While there are many reasons that can cause constipation in children, the commonly consumed formula cows milk is a possible cause of chronic constipation because of its thicker consistency and cows milk protein (CMP) being harder to digest.
Cows milk is an excellent source of Vitamin D, calcium, protein and many other minerals that can support the growth and development of children. It is no doubt the most popular option for parents because of its nutritional content, affordability and availability, especially formula cows milk.
In some cases where one becomes constipated with formula cows milk, it can be due to lactose intolerant or/and cows milk protein allergy (CMPA). A research has shown that reducing the intake of formula cows milk or switching to another plant-based milk has been shown to improve chronic constipation whichever is deemed suitable or needful.
Fermented dairy (milk kefir) differs from the original state of milk in terms of CMP and lactose. It is also a pre-digested food that can be consumed by anyone with digestive and constipation issues.
Protein digestion during fermentation - Proteolysis
Dairy products contains high quality proteins such as casein and whey. These proteins are large and complex in structure which can be hard to digest for certain individuals. During proteolysis by lactic acid bacteria (LAB), big protein structures are being broken down into specific short chains of peptides that increases the digestibility and biological value of the protein.
These peptides that are released are bioactive and possess immunomodulatory, antifungal, antimicrobial, antioxidant and anti-carcinogenic properties. Active oligopeptides digested from casein have been shown to prolong the gastrointestinal reabsorption of nutrients, modulate the transport of amino acids in intestine and act as antidiarrheal agents.
Dietary amino acids are major fuels for the small intestinal mucosa and are essential precursors for intestinal synthesis of glutathione, nitric oxide, polyamines, purine and pyrimidine nucleotides, and amino acids (alanine, citrulline and proline), and are obligatory for maintaining intestinal mucosal mass and integrity.
Bacteriocins, are another group of peptides produced from proteolysis. Its mode of actions includes killing the bacteria (bactericidal) and suppressing the growth of bacteria (bacteriostatic).
Carbohydrate digestion - Lacto-fermentation
As mentioned, lactose intolerance can be a factor of constipation from consumption of cows milk. During fermentation, lactose is being broken down by LAB to produce glucose and galactose. This low level of lactose makes milk kefir an attractive beverage for individuals who are lactose intolerant or become constipated due to lactose.
Milk fats digestion - Lipolysis
Free fatty acids production can increase due to the lipolysis of fats. Dr. Mercola of Mercola.com mentioned that fermented dairy contains high levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which can protect against obesity, atherosclerosis, chronic inflammatory diseases, and cancer.
Vitamins and minerals
Fermented dairy products represent an important contribution of vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B12, niacin pantothenic acid and folic acid, as well as vitamin D, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, zinc and potassium.
The presence of lactic acid and fermentation leads to a higher bioavailability of these micronutrients, increased absorption of calcium, inhibition of pathogenic microbes and stimulation of intestinal secretion.
As of now, we have learnt that kefiran present in milk kefir is a powerful source of prebiotic from our previous blog.
Another source of prebiotics in fermented dairy are galactooligosaccharides, polydextrose and sialyllactose that could significantly improve the absorption and synthesis of B vitamins.
MIlk kefir which contains a large yeast population makes it uniquely health beneficial. Milk kefir made from dairy produces the richest source of probiotics and when it is made from whole cows milk, it is rich in fat-soluble vitamins like Vitamin K2, A, D and E. Fermented dairy like milk kefir contains much more than what the original state of dairy can provide for our bodies. Apart from the rich source of probiotics and prebiotics, many vitamins are made more bioavailable to our body and CMP which can pose an issue to some are broken down into smaller and health-promoting peptides.