The important bacteria in our gut are constantly shifting in composition. Naturally, throughout our lives, and as we age, the composition changes.
Breast milk contains a wealth of nutritious ingredients which help to support the gut function of infants and children from an early age. The nutrients include a type of prebiotic called Human Milk Oligosaccharides (HMOs), believed to help to establish a healthy balance of good bacteria in the baby’s gut. Because of this, babies that have been breast-fed tend to have much higher levels of good bacteria, including bifidobacteria, than formula-fed infants.
In formula milk, first-generation prebiotics (FOS) are added in an effort to mimic the benefits of HMOs but requires a higher dose to deliver the same prebiotic effect as Galactooligosaccharides (GOS).
Structurally, GOS prebiotics are a closer match to naturally occurring HMOs and offer similar health benefits, such as rebalancing the gut microbiota, supporting the function of the immune system and protecting the body from pathogens. Their similarity to natural HMOs means they can be safely given to children from a young age, which is why GOS can be used in formula.
Tummy upsets and digestive problems are common among young children. Their immune system is still developing, and they readily encounter new bacteria in their environment. Antibiotics at this age, although often necessary, can also have the side effect of killing not only the ‘bad bacteria’ – but the good bacteria in the gut too. GOS prebiotic supplements can help to rebalance gut bacteria and restore the good bacteria in the gut after a course of antibiotics or illness, for example.
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