By adding prebiotics to infant formula, a group of researchers have enhanced the cognitive performance of piglets. The findings back up earlier work and suggest an important role for prebiotics in brain development.
Anyone who has had children will have heard the phrase “breast is best.” This is a given, but, for a wide range of reasons, not every mother can breast-feed their baby.
For this reason, it is important that infant formula provides the best start in life and mimics the incredible capabilities of breast milk as closely as possible.
Already, infant formula is a good substitute, but there is always room for improvement when you are competing against Mother Nature.
Breast milk naturally contains prebiotics, which are small, indigestible fiber molecules; they provide a welcoming environment for gut bacteria.
Having the gut colonized by bacteria early in life is important for the developing immune system and helps prevent infections. Also, studies have shown that adding prebiotics to infant formula can help improve intestinal function and reduce allergies.
A recent study from the University of Illinois’ Piglet Nutrition and Cognition Lab investigated what effects adding prebiotics to infant formula might have on pigs. Specifically, they wanted to know whether it would enhance memory and exploratory behavior.