The research on the good bacteria in the gut has helped us understand how to prevent and treat gut related issues. Most people take a probiotic or give one to their child when they have been on an antibiotic or if there is a digestive issue. So let’s start there. Which probiotic should you take after a round of antibiotics? What probiotic strains help to treat reflux, colic, diarrhea and constipation?
Post Antibiotic Treatment:
Did you know that it takes up to 2 years for the gut to heal after each antibiotic?
Picking your product: Probiotics are not all created equal. When you look at a bottle of probiotics, check the information in brackets beside the strain name. For example, Lactobacillus Acidophilus is a well-known strain but, without using a strain that hasn’t been researched, may be a huge waste of money. Unfortunately, Health Canada is not able to differentiate between a product that CLAIMS benefit based on research vs. a product that has RESEARCH to back up its clinical benefit.
Does age matter? While children have to be 16 years old to get their driver’s license, their intestines need only reach the age of 24 months before they can take an adult probiotic. Our intestines are “adult” at the age of 2. It is really, really, really, really (did I say really?) important to start supplementing with products the day your baby is born if they are delivered via c-section. Babies born via c-section have a different gut flora balance that puts them at risk for allergies, asthma and eczema. Their intestines have higher amounts of Staphloccocus species, E.Coli and Clostridia species. Babies born vaginally pick up mom’s Lactobacillus species as they enter the world. Further population happens during lactation.
It is really, really, really (again with the really’s) important to supplement your baby with probiotics if baby isn’t breastfed. It is also a crucial strategy to supplement probiotics while you are nursing to ensure your baby is getting enough of the good bacteria that helps to promote healthy development.Choose and option like: Kids Kyo-Dophilus, or Childrens Multi Probiotic
Toddlers, Children and Adults Remember that over the age of 2, children’s guts are like adult’s. After 2, your child can take any probiotic that you are on. Use a small dose to start and work up slowly. Remember that if you get diarrhea, cramping or constipation from a probiotic, it is a GOOD THING. It is most likely yeast or other opportunistic microbes being evicted from your precious microbiome that is attempting to achieve a healthier balance. Genestra, Natren, and Metagenics all make great probiotics. Try rotating good brands to increase the number of healthy strains you are introducing. The gut has almost 10,000 strains of good bacteria and more than 100 trillion members of the gut community.
Some bad news with a silver lining: After the age of 2 years old, your gut flora becomes static. The good bacteria you have been living with from birth solidify their long term relationship with your genetic make-up and cannot be changed. So again, please supplement effectively at a very young age and consider visiting a Naturopathic Doctor for a clinically effective protocol. It is good to supplement with probiotics but knowing HOW, WHY, WHAT and WHEN is very valuable. Silver lining is that we now have incredible research showing us how to use probiotics and which strains are the right fit for health concerns. You can safely supplement with probiotics long term to overcome the static microbiome you were born with. It is always better to intervene early but all is not lost if your child is 10 years old and has gut concerns. Find a good probiotic and take it often enough to always have the strains working their magic in the gut. There are over 10,000 unique species of good bacteria in our digestive system. Each of us has a unique number of certain strains that are as unique as a fingerprint. The ecosystem of good bacteria in our bodies is called our microbiome. Researchers have found that they can predict obesity in a newborn by taking a stool sample and testing for certain strains and amounts of good bacteria. We now know that these strains can do everything from help us digest our food to help control our cholesterol and mood. We are not born sterile. We get our mother's bacteria while we are still in her belly. Our mother got bacteria from her mother and so on. We get more exposure to good bacteria through breast feeding and vaginal birth. Studies show that mothers who take probiotics have children with significantly less asthma, allergies and eczema.
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