Get to Know the Difference between Probiotics, Prebiotics, and Synbiotics

Oleh: Morinaga Platinum

A healthy gut is proven to support the health in general. Why would it be? The gut is an important organ that plays role in the growth and development, immunity, as well overall health of children by helping maximum absorption of nutrients.

The health of children’s gut is influenced by various factors. To mention one, is the presence of microorganisms within it. The ‘bad’ bacteria in the gut can be countered by taking into account the number of ‘good’ bacteria. In contrast to the bacteria often referred to as the culprit, probiotics are bacteria or fungi that may support the digestive system.

Probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics are contained in many supplements or healthy food. Its function is to maintain the health of the gut. But are they the same?

Probiotics

Probiotics are living microorganisms that if being consumed in sufficient amount, may provide benefits to our gut health. Most of these ‘good’ microorganisms come from the Bifidobacterium species. This good Bifidobacterium help suppress ‘bad’ bacteria within you child’s gut, that may cause disturbances, as well as to balance the number of good and bad bacteria. Probiotics also triggers the growth of new good bacteria, including those lost due to antibiotic treatment.

In children, Bifidobacterium have proven benefits, those are to prevent and overcome diarrhea. Bifidobacterium can also improve bowel movement, prevent respiratory infection, as well as reduce risk of allergies and cold. Furthermore, Bifidobacterium are also useful to manage other gastrointestinal disorders, such as gastritis, irritable bowel syndrome, and colic.

Prebiotics

Prebiotics are substances within the food that cannot be digested by human gut. This substance is beneficial because it supports the growth and activity of good bacteria, such as Bifidobacterium, in children. In general, prebiotics are carbohydrates that cannot be digested nor absorbed. The ideal example of prebiotics is lactulose.

Results from clinical trial that support the benefit of prebiotics in children are very limited. However, prebiotics are said to have long-term effect in preventing atopic dermatitis and infectious diseases. Other benefits are preventing diarrhea, constipation, and cancer, as well as stimulate mineral absorption.

Synbiotics

After reading the explanation above, it can be concluded that prebiotics and probiotics work in collaboration to improve or maintain our health. Prebiotics are food for probiotics. Besides these two terms, came out another term called synbiotics. What is that? Synbiotics are combination of probiotics and prebiotics that work synergistically. “Lots of research have proven that prebiotics and probiotics are not beneficial for digestion. The body becomes healthier and more resistant to diseases by consuming both,” said Kristi King, MPH, RDN, LD, CNSC, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Today, you can find many products of infant formula that have been fortified by synbiotics. Consuming formula or other products containing synbiotics may increase growth, boost immunity, and reduce incident infectious diseases such as diarrhea, respiratory as well as ear infection in children.

So, how is it Moms and Dads? Do not forget to always include food sources rich in good bacteria to maintain the health of the family.

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