interested in finding a prebiotic supplement for your child! And I wanted to give you some great options to do just that!
So, without further ado, I give you the three best prebiotics for kids available right now!
Rounding out our top three we have Biolever Drinkable Prebiotic Powder for Kids (with Probiotics). As the name suggests, this unique prebiotic supplement comes in powder form. The powder is mixed with water (or another beverage) to create a simple prebiotic drink.
Much like our number two option, this great supplement also contains two key probiotic strains — in addition to the 500 mg of fructooligosaccharides per serving. Talk about a potent prebiotic supplement!
And with over 70% of all consumers on Amazon giving this product a full 5-stars, you can definitely say that it has been extremely well-received.
It is important to note that a number of people have reported that the powder is not completely tasteless when mixed with water (though the flavor is reportedly subtle). As a result, it might be in your best interest to mix it with your kid’s favorite drink to mask any flavor he might not like.
500 mg per serving, once per day
Powder Form (taken in liquid form)
Member’s Mark Probiotic + Prebiotic Gummies are another fantastic prebiotic option for kids. This particular supplement is much like our first choice — it’s also a gummy. However, there are a few points of difference.
Firstly, the gummies come in a number of different flavors (including strawberry, peach, blackberry, mango, and raspberry), meaning you can let your child choose a different flavor each day.
Secondly, Member’s Mark Probiotic Gummies also include two strains of potent probiotics that have been shown, independently of the prebiotic in the gummies, to cause some pretty large improvement in gut bacterial health.
This great supplement provides 80 mg of xylooligosaccharide prebiotic fiber per serving, and with over 70% of its reviews on Amazon being 5-stars, you know it is effective.
80 mg per serving, once per day (2 gummies)
And topping our list: BeLive Prebiotic Fiber Gummies!
These are the perfect kid-friendly prebiotic supplement. They come in gummy form — meaning that they are chewable — are apple-flavored, and delicious. With each individual gummy providing a healthy but moderate dose of prebiotics that help minimize the risk of side effects (5.8 grams of fiber per serving), these really are ideal for kids.
But don’t take just my word for it! Over 80% of all Amazon reviews have given this product a 5-star rating, with almost all of the reviewers raving about both the gummies’ flavor and their effectiveness.
Child-like chewy fun and an effective prebiotic. What more could you want?
5.8 g per serving, once per day
Take Home Message
Prebiotic supplements offer a great way to improve your child’s global health by enhancing the health and function of the good bacteria in his gut. The three options listed in this article are what I believe to be, hands down, the best prebiotics for kids on the market!
So, what are you waiting for? Give them a go and let us know what you and, more importantly, your little man, think!
Supplementing with butyrate may help your gut wall get stronger, healthier, and more able to do its job. Read Next: Top 5 Best Butyrate Supplements for Leaky Gut Cure