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 Are Probiotics for Kids Healthy? The Answer is Here

Probiotics have become one of the most popular dietary supplements in the market right now. Probiotics are live bacterias that help with the functioning of our digestive systems. Our body is full of bacteria, some are good bacteria, while others are bad bacteria. When it comes to probiotics, they are often called as good bacteria because they keep our digestive tract healthy. Apart from digestion, these bacteria help the body to defend itself against illness and keep energy levels high. Food items like Yogurt, Buttermilk, cheese, etc. have probiotics in them. But one can also consume them in the supplements form. We always wonder if probiotics for kids are healthy.

Many companies claim that probiotics aid to weight loss and strengthen the immune system. There are more than 70 per cent immune cells present in our intestine; probiotics work rapidly on our immune system and help to reduce inflammation in the body which causes numerous ailments. Several types of bacteria are used as probiotics; two common ones are Lactobacillus and Bifid bacterium. Probiotics are also helpful to cure diarrhoea and constipation, which are common in kids. Probiotics help the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease as well. They also help children who are taking antibiotics for some illness. Antibiotics often cause stomach pain, constipation, or indigestion and probiotics can ease these side effects. But one needs to consult the doctor to understand which probiotics are suitable for the child.

In fact, as per the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, products containing the label of “probiotics” must contain a sufficient number of viable microorganisms to alter the microflora of the individual consuming them and have a beneficial effect.

How Do Probiotics Function? 

The basic function of probiotics is to outnumber and fight the bad bacteria’s in the stomach while preventing them from attacking the gut. It also helps in controlling harmful bacteria, parasites, and yeasts that tend to harm the immune system, thereby, protecting the body against infection.

Why Do Kids Need Probiotics? 

A child’s microbiome is a collection of commensal microorganisms present in the body. It starts to develop when he/she is in the womb and strengthens further during infancy and early childhood. Hence, the use of probiotics synthesise vitamins and shape the development of intestinal defence system. The 80 per cent of your child’s immune system is dependent on his or her gut; hence a good digestive system plays an important role in immune function. Hence, when you give probiotics to your children, it promotes a normal allergic response to potential allergens. Medical conditions like allergies, asthma, and autoimmune diseases disrupt the balance between the good and the bad bacteria. Probiotics help in building up the good bacteria in the child’s gut, thereby, improving the immune system of the child.

Are Probiotics For Kids Healthy?

Probiotics not only keep the immune system healthy, but they are also healthy for kids. Research suggests that a higher density of probiotics in infants reduces their risk of developing allergies, colic, diabetes, and eczema. Here are some benefits of giving probiotics to the children:

1. Good for energy:

Probiotics produce vitamin B12, vitamin K2 and butyrate which help in increasing energy.

2. Good for oral health:

The number of probiotics lozenges and gums are recommended for oral health since they reduce periodontal disease, throat infections, and bad breath, to name a few.

3. Detoxification:

Probiotics help to eliminate waste and toxins from the digestive system. Taking a probiotics supplement each day, or having foods that naturally have probiotics is a simple form of detoxification.

4. Aids child’s metabolism and weight:

According to research, having a healthy gut plays an important role in your child’s weight management and also gives a big boost to the metabolisms.

5. Supports brain growth and development:

A child’s gut and the brain are closely related; hence probiotics not only makes your gut strong also help in the development of a child’s brain.

6. Supports urinary tract health:

Probiotics maintain healthy bacteria populations in the body, thereby, maintaining a healthy urinary tract.

7. Immunity Support: 

More than 70 per cent of your child’s immune system is located in their gut. Therefore, a diet that contains probiotics protects your child’s immune system. The gastrointestinal tract becomes healthier and more capable of fighting common colds and illnesses such as strep throat.    

Apart from this, a study also found that infants and children are 29 per cent less likely to have been prescribed antibiotics if probiotics are added in the daily nutrition.

“Given this finding, potentially one way to reduce the use of antibiotics is to use probiotics on a regular basis,” said Daniel Merenstein, a professor at Georgetown University.  Also according to the World Health Organization (WHO), antibiotic resistance occurred among 500,000 people with suspected bacterial infections across 22 countries. A 2010 review from the CochraneCollaboration concluded that probiotics shorten episodes of acute infectious diarrhoea. It is also said that probiotics help to lower cholesterol, treat ulcers, improve vaginal health, reduce the risk of colon cancer, ease anxiety and depression.  However, probiotics can be given to the kids only if they don’t have any serious chronic illness like cancer. And also not given to children who are on steroids.

When to give probiotics to your children? 

Probiotics should be given to children right from their birth since they are naturally found in breastfed milk. Apart from this, probiotics must be included in the daily diet of the children right from the beginning. Food items like yogurt should be included since they are filled with probiotics. If a supplement is necessary, then one must consult a paediatrician for instruction on the dosage and frequency of probiotics. Probiotics are given to babies from all over the world for a better immune system right from childhood.

Why are probiotics essential for pregnant mothers?

Infants are first introduced to the bacteria when they pass through the vaginal canal during their birth. The gut flora of a child depends on the gut flora of the mother; in fact, the mother passes her gut microbiome to the child. Hence it is quite essential for pregnant mothers to have probiotics rich food. It’s said, probiotics reduce the risk of pregnancy complications like premature birth when consumed in the first and third trimesters. Moreover, it also reduces the preeclampsia risk by 20 per cent- a complication in pregnant women which is related to high blood pressure. Apart from this, the risk of premature delivery is reduced by 11 to 27 per cent. During pregnancy, consumption of probiotics also increases the overall immunity of the baby in the womb. Hence, consuming probiotics throughout pregnancy will have positive effects on both mother and baby.

Problems with probiotics 

While gaining probiotics from food items is the correct way, but at times it is not possible to consume them from food; some people are lactose intolerant and, hence they can’t consume yogurt and other dairy products. Severe food allergies and a gastrointestinal illness make consumption of probiotic-rich foods impossible.

Drawback

There’s also a drawback to thissince probiotics supplements haven’t been through rigorous trials. Hence it is hard to tell the effect of the supplement on your body once you consume it. This problem also makes it difficult to state which dosage is beneficial for consumption!

 

To conclude, probiotics are safe for healthy kids and are not harmful to them, however, short-term side effects like mild gas and bloating can occur. However, kids with chronic illness should not consume probiotics. Parents must make it a point to check with the doctor before starting any probiotics.

Sagar Papneja

For me, health is about sustainable living and consuming environmentally conscious food; I am a vegan.

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