Did you know that trillions of bacteria populate your child's gastrointestinal (GI) tract? All of that flora is critical to how it functions. They also keep the rest of the body functioning properly, since every system in the body relies on the gastrointestinal system for nutritional support. It's also a vital part of the immune system. Of course, not all of these microbes are beneficial. Some are benign and others are harmful - particularly when they grow out of control.
As your child grows and develops, so do the bacterial colonies. By the time she's in school, her bacteria will be facing new challenges: the stress of learning, new foods, and especially exposure to new environments and new people. It's those crowds of new people who might pose the largest challenge to your child's intestinal flora. As germs spread and antibiotics are prescribed, those good bacteria take a hit.
The good as well as the bad. Unfortunately, the bad bacteria are stronger and quicker growers than the good bacteria and, just like weeds in a freshly tilled garden, will quickly take over if given the opportunity. Studies have shown that 20-30% of children develop diarrhoea after taking antibiotics - probably because of the depletion of their good intestinal flora.
In order to keep a healthy balance of good bacteria, it's important to support them in rebuilding a strong population. That's where probiotics can help out. Probiotics contain massive quantities of the good bacteria your child's body needs in order to keep those bad microbes in check. By overwhelming the bad kinds, the good flora can starve them to the point where they can't do harm.
Unfortunately, you can't just add probiotics to your child's diet once and expect that to be enough. Even the most massive doses of probiotics can't fight indefinitely. They need a constant stream of reinforcements in order to win the battle against the bad microbes.
Many foods contain live bacteria:
- aged cheeses such as gouda, Swiss, and cheddar
- natural apple cider vinegar
- pickles of all sorts
- sourdough bread
- microalgae (chorella, spirulina, and blue-green algae)
However, it's difficult to get enough live bacteria from diet alone. This is especially true for children with their tiny tummies. That's where a probiotic supplement especially formulated for children can help.
Of course, it doesn't hurt to encourage your child to also eat a wide variety of healthy, probiotic rich foods. She should also eat high-fibre foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. These foods contain indigestible carbohydrates called prebiotics that help promote the probiotics' growth and enhance their survivability.
Especially good natural sources of prebiotics include:
- natural maple syrup
- whole-meal bread
Scientists believe the pectin in apples also help ensure a supportive environment for beneficial bacteria. Your child will need to eat apples or naturally processed apple products like juice and applesauce regularly to experience the benefits.
Benefit of a diet rich in prebiotics and probiotics
- Boosts the immune system and helps ward off infections
- Reduces the harmful bacteria population in the GI tract
- Improves and strengthens the essential lining of the intestines
- Increases production of B vitamins
- Produces vitamin K
- May help prevent allergies and asthma
- Protects against antibiotic-associated diarrhoea (Lactobacillus GG)
- May help protect against eczema
- Lowers intestinal pH, creating an environment that's less hospitable to bad bacteria
Interested in learning more about our probiotics for children? Check out Perfect Probiotic For Kids.