Prebiotics–Their Effects On Immune System And Recurrent Infections
It’s a widely accepted fact that nutrition during early life can significantly impact growth as well as the immediate and future health of the infant. Breastfeeding and nutritional intervention during this critical window can help avert both infectious and non-communicable disease risk during childhood and later life. A lesser-known fact about breast milk is - it is a living substance and its composition does not remain constant. Prebiotic oligosaccharides are an abundant bioactive component present in breast milk. This component is naturally effective in protecting and promoting the health of infants.
Breast Milk – Benefits & Characteristics:
Breast milk adapts closely to match the changing needs of the infants. As the baby grows older, the mother’s breast milk produces more antibodies and lymphocytes to help the baby resist infections caused by pathogens & viruses present in the environment. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life and continue up to 2 years of life along with complementary feed.
The composition of human milk is extremely complex. It consists of 88% water and major compounds such as lactose, lipids, and proteins in appropriate proportions. However, the lesser known fact is that prebiotic Oligosaccharides are the 3rd largest component of breast milk. They are important for enhancing immunity and gut health.
What are Prebiotics?
If you have been conscious about keeping your gut healthy, then you might have heard about beneficial probiotics and prebiotics. Probiotics refer to the actual bacteria that help to improve intestinal health where as prebiotics are the non-digestible components of food that are needed for the probiotics to ferment and remain alive in the gut. This creates a healthy gut flora there by making the immune system stronger. Prebiotics are far more than a list of ingredients and much more than nutrition.
Several studies have shown that prebiotics selectively stimulates the growth and activity of good bacteria present in the human gut, while it also potentially reduces the risk of certain bad bacteria causing recurrent infections.
Low immunity typically manifests as recurrent infections. Recurrent Infections are typically defined as more frequently occurring, more severe and long-lasting infections in the human body in a year. Examples are cold, cough, fever, gastrointestinal infections, allergies, etc.
It has been discovered that prebiotics has a profound influence on these recurrent infections as they naturally strengthen the baby’s immune system. According to available scientific data, supplementation of short chain GOS/long chain FOS (scGOS/lcGOS) offers benefits such as:
- Promotes frequent and softer stools
- Decreases usage of antibiotics
- Reduces incidences of diarrhoea
- Decreases incidence of cold and fever
- Reduces allergic illnesses
- Improves gut health
With so many notable and unrivaled health benefits– ‘Be certain about the safety and efficacy of prebiotics’.