Cultured Milk for Children

Every child loves a drink of cultured milk. They love it for its taste and definitely its colour. In fact, not just a child, but any adult would love the same.

Cultured milk existed long ago, as a way to increase the shelf life of a milk product, and at the same time to enhance the taste and improve digestibility of milk. Dairy milk is fermented with lactic acid bacteria such as lactobacillus, lactococcus, and leuconostoc. Different range of Lactobacilli strains results in cultured milk of different tastes. As years gone by, more research were done on different types of bacteria which can be used in cultured milk.

Probiotics are supplements or enhanced foods that contain living microorganisms, such as yogurt with lactobacillus, that change the bacterial balance in the human body. The bacteria used in cultured milk drinks are probiotics. Naturally, our intestine has bacteria in it to help digest food. Probiotics have the potential to replenish natural intestinal flora (condition) of the body, and competitively inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria. Breastmilk is the best food for babies, besides the extravagant range of nutrients, contains substances that stimulates the growth of bifidobacteria in the small intestine of infants.

The gastrointestinal flora plays a complex and important role in the development of healthy immunologic and digestive function in children. Probiotics are safe in healthy children and effective in reducing the risk of antibiotic-associated diarrhea and the duration of acute infectious diarrhea. Probiotics may also be effective in preventing community-acquired diarrheal infections, in reducing the risk of necrotizing enterocolitis in premature infants, and in the prevention and treatment of atopic dermatitis. Adding probiotics or prebiotics to children’s diets may have some potential in treating viral diarrhea and preventing antibiotic-associated diarrhea, but they should not be given to children who are chronically or seriously ill or who have compromised immune systems.

In summary, why do we need good bacteria in our body?   

  1. Restores healthy balance of flora to the intestine.
  2. Improve lactose digestion. More tolerated by people who cannot drink milk.
  3. Increase absorption of iron.
  4. Treating acute gastroenteritis in healthy children
  5. Lower the PH value (Making Intestine sour which helps relieve constipation)

Some cultured milk in the market claimed to be packed with 50 per cent more calcium, has vitamin D for calcium absorption, and has no artificial colours or flavours.  Calcium is a vital nutrient for strong bones and teeth. Cultured milk drink contains both natural and added sugar, milk and bacteria. Sugar is needed in cultured milk drink to ferment the bacteria. Different brands differ in the types of bacteria strain used.

However, it is not advisable to replace milk intake with cultured milk drink. This is because there are a lot more nutrients in the milk for your child, compared to the cultured milk drink. If he or she doesn’t like to take milk, we can make milkshakes for your child by blending milk and fruits together, or make puddings with milk, or even add milk into starchy foods such as potatoes, carrots and pumpkins. This includes your breastmilk.

Having said that, a bottle of cultured milk drink a day for your child would be the most ideal. Too much of sugar will lead to hyperactivity in child and reduces their appetite for more nutritious food.

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References:

  1. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations; World Health Organization. Guidelines for the evaluation of probiotics in food: joint FAO/WHO Working Group report on drafting guidelines for the evaluation of probiotics in food. Available at: ftp://ftp.fao.org/es/esn/food/wgreport2. pdf.
  2. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations; World Health Organization. Health and nutritional properties of probiotics in food including powder milk with live lactic acid bacteria: report of a joint FAO/WHO expert consultation on evaluation of health and nutritional properties of probiotics in food including powder milk with live lactic acid bacteria. Available at: who.int/foodsafety/publications/fs_ management/en/probiotics.pdf.
  3. Probiotics and Prebiotics in Pediatrics. Dan W. Thomas, Frank R. Greer and Committee on Nutrition; Section on Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition. Pediatrics 2010 (126); 1217-1231

 

(written by Ms Kimberly Wong, Nutritionist)

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