Why Probiotics Are Important for Developing Kids’ Bodies

If you’re a parent, you know the challenges of getting your child to eat the right foods. It’s one thing at home to get him or her to eat healthy foods, but it’s a whole different situation once he goes to school or eats at a friend’s house.

The power of the media profoundly influences your child’s tastes and preferences – and it’s not sending the message you want. A 2015 study found that fast food commercials on TV featuring toy giveaways led children to ask their parents to take them to the restaurants. And the more often the children viewed these commercials, the more frequently they ate fast food! Today, over a third of U.S. kids each day eat the equivalent of a fast food small hamburger.

Fast food is just one of many things that can harm your child’s gut flora. Foods purchased at fast food restaurants tend to contain unhealthy fats, sugar, and bioengineered ingredients. Meats are typically sourced from factory farms and can contain residues from the antibiotics and bioengineered grains fed to the animal. These can have an adverse effect on your child’s beneficial gut bacteria and support pathogenic bacteria.

Your Healthy Child: Why Your Own Gut Flora Must Come First

Your child is born with a unique set of gut flora – their personal microbiome. The quality and diversity of the bacteria, both “good” or beneficial and less-than-beneficial or “bad,” are largely determined by mom’s microflora. A fetus gets his or her gut bacteria from mom during gestation, delivery, and through skin contact and breast feeding.

A mom’s gut flora is influenced by many factors, including the father’s microbiome. And either parent’s gut flora can be adversely affected by a number of things, such as processed or sugary foods, processed foods with bioengineered ingredients, pollution, antibiotics, over-the-counter heartburn pills, pesticides in foods, chlorinated and fluoridated water, and even stress.

Ideally, when planning children, consider the health of your own gut flora first. Encourage your spouse or partner to do the same. That’s the best insurance you can give your baby for a healthy, diversified microbiome.

One simple step you can take is to introduce fermented vegetables into your daily diet. This popular, detailed recipe shows you how to prepare them inexpensively at home. Eating a serving or more of properly prepared fermented vegetables offers important benefits for your gut flora and for that of your unborn child.

Another powerful way to help restore your own beneficial gut flora is to consume raw organic grass fed yogurt or kefir (not commercial yogurt or kefir from the grocery store, which is pasteurized and can contain high amounts of sugar). Ideally, make your own at home with raw organic milk.

The easiest, and perhaps most reliable, way to maximize your beneficial gut microbes is to take a high-quality probiotic supplement each day. I recommend this for most individuals, especially prospective parents. My Complete Probiotics contains 10 strains of beneficial bacteria in very high numbers for optimal benefits.

Probiotics Strains Acid Tolerance Bile Tolerance
Lactobacillus acidophilus ++++
(>90% survival in HCL and pepsin (1%) at pH3 for 1 h at 37C )
++++
(>90% survival in 0.3% in bile salt containing medium)
Lactobacillus plantarum ++++
(>90% survival in HCL and pepsin (1%) at pH3 for 1 h at 37C )
++++
(>90% survival in 0.3% in bile salt containing medium)
Lactobacillus casei ++++
(>90% survival in HCL and pepsin (1%) at pH3 for 1 h at 37C )
++++
(>90% survival in 0.3% in bile salt containing medium)
Bifidobacterium lactis ++++
(>90% survival in HCL and pepsin (1%) at pH3 for 1 h at 37C )
>++++
(>90% survival in 0.3% in bile salt containing medium)
Bifidobacterium bifidum ++++++ ++++
Lactobacillus rhamnosus +++
(>70% survival in HCL and pepsin (1%) at pH3 for 1 h at 37C )
++++
(>80% survival in 0.3% in bile salt containing medium)
Lactobacillus salivarius +++
(>70% survival in HCL and pepsin (1%) at pH3 for 1 h at 37C )
++++
(>80% survival in 0.3% in bile salt containing medium)
Bifidobacterium longum +++
(>70% survival in HCL and pepsin (1%) at pH3 for 1 h at 37C
++++
(>80% survival in 0.3% in bile salt containing medium)
Streptococcus thermophilus +
(>60% survival in HCL and pepsin (1%) at pH3 for 1 h at 37C )
++++
(>90% survival in 0.3% in bile salt containing medium)
Lactobacillus brevis ++++++ ++++
Legend:
++++
Excellent
+++
Very Good
++
Good
+
Fair

Why Probiotics Are Important for Kids Too

When talking about gut bacteria, it’s the balance that matters most. A healthy balance is 85 percent beneficial to 15 percent “other” or less beneficial bacteria. Anything you can do to support the levels of good microbes in your child’s gut will help keep the other bacteria under control. This is why many parents today are turning to high-quality probiotic supplements for children.

child eating heathy food

Eighty percent of your child’s immune system resides in his or her gut, so the balance of gastrointestinal flora plays a large role in immune function. This is particularly important for your baby’s health as she grows and her immature immune system becomes “tested” by pathogenic bacteria and viruses, and potential allergens.*

A newborn’s gut lining is permeable and can allow “foreign” materials to pass through into the bloodstream, increasing the potential for an allergic response. When a baby is breastfed, mom’s first milk or colostrum helps form a protective barrier on this mucosal lining. This protective barrier also serves as a breeding ground for beneficial microbes that help provide additional reinforcement.

