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Prebiotics vs Probiotics (and then there are antibiotics)



They sound the same, but when we compare prebiotics vs probiotics, also known as lactic acid-producing bacteria (LAB), we see them playing different roles in helping parents raise happy, healthy kids. The key is the balance between the good and the bad bacteria in the digestive tract. And then there are antibiotics – what role do they play?

What you need to know about good and bad digestive tract bacteria

Did you know that not all bacteria are bad for you? In fact, the digestive tract has both good and bad bacteria. The human digestive tract contains more bacteria than living cells in the human body. This bacteria needs to be in good balance to help us stay healthy. However, all sorts of environmental factors can disturb the bacteria balance which can lead to diarrhoea, constipation and even allergies and other health issues.

An abundance of good bacteria helps fight off the bad ones. This means that balancing the bacteria in the digestive tract can help your child maintain a healthy immune system.

Probiotics vs prebiotics

Probiotics (LAB) are good bacteria (live microorganisms) that can help restore the balance of bacteria in your child’s digestive tract. Probiotics (LAB) occur naturally in the body, but you can also add them to your child’s diet with a supplement or certain food types. Many fermented foods such as yoghurt and kefir use Lactobacilli as an acidifying agent and have shown to possess protective qualities. Not all good bacteria are created equal, and for a probiotic (LAB) to remain beneficial for your children, it must be consumed live and remain intact throughout the digestive processes

Prebiotics are food ingredients that, when eaten, reduce bad bacteria by supporting the growth of good bacteria in the digestive tract. Onions, garlic, banana, asparagus, leeks, and other fruits and vegetables contain prebiotic sugars that feed good bacteria and help it grow.

What are antibiotics?

Antibiotics are medicines that your doctor prescribes to treat infections and disease. They kill bad bacteria so that your child’s immune system has a fighting chance against bacterial infections. Sometimes, they can kill good bacteria too, which is why you should give your child probiotics (LAB) to boost good bacteria and prevent complications from antibiotic use, such as antibiotic-associated diarrhoea. Look out for strains that include Lactobacillusreuteri, Bifidobacteriumlactis, Lactobacillusrhamnosus and Bifidobacteriumlongum, as these have shown specific beneficial effects in children.

So probiotics vs prebiotics?

The simple answer is – your child needs both. By boosting good bacteria, you are keeping your little one healthy. And the next time you are prescribed a dose of antibiotics, remember to ask your doctor for a course of probiotics (LAB) too. Giving your child pre- and probiotic-rich foods, such as cereals, yoghurt, fresh bananas and other fruits and vegetables can play a key role in preventing diarrhoea, constipation, other infections and even allergies.