If you have been following my work for a while you will know that I encourage doing all we can to improve our gut health. Probiotics are generally an easy way to do this. Yes, fermented foods are potentially better but again not everyone is a fan of sauerkraut and kombucha!
Why are probiotics so beneficial? Here is the latest research:
1. Reduces the risk for infantile eczema and dermatitis.1
2. Are safe and effective in treating persistent diarrhoea, acute diarrhea and mild gastroenteritis.2
3. Accelerates gastric emptying and improves regurgitation in infants.3
4. When given to mothers and their babies reduces eczema and may reduce respiratory allergic disease later in life, having a positive effect on the mother and offspring’s immunological status.4
5. Increases the TH1 immune response, which counterbalances the dominant TH2 immune response in allergenic children.5
6. Supplementation of children fed formula reduces adverse events, e.g. antibiotic use, diarrhea, etc.6
7. Prevent IgE-associated allergy until age 5 years in cesarean-delivered children.7
8. Has a positive effect on symptoms of constipation in children.8
9. Reduces the incidence and severity of respiratory diseases during the cold season.9
10. May help with acne due to their involvement in normalizing the gut-brain-skin axis.10
OKAY there are actually 11!
11. Reduces early otitis media, the risk of respiratory infections and antibiotic use during the first year of life.11
As you can see, the balance between good and bad bacteria in our gut is not only responsible for the strength of our digestive system and bowel, but because of the intricate connections between the brain, the gut and the immune system – our bacterial balance is the foundation to our overall health and well being.
So what is it exactly that kills of good or healthy bacteria in our guts?
Well, it’s a wide range of things actually:
• Poor dietary habits,
• Environmental toxins including:
• Chlorine found in water
• Fluoride found in water and other products
• Pesticides and herbicides
• Air pollution
• Household and personal care products
Even if we live a squeaky clean lifestyle these environmental toxins can be hard to avoid completely, so we need to ensure our body has the ability to clear unwanted toxins effectively.
The microorganisms from good bacteria help the elimination of toxins within the body, they also influence our ability to fight off infection and illness, help to regulate our metabolism, hormonal balance, mood and energy. Not having enough of the good gut flora has been linked to diseases such as autism, depression, constipation, bloating and autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease and type 1 diabetes.12
Probiotics and Prebiotics, what’s the difference?
Yes, taking a high quality probiotic is important (one with multiple strains of bacteria and high counts of each is important for general health and wellbeing) but we can also attain probiotics and prebiotics through our diet. Food sources of probiotics include fermented foods such as tempeh, kombucha, miso, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi and yoghurt.
Prebiotics refer to natural soluble fibres that feed the good bacteria in our large intestine, helping to promote balanced gut flora and healthy bowel function. When our good bacteria eat prebiotic fibre, they produce beneficial short chain fatty acids, such as butyrate, which inhibits the growth of disease-causing pathogens and maintains the health of our intestinal lining. Natural prebiotics are found in a variety of plant-based foods, which is another great reason to eat a nourishing whole foods diet. Rich sources of prebiotics include all fresh fruit and vegetables such as kiwi fruit, passion fruit, oranges, pineapple, papaya, leafy greens, broccoli, sweet potato.
Now we know how beneficial probiotics are, how do we get our children to take them? With my boys, the most effective way when they were very little is including probiotics in their food – such as mixing it into a spoonful of yoghurt or into a smoothie. As they grew older I would explain the benefits and importance of probiotics and other supplements. Here is one of the favourite ways Arlo liked his probiotics when he was much littler – in a raspberry! It’s good to be creative.
