Probiotics are good bacteria that are naturally found within the body. There a trillions of bacteria in each human being. Some strains are beneficial – aiding in digestion, nutrient absorption, even optimizing immunity. Others bring about disease and infection.
Gut health determines so much more than just what happens in our digestive system. It has an effect on brain health, heart health and even our mood. Studies have shown that probiotics can help treat inflammatory bowel disease, reduce the duration of diarrhea caused by gastroenteritis as well as reduce the duration and severity of respiratory tract infections. Certain probiotic strains have also shown to help skin conditions such as eczema, rosacea and acne.
Is it then a good idea to give probiotic supplements to kids?
It’s important to note that probiotics exist in certain fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, kombucha, miso, kimchi, sauerkraut and more. But if a child does not consume enough of these types of foods regularly, giving her supplemental probiotics may be something to consider.
Additionally, a healthy gut can get thrown off by an unhealthy diet that’s high is sugar and processed foods. Certain medications such as antibiotics can kill off the gut’s beneficial bacteria. Stress, too, can weaken the gut microbiome.
So, what should we look for in a probiotic?
Where kids are concerned, we want something that’s easy for them to take – a tasteless or neutral flavored probiotic that can easily be mixed into their everyday drinks or food.
Live, active strains are also most preferred and these are best found in liquid probiotics.
Lastly, it’s important to remember that different strains of probiotics carry our different functions within the body. Always consult with your pediatrician about which strains your child actually needs and in what dosage.