Most parents out there want the very best for their children. Parents would like to support their child’s health from the very beginning of their life. One of the ways to support their health journey is from the inside out – from their gut health.
Probiotic supplements are an easy addition to your child’s diet. It can significantly boost their gut health and improve their digestion, immune system, skin, and mental health. It also prevents the development of specific allergies. This article answers all the what, why, and how to give your child probiotics.
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are good bacterias that could benefit those who consume them. They already exist in your intestines and stomach; just some may have less, whereas some may have more.
Regardless, having a balanced amount of gut bacteria is crucial. It can bring various health benefits such as your immune system, digestion, skin, mental wellbeing, etc. All these bacterias can also be found in our skin, saliva, and genital area, but a different kind of bacteria, of course.
What Happens To Your Children When They Have Poor Gut Health?
When your kids have an imbalance of good and bad germs in their gut, it will make them more susceptible to infection, illnesses, and poor digestion and bowel movement. For example, after antibiotic treatment (used to kill all bacteria, including the good ones), people often experience constipation, poorer digestion, or diarrhoea. Having poor gut health also leaves an opportunity for harmful bacteria to compete heavily with good bacteria. Hence, doctors recommend consuming probiotics after antibiotic treatment to replenish all the good bacteria lost.
Are Probiotics Safe For Children?
After knowing all the benefits of consuming probiotics, you would probably want to give all this goodness to your child as well. But you’d wonder whether they are safe or not. Fear not; probiotics in the market are well researched and regulated, especially in the Malaysian market.
Probiotics are generally safe for children and babies to consume. But some strains may work better than others and provide specific benefits as well. Adults and children can consume the same probiotics, just with slight dosage differences.
The only time you’d need to exercise caution when giving your child probiotics is if they have a severe illness or a compromised immune system such as SIBO, are under chemotherapy, or recovering from an infection. In this case, you should always speak to your child’s doctor before giving any supplements.
Please check with your paediatrician before giving probiotics to your child if your child is very sick or have underlying complications such as:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Small intestine bacterial overgrowth
- Food insensitivity/allergies (lactose, gluten, etc.)
- Under antibiotics
- Undergoing immunotherapies (e.g., chemotherapy)
Should Probiotics Be Included In Your Kid’s Diet?
You’d think that if your child is active and healthy, they wouldn’t need probiotics. However, Dr Kate Stephens mentions that unless your child lives in a perfect environment, diet, and lifestyle, it won’t hurt to give your child some probiotics and supplements to boost health.
Factors That Could Affect Your Child’s Health
Furthermore, some factors may pose a challenge for your child’s health and the gut microbiome. Factors such as stress from school, homework, high sugar intake, not enough fibre, or a busy lifestyle such as bouncing from tuition to tuition can affect your child’s health mentally and physically. You may think that stress from primary school may not be as significant as “adult’s stress,” but it does not dismiss the fact that it is stressful for them.
Therefore, giving your children probiotics can provide them with that extra support they may need in the hustle and bustle of daily life.
What Are The Benefits For Children To Consume Probiotics?
According to the 2012 National Health Interview Survey, probiotics are the 3rd most popular natural remedy for children in treating gut-related issues such as constipation, indigestion, stomach ache, bloating, and lack of appetite.
Furthermore, studies have also found that it might help in many areas such as:
- Probiotics might help treat inflammatory bowel diseases such as IBS, SIBO, and gastroenteritis. According to the American Family Physician review, it can reduce the risk of developing eczema and allergies in their infant when given during pregnancy.
- According to JAMA Paediatrics, if infants are given probiotics in the first three months of life, it may prevent colic, constipation, and acid reflux.
Of course, the general function of probiotics, such as alleviating constipation, indigestion, and bloating, are found in all probiotics; however, some health benefits may be strain-specific. If your doctor recommends giving your child probiotics, here are some of the strains of probiotics which you can consider:
- Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG® has been proven to increase antibodies as well as reducing allergies and eczema.
- Bifidobacterium lactis BB-12® could significantly improve bowel movement in a week. It works well with Bacillus coagulans Unique-IS2 as well in reducing constipation and straining in children.
- Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM® and Bifidobacterium lactis Bl-04® can help in alleviating runny and stuffy noses and have a less allergic reaction during the pollen season.
- Bifidobacterium longum R175 can reduce intestinal inflammation by reducing the body’s stress level (cortisol) and feeling more relaxed.
Probiotics are not a must but are encouraged to give children an early start to ensure they have the best gut microbiome. It can help relieve constipation, colic, acid reflux, diarrhoea, and other gut-related issues. They are an excellent supplement to boost our immune system and improve our digestive system as well. Some strain-specific probiotics could help to reduce the risk of eczema and allergies in children. If you are interested in starting probiotics for your child, here are some questions you can ask your paediatrician :
- What are the benefits of probiotics for your child?
- How long should you give them to your child before seeing benefits?
- If you don’t see apparent benefits within a certain period, should your child stop taking them?
- What dose should your child use?
- What brand do they recommend?
- Are there any reasons my child should not take probiotics?
Tips on incorporating probiotics in your child’s diet
YourGutt’s instant probiotic powder is convenient and delicious! Taking one sachet a day serves you enough of B. longum R175, prebiotics, and postbiotics to get your child ready to face the day!
Here are some of the ways you can incorporate our probiotic sachets into your daily meals
- Mix them with yoghurt and cereals/oats. Make sure your yoghurt is labelled “contains live and active cultures”.
- Mix them in chocolate milk or smoothies to enhance the flavour and adding probiotics.
- Sprinkle them on top of cupcakes, icing, fresh cream, cakes for the extra flavour and gut boost.
- Sprinkle on top of your breakfast spreads such as chocolate spread, peanut butter, butter, or kaya if you’re feeling adventurous.
- What is Gut Health and How to Improve it
- Ways to Boost Your Immune System During the Pandemic
- What is it?: YourGutt Prebiotic, Probiotic, Postbiotic First in Malaysia & Asia.
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