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Yours in Health,
Dr Jennifer Barham-Floreani
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1. Gerasimov, S.V., Vasjuta, V.V., Myhovych, O.O., & Bondarchuk,L.I. (2010) Probiotic supplement reduces atopic dermatitis in preschool children: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, clinical trial. Am J Clin Dermatol. 11(5):351-61. PMID: 20642296 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20642296
Zhu, D., Yang, W., & Yang, H. (2010, September) Meta analysis of lactic acid bacteria as probiotics for the primary prevention of infantile eczema. Zhongguo Dang Dai Er Ke Za Zhi. 2010 Sep;12(9):734-9. PMID: 20849726http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20849726
2. Aponte, G.B., Mancilla, C.A.B., Pariasca, N.Y.C., & Galarza, R.A.R(2010). Probiotics for treating persistent diarrhoea in children. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 11:CD007401. Epub 2010 Nov 10.PMID: 21069693http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21069693
Rosenfeldt,V., Michaelsen,K.F., Jakobsen,M., Larsen,C.N.. M¯ller,P.L., Tvede,M., Weyrehter,H., Valerius,N.H., & Paerregaard,A. (2002, May) Effect of probiotic Lactobacillus strains on acute diarrhea in a cohort of nonhospitalized children attending day-care centers. Pediatr Infect Dis J. 21(5):417-9. PMID: 12150179 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12150179
Szajewska, H., SkÛrka A., & Dylag M. (2007, February 1) Meta-analysis: Saccharomyces boulardii for treating acute diarrhoea in children. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 25(3):257-64. PMID: 17269987 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17269987
3. Indrio,F., Riezzo,G., Raimondi,F., Bisceglia,M., Filannino,A., Cavallo,L., &Francavilla,R. (2011, April) Lactobacillus reuteri accelerates gastric emptying and improves regurgitation in infants. Eur J Clin Invest. 41(4):417-22. Epub 2010 Nov 26. PMID: 21114493 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21114493
4. Ortiz-Andrellucchi,A., S·nchez-Villegas,A., RodrÌguez-Gallego,C., Lemes,A., Molero,T., Soria,A., PeÒa-Quintana,L., Santana,M., RamÌrez, O., GarcÌa,J., Cabrera,F., Cobo,J.,Serra-Majem, L.(2008, October) Immunomodulatory effects of the intake of fermented milk with Lactobacillus casei DN114001 in lactating mothers and their children. Br J Nutr. 100(4):834-45. Epub 2008 Mar 17. PMID: 18341756 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18341756
5. Valsecchi,C., Marseglia,A., Ricci,A., Montagna,L, Leone,M., Marseglia,G.L., & Castellazzi,A.M. (2008) Probiotics and children: is an integration useful in allergic diseases? Pediatr Med Chir. 2008 Jul-Aug;30(4):197-203. PMID: 19216203http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19216203
6. Weizman, Z., Asli, G., & Alsheikh, A. (2005, January) Effect of a probiotic infant formula on infections in child care centers: comparison of two probiotic agents. Pediatrics. 115(1):5-9. PMID: 15629974 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15629974
7. Kuitunen,M., Kukkonen,K., Juntunen-Backman,K., Korpela,R., Poussa,T., Tuure,T., Haahtela,T., & Savilahti,E. (2009, February) Probiotics prevent IgE-associated allergy until age 5 years in cesarean-delivered children but not in the total cohort. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2009 Feb;123(2):335-41. Epub 2009 Jan 8. PMID: 19135235http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19135235
8. Bekkali, N., Bongers, M.E., Van den Berg, M.M., Liem, O., & Benninga, M.A. (2007) The role of a probiotics mixture in the treatment of childhood constipation: a pilot study. Nutr J. 2007;6:17. Epub 2007 Aug 4. PMID: 17683583 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17683583
9. Bowe,W.P. & Logan,A.C. (2011) Acne vulgaris, probiotics and the gut-brain-skin axis – back to the future? Gut Pathog. 3(1):1. Epub 2011 Jan 31. PMID: 21281494http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21281494
Fabrizio Pregliasco, F., Anselmi, G., Fonte,L., Giussani, F., Schieppati, S., & Soletti, L. (2008, May) A new chance of preventing winter diseases by the administration of synbiotic formulations. Carcinogenesis. 29(5):1049-56. Epub 2008 Mar 20. PMID: 18685511http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18685511
10. Rautava,S., Salminen,S., & Isolauri,E. (2009, June) Specific probiotics in reducing the risk of acute infections in infancy–a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Br J Nutr. 101(11):1722-6. Epub 2008 Nov 6. PMID: 18986600 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18986600
11. Kukkonen,K., Savilahti,E., Haahtela,T., Juntunen-Backman,K., Korpela,R., Poussa,T., Tuure,T., Kuitunen,M. (2008, July) Long-term safety and impact on infection rates of postnatal probiotic and prebiotic (synbiotic) treatment: randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Pediatrics. 122(1):8-12. PMID: 18595980http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18595980