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Prebiotics, Piglets, and Infants?

Industry by Rosemary Tambini on January 29, 2018

Prebiotics, Piglets, and Infants?

Moving right along to BREAKING NEWS about infant formula! A NEW study from the University of Illinois’ Piglet Nutrition and Cognition Lab has examined what effects adding prebiotics to infant formula might have on pigs (medicalnewstoday). Researchers hoped to find an impact on memory and exploratory behavior… and they did!


According to Ryan Dilger, associate professor at University of Illinois in the U.S., “piglets are widely considered a more informative model for human infants than mice and rats; their digestive systems, behavioral responses, and brain development are remarkably similar to [those of] human infants” (deccanchronicle). Therefore, results of piglet tests are expected to be similar to those of baby tests.

The Study

Starting on the second day of life, “piglets were given a cow’s milk-based infant formula supplemented with polydextrose (PDX), a synthetic carbohydrate with prebiotic activity, and galactooligosaccharide (GOS), a naturally occurring prebiotic” (deccanchronicle). At 25 days old, Stephen Fleming, doctoral student at the University of Illinois and lead author of the study, carried out learning, memory, and stress tests on the piglets. After 33 days, brain, blood, and intestinal tissue was collected for analysis. The test for learning and memory gave the piglets the opportunity to play with dog toys (one they had previously seen and one new toy). If the piglets spent more time with the new toy, this suggested that the piglet recognized it as new and preferred it.


Piglets who were fed PDX and GOS spent more time playing with new toys than pigs who did not receive the prebiotic supplements. The preference for a new toy was a sign of healthy brain development, indicating positive development of memory and learning (deccanchronicle). In addition, volatile-fatty acids (VFAs) were examined to possibly make a connection to GUT FLORA. The pigs receiving PDX and GOS did show increased VFAs in their blood, colon, and brain. However, the sought-after stress-related behavior change was not evident (medicalnewstoday).

Prebiotics, Piglets, and Infants?

What this means

Although this study did not unveil a change in behavior, piglets’ memory was in fact improved by prebiotics. Research draws on to discover the influence HUMAN GUT BACTERIA has on brain function—be it a piglet or an infant (medicalnewstoday). It appears that PREBIOTICS have a lot to offer. If more studies prove effective, think of what they could do to babies’ memory skills, aiding in overall brain cognition.

Join the GUT movement

While we keep an eye out for more evidence of their benefits for babies, maybe you want to extend your dietary supplement line! PREBIOTICS would be a great avenue to explore as they have been known to help keep our digestive and gastrointestinal tracts where they should be. There is also an abundance of evidence showing that prebiotics increase absorption of calcium and improve bone mineral density—effects again linked to gut flora (paleoleap).

Flip to the Dr. Oz Show and he is most likely educating his audience on the importance of gut health. Scroll on your Facebook feed and you are bound to stumble upon a gut health article. Skeptics will be skeptics, but there is no denying GUT HEALTH is a HOT TOPIC in the nutrition industry, and it isn’t going anywhere any time soon!

Makers Nutrition is happy to help get your product on the market in a matter of days! From label design to fulfillment, we have got you covered. Give us a call today at 1-844-625-3771 or visit us at to request a quote!


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