When you give your baby or child additional probiotics, you’re helping to support that protective barrier against “foreign invaders.” Probiotics, when given to your infant or child, help build a healthy microflora and promote a healthy normal allergic response to potential allergens.*   

Researchers have also discovered the role that beneficial bacteria play in the activity of your genes. Probiotics direct the activity of hundreds of genes, which in turn, influence the messages sent to your cells. Beneficial bacteria can actually turn genes on or off!

Benefits of Probiotics for Children

Active lifestyle for kids

Many parents are aware of the potential benefits probiotics can offer for their child’s immune health. But they may not be aware of all these other important roles that probiotics and a healthy gut flora play in their child’s health:

  • Influences your child’s metabolism and weight by promoting the growth and survival of good, beneficial bacteria. Having a healthy balance of gut microbes may be important for your child’s weight management throughout life, according to research.*
  • May help reduce potential adverse side effects from childhood vaccinations, if you choose to vaccinate, according to recent research.*
  • Supports brain health during growth and development. Because there’s a close connection between your child’s gut and brain, the gut is often called the “second brain.”*
  • Helps digest food and produce certain nutrients that your child’s body needs.*
  • Helps support urinary tract health and vaginal health (in girls) by helping to maintain healthy bacteria populations.*

For infants and children, beneficial bacteria may be key to intestinal comfort. Studies show that babies who have an abundance of beneficial bacteria or receive probiotics tend to experience less gas, colic, and reflux, and have more regular elimination.*

Probiotics for Kids: How to Get Started on the Pathway to Health

Happy family

It’s ideal to start probiotics as early as possible to help promote a healthy balance of beneficial bacteria. The sooner you can help correct a less-than-optimal microbiome and support the growth of beneficial microbes, the better.

If your infant or child must receive antibiotics, give probiotics before and after treatment. Most antibiotics indiscriminately kill microbes – both pathogenic and beneficial. A high-quality probiotic designed for children can help minimize the damage to healthy beneficial gut microbes. Always consult with your child’s healthcare provider when using probiotics if your child requires special medical attention.

Especially if your child is very young or ill, you want to start slowly with introducing probiotics. Many cultures around the world routinely give their young probiotic foods early in life. Feeding small amounts of juice from homemade fermented vegetables or kefir diluted with water or breast milk can be an easy way to get started.

Feeding your baby one or more spoonfuls of the vegetable juice will provide benefits and help get her used to the taste at an early age. Establishing the habit of consuming probiotic-rich fermented vegetables or homemade raw milk kefir early on is ideal. 

Researchers are discovering how important an organic whole food diet is for a healthy microbiome. Recent research reveals that leafy green vegetables contain a certain kind of sugar that actually feeds beneficial gut bacteria, which in turn help crowd out more harmful microbes. All the more reason to prepare and encourage your child (and yourself) to eat leafy greens!

What Types of Probiotics Are Best for Children?

Healthy kid

When choosing a probiotic for children, at a minimum, look for Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli bacteria strains. Lactobacilli are a component of your child’s intestinal microflora. Human strains of these bacilli are preferable because of their natural occurrence, long-term safety record for infants and children, and adaptability to their ecosystem.

You want more than one or two strains in any probiotic supplement you choose. Multiple strains are preferable for optimal benefits.

Another option for probiotics is to feed a probiotic supplement, formulated especially for children. My Probiotic Packs for Kids provide a child’s dose of 10 different strains of beneficial bacteria, including Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli.

When choosing a probiotic for your child or infant, always look for one that contains both acid- and bile-resistant strains of good bacteria so they can survive the stomach’s hostile environment and reach your child’s intestine where they provide the majority of their benefits.

To help the probiotics thrive while they settle into your child’s digestive tract, make sure the probiotic supplement provides valuable prebiotics. My Probiotic Packs for Kids provide prebiotics in the form of Fructooligosaccharide (FOS).

Making sure your child receives the probiotics he needs is a valuable investment in his present and future health. You’re providing support in numerous ways, benefits that begin while they’re young and stay with them into adulthood. Giving them a high-quality probiotic supplement like Probiotic Packs for Kids can be a small yet powerful step to make a significant difference in your child’s well-being. And don’t forget to take Complete Probiotics, so you can ensure your own gut health as well!*