The Benefits of Prebiotic Supplements for Diarrhea Relief

August 04, 2023 3 min read

The Benefits of Prebiotic Supplements for Diarrhea Relief

Prebiotic supplements have been found to help with different types of diarrheas, including acute diarrhea, antibiotic-associated diarrhea, and diarrhea in infants and young children. The mechanism by which prebiotics improve gut health and function to manage diarrhea varies:

  • Acute diarrhea is usually caused by infections, and it is characterized by the rapid onset of loose or watery stools, often accompanied by cramping and abdominal pain. A review of studies published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology found that prebiotic supplementation can help to reduce the duration of acute diarrhea and decrease the risk of developing antibiotic-associated diarrhea (1). Prebiotics work by stimulating the growth and activity of beneficial gut bacteria, which can help to improve gut function, reduce inflammation, and strengthen the gut barrier. By promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria, prebiotics can also help to reduce the growth of harmful bacteria, which can contribute to diarrhea.
  • Antibiotic-associated diarrhea occurs when antibiotics disrupt the balance of gut microbiota, leading to the overgrowth of harmful bacteria such as Clostridium difficile. A study published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology found that a multispecies probiotic supplement containing prebiotics can improve bowel movements in healthy volunteers taking the antibiotic amoxicillin (2). Prebiotics can help to prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea by promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, which can outcompete harmful bacteria and maintain the balance of gut microbiota.
  • Prebiotics have also been found to be effective in reducing the frequency and severity of diarrhea in infants and young children. A Cochrane review of studies found that prebiotics can reduce the risk of diarrhea in infants and may also have a preventative effect against allergy-related conditions (3). Prebiotics may work by modulating the gut microbiota composition and enhancing the production of SCFAs, which can help to strengthen the gut barrier, reduce inflammation, and improve gut function.

Prebiotic supplements can help to manage diarrhea by promoting the growth and activity of beneficial gut bacteria, which can help to restore the natural balance of gut microbiota, improve gut function, and reduce inflammation:

  • Increasing gut microbial diversity: Prebiotics are a type of dietary fiber that cannot be digested by humans, but can be fermented by gut bacteria in the colon. This fermentation process produces short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) such as butyrate, acetate, and propionate, which are beneficial for gut health. SCFAs can help to increase gut microbial diversity and improve gut function.
  • Regulating gut motility: Prebiotics have been shown to improve gut motility, which can help to reduce the severity and duration of diarrhea. By promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria, prebiotics can help regulate the speed at which food moves through the digestive system, which can prevent diarrhea.
  • Reducing inflammation: Prebiotics can help to reduce inflammation in the gut by promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria that produce anti-inflammatory compounds. Studies have shown that prebiotics can help to reduce the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and increase the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines in the gut.
  • Preventing pathogen growth: Prebiotics can also help to prevent the growth of harmful pathogens in the gut by competing for space and nutrients with these pathogens. This can help to reduce the risk of diarrhea caused by pathogenic bacteria.
  • Enhancing gut barrier function: Prebiotics can help to enhance the gut barrier function by promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria that produce mucin, a substance that lines the gut and helps to prevent harmful substances from entering the bloodstream. This can help to reduce the risk of diarrhea caused by harmful substances in the gut.

References:

  1. Guarino A, et al. Use of prebiotics in the treatment of acute diarrhoea in young children. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2012;46 Suppl:S95-S98.
  2. Koning CJ, et al. The effect of a multispecies probiotic on the intestinal microbiota and bowel movements in healthy volunteers taking the antibiotic amoxycillin. Am J Gastroenterol. 2008;103(1):178-189.
  3. Szajewska H, et al. Prebiotics in infants for prevention of allergy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015;8:CD006474.
  4. Canani RB, et al. Potential beneficial effects of butyrate in intestinal and extraintestinal diseases. World J Gastroenterol. 2011;17(12):1519-1528.


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