By Helen Sanders
By now, we’ve all heard about probiotics. Often referred to as “good bacteria,” probiotics are live bacteria which confer a myriad of health benefits when consumed. They are commonly found in yogurt, milk and cheese (but, you can find them in other foods, as well).
Although we already have trillions of bacteria within our guts, the balance sometimes gets thrown off by the foods we eat, antibiotics and certain illnesses. Babies born by C-section also miss out on good microbes, which are usually passed on from the mother during birth. Probiotics can help to restore a good microbiota balance.
There has been much research surrounding the consumption of probiotics, both for children and adults. Most studies conclude that probiotics can do no harm during or after pregnancy and many suggest potential benefits for babies and children.
So, should we give our children probiotic supplements?
As a parent, you know how picky kids can be when it comes to food. Maybe your child doesn’t like yogurt or other probiotic-rich foods. In this case, a supplement would be a good idea. The great thing about probiotic supplements is that they come in a tasteless powder form (so you can add it to water, a smoothie or applesauce), capsule form and flavored gummy form (which kids love).
Probiotic supplements are also a great option for kids who are lactose intolerant. Not only are the supplements easy on their stomachs, being dairy-free, but some types may even help to reduce symptoms of lactose intolerance.
If you decide to give your child probiotic supplements, pay attention to the strain and dosage contained within them. It’s always best to do your own research and remember to speak with your child’s doctor before giving them any supplements.
What are the health benefits of probiotic supplements for kids?
Probiotics improve immune system functioning
Every parent hates seeing their infant sick. The good news is that probiotics can boost immunity by preventing “bad bacteria” from multiplying and increasing the body’s T -cells (a main line of defense against infections). Studies show that people who consumed probiotics are less likely to contract respiratory and GI infections. This potentially equates to benefits for your little one.