Probiotics: A Lifesaver

Do your or your children suffer from allergies, tummy issue, or weight gain?  Before you rush to surgeries or pills with nasty side effects, consider probiotics.  A probiotic is simply a substance that adds to and encourages the growth of good bacteria in your gut or intestine.  The gut is responsible for up to 80% of our immunity and plays a huge role in how we digest and metabolize or use the foods we consume.  Unfortunately, the overuse of antibiotics, especially during childhood, as well as consumption of foods that are high in sugar and fat has disrupted this bacterial system for many of us and presents  problems for our bodies that manifest in ways including allergies, obesity, and gastrointestinal issues.  We can protect and encourage the health of our gut through ingesting probiotics and foods that support a healthy gut.

Probiotic rich foods such as beans, blueberries, broccoli, and bananas are just a few foods that encourage a healthy functioning gut.  Probiotics, or microorganisms, can be ingested from fermented foods such as yogurt, buttermilk, sauerkraut, soy sauce, and pickled foods or taken in pill form to replenish your gut with good bacteria.

Increased consumption of probiotics have been shown to aid in a number of issues from obesity to allergies. By strengthening the immune system response, probiotics are gaining importance in treatments of high cholesterol, skin conditions such as dermatitis and eczema as well as gastrointestinal disorders such as IBS and other allergies  (Shovna & Prajapati, 2013, p. 255).    Lactobacillus GG in toddlers has reduced the incidence of milk allergy as well as lessened both the amount and severity of allergy related eczema (Vanderhood & Young, 2002, p. 957).  This is possibly due to the immune enhancing benefits of this probiotic and its ability to change the body’s response to the allergy from an allergic to pathogen response (p. 957). Evidence also shows probiotics can alter the composition of gut microbiota and affect food intake and appetite, body weight and composition, and metabolic function in children and adults who struggle with weight (Kobyliak et al., 2016, p. 5)

When choosing a probiotic supplement for you and/or your family, consider the stains it contains.  Children’s products may aim for 3-5 different strains while adults typically want 10 or more strains.  For CFU’s or colony forming units which are the bacteria that will end up in your gut kids need 5000 or more while adults may want  a product with at least 30,000.  Finally, find a brand that lists an expiration date on their package and is certified by an independent third party as probiotics are not regulated by the FDA.  Here are some top rated children’s brands that have been independently tested.  Labdoor is also a great way to research independently tested brands of probiotics for adults as well as other supplements you may be considering.  Be sure to consult with your child’s pediatrician and your doctor before beginning any new regimen.  Cheers to a healthy gut!

Resources:

Vanderhood, J. A., & Young, R. J. (2002).  Probiotics in pediatrics.  American Academy of Pediatrics, 955-957.

Shovna, Senan, S., & Prajapati, J. B. (2013). FOOD ALLERGY: ITS CONTROL BY PROBIOTIC- A REVIEW. Asian Journal Of Dairy & Food Research, 32(4), 251-256.

Kobyliak, N., Conte, C., Cammarota, G., Haley, A. P., Styriak, I., Gaspar, L., & … Kruzliak, P. (2016). Probiotics in prevention and treatment of obesity: a critical view. Nutrition & Metabolism, 13(14), 1-13.

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