Probiotics are one of the latest health crazes and manufacturers are more than happy to cash in on the consumer trend. You can find “healthy probiotics” labeling on more than yogurt; this marketing strategy is appearing on products like relish and even pizza?
Unfortunately for us, many of these products won’t give you the health benefits they claim. Of the hundreds of probiotic products in the supermarket today, only “15-20 have clinical studies behind them,” says a microbiology professor from Lawson Research Institute.
Probiotics marketing giant Dannon yogurts continue investing $100 millions in the advertising campaigns. The company is ultimately losing; Dannon has now paid $35 million to a class-action lawsuit and $100 to regular consumers, from charges of deceptive marketing, false advertising and making unsubstantiated health claims. The lesson here is to be an informed consumer!
So what are probiotics…?
Probiotics refers to the “friendly” flora living in our digestive tracts that help us to break down our foods and gain nutrition from them. These bacteria, yeasts and molds make up 70%-85% of our immune system.
There is no uniform definition of probiotics as of yet, but the World Health Organization and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations refer to probiotics as “live microorganisms, which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host.”
The original practice of probiotics was for food preservation before the use of refrigeration and thus the use of “friendly” flora emerged. The practice was sustained by the healthy by-product-benefits they conferred.
Why would I give probiotics to my children…?
Probiotics have been shown to have great health benefits for kids especially:
- Immune Support
- Support for Growing Bones
- Digestive Health
- Mental and Physical Energy
- Eye Health
So it sounds like probiotics are healthful: Why not give your kids a daily supplement? In general probiotics are considered safe for children a high doses of 1 billion to 10 billion colony-forming units are needed, depending on the strain you are using. It’s especially important for kids who are taking an antibiotic for ear infections or other infections to be supplementing with probiotics because every time they are given an antibiotic it kills the healthy bacteria in their gut. Excessive use of antibiotics can lead to: antibiotic-resistant bacteria’s, repeat infections, asthma, allergies, eczema and other rashes While probiotics can help replenish this essential bacteria and prevent these conditions.
What is the best source of probiotics for children…? Your child’s body is designed to recognize and utilize nutrients best when they come from food. To give your child an extra boost in healthy bacteria a good source is: Fermented foods contain healthful bacteria: Kombucha Tea, sour cream, buttermilk, sauerkraut, pickles, and many yogurts. It’s important when shopping for food sources of probiotics you choose non=pasteurized products. Pasteurization has eliminated the flora found in modern food to preserve it longer and losing the healthful benefits. As a result, companies are fortifying foods with probiotics in an effort to re-introduce these bacteria. These companies claim their products offer a range of health benefits, but only some of the claims are based on reputable science, like discussed earlier with Dannon. Also, parents should consider the full list of ingredients in these inoculated foods–for example, are they loaded with fructose syrup?
In general for health of your children seek to incorporate foods with natural probiotics. If your child is suffering from intestinal problems: diarrhea, constipation, leaky gut, spectrum-disorders, autoimmune diseases, skin irritations/rashes, asthma or allergies a supplement is recommended. Quality supplements I have recommended to my patients include: ABX probiotics from Klaire Labs, Kids’ Multivitamin Code- Garden of life, Cytoflora from Bioray.
Healthy digestion makes for a Happy child!