Latest studies suggest probiotics may reverse childhood malnutrition

By Adi Menayang

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags International probiotics association World health organization

Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock
As more studies suggesting the benefits and safety of probiotics emerge, the executive director of the International Probiotics Association foresees probiotics to play a larger role against global health crises.

Last week, the MIT Technology Review published an article​ that looked at two recent studies supporting the role probiotics can play in helping to reverse the devastation of childhood malnutrition.

“The more we learn about the communities of microorganisms that live in our bodies, the more the microbiome reveals itself to be a rich source of clues for how to treat a wide range of afflictions,”​ the article said.

The studies cited came from two prominent journals: one in Cell​, where researchers found​ that breast-feeding “may help the right microbes get established and set the baby’s growth on the right trajectory;” ​and another in Science​, a mice study that found​ that “young, germ-free mice don’t put on as much muscle or grow bones as big as mice that have the normal complement of bacteria.”

A platform for probiotics

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that malnutrition accounts for more than one third of all child deaths​. The causes range from rising food prices to inadequate breastfeeding to offering the wrong foods.

“What was published is great work. It will be amazing if we can get the message out there and have a strong platform and gather people to come on board and get probiotics to these populations,” ​George Paraskevakos, Executive Director at the International Probiotics Association (IPA) told NutraIngredients-USA, referring to the studies cited by the MIT Technology Review.

Just last fall at SupplySide West, Paraskevakos said that regulators around the world“are starting to turn the corner on probiotics.”

“Of course there are pockets around the world that aren’t yet [open to probiotics]–I would say it’s more about understanding and education,” ​he added. “Probiotics are microorganisms and they do react differently than chemical compound, or other vitamins and dietary supplements

Paraskevakos said that the message of probiotics should be disseminated in as many channels as possible, “not only consumers and regulators, but also healthcare providers,” ​adding that this can increase the exposure and recognition of probiotics for humanitarian efforts.

The latest example of governments showing more support for research in the field is an announcement​ from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy’s national call to action for microbiome science.

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