• Probiotics are important for your kids

    by Juliana Nahas, MD
    on Aug 20th, 2018

Probiotics are important for your kids


It seems lately, that I am recommending a probiotic supplement to every patient that I see in my clinic, for various reasons, and medical conditions, and although most of the parents have heard of the term, very few are familiar with probiotics and their purpose. So I thought I would share some highlights here, from what I have learned over the last few years.

This is what we now know: Your child may be at risk of low gut probiotics if he or she was born by c/section, was formula fed instead of breastfed, or took even one dose of antibiotics, and he/she will need probiotic supplementation.

If your family eats conventional dairy, meat or eggs, you are getting antibiotics in your diet.

Caffeine damages probiotic bacteria, as do toxic environments, chemicals in skincare products, even topical antibiotics can disturb the gut microbes. Most everyone living on the planet today is deficient in probiotics.

Our health is very dependent on our gut flora: we have trillions of these microorganisms living in our gut and on our skin, keeping things in checks and balances. Studies have shown that more than 99% of our genetic information is microbial. This second genome can influence our health as much as, or greater than, our inherited genes, and it is possible to reshape and cultivate this second genome with every meal we eat, so have hope!


What are probiotics?


Probiotics are live microorganisms, mostly bacteria, and some viruses, fungi and parasites, that help the body to function properly. There are thousands of species of bacteria alone, numbering in the trillions, living throughout the gut, supporting the immune system, reducing inflammation, helping with digestive processes, regulating appetite, maintaining healthy skin, promoting key nutrients like Vitamin B12 and K2, producing serotonin, amino acids and fatty acids, and crowding out the harmful microbes. Probiotics come into our system at birth, when the baby passes through the birth canal. Babies born by c/section do not acquire these microbes at birth, which may account for the higher rates of allergy, asthma, autoimmune problems and a weaker immune system in those children. Mother’s milk is a prebiotic and a probiotic. This continues the colonization process, as does a diet from fresh foods from the soil, and from fermented foods. Today, however, because of the processing of agriculture and sanitation, much of the probiotics are removed from our foods.


So increasing probiotics in your child’s system, the good bacteria, and balancing micro-organisms in his/her body, can have tremendous health benefits including clearing up acne and eczema, improving absorption of minerals and vitamins, aiding in digestion, liver detoxification, weight loss , boosting and supporting immunity and protecting the urinary tract.

5 things you need to do:


1-Introduce sour foods: like apple cider vinegar, pickled or fermented vegetables, which contain certain types of acids that support the probiotic bacteria, like sauerkraut, kimchi or beet kvass.

2-Offer probiotic rich foods: like yogurt, kefir, coconut kefir, goat milk yogurt,

3-Feed the probiotics: probiotics need fermentable fiber to multiply in the gut : chia seeds, flax seed, organic fruits and veggies, like garlic, onion, artichokes, sweet and regular potatoes, especially if cooked then cooled ( this creates resistant starch). Also, shop at local farmer’s market, the soil and dirt on your produce contain soil-based organisms that are probiotics, and good for your gut health.

4-Stay away from antibiotics, and chlorine and fluoride in your drinking water, because they deplete your body of healthy probiotics.

5-Allow babies and children to be licked by dogs and animals, and play outside in the dirt, that way their skin can be colonized by these soil bacteria.


Top 10 probiotic food sources:


1-Sauerkraut/Kimchi/Pickles/Brine-cured olives: particularly a sp. called Lactobacillus plantarum, which builds the gut lining and aids in digestion.  Cabbage, and vegetables have good vitamins too.

2-Miso/Tempeh: a fermented soy, powerful peptide protein that support the gut and probiotics.

3-Yogurt,Kefir,Amasi, Lassi and raw unpasteurized cheese: fermented dairy products, have been around for thousands of years, contain between 10-30 different strains of probiotics ,needs to be full fat, from grass-fed goats or sheep. Coconut kefir is a dairy-free option and makes a great tasting drink.

4-Apple cider vinegar: a raw food, with the mother, is a living culture, has Acetobacter sp., acetic and malic acid, an old time folk remedy, if taken before a meal , 1 tsp-1 tbsp with warm water and a little honey, to increase stomach acid,  boost protein digestion and lower blood sugar.

5-Natto: a Japanese condiment that has the highest amount of probiotics: Bacillus subtilis natto, has vitamin K2, MK7 which are good for the heart and the bones, and Nattokinase, and anti-inflammatory enzyme for the arteries to prevent clotting… The only problem is it has a strong taste and odor and takes some getting used to….

6-Tigernut: a pre-biotic tuber, a whole food, the food for the probiotic bacteria, a source of resistant starch, vitamins and minerals.

7-Kvass: especially beet kvass, increases nitric oxide which helps increase endurance and stamina by improving oxygenation. Popular with athletes, kvass contains Lactobacillus plantarum. Take a swig before each meal.

8-Bacteriophages: a friendly virus that attacks E.coli, found in certain cheeses. Very small doses can increase your own probiotics 7-8 fold w/o bloating or gas because it is not a fiber.

9-Cultured Whey: acts as a pre and probiotic, provides lactic acid, vitamins minerals and hydration, as long as you can tolerate dairy.

10-Bone broth: can grow your probiotics, feed the lining of the gut with important amino acids and minerals, very important for leaky gut.


7 types of friendly bacteria:

Look for these strains when you are shopping for probiotic supplements:

.lactobacillus acidophilus

.lactobacillus bulgarius

.Lactobacillus reuterii

.Streptococcus thermophilus

.Saccharomyces boulardii

.Bifidobacterium bifidum

.Bacillus subtilis


How to pick the best probiotics:

1-Survivability and strain: look for strains that are hardy and will make it to the gut, like Bacillus coagulans, subtilis, clausii, Lactobacillus plantarum, acidophilus, rhamnosus, reuterii, and Saccharomyces boulardii, and Bifidobacterium bifidum, longum, breve, infantis, etc…

Choose a brand of probiotic that has as many strains as possible

2-Brand quality: look for reputable established brands with good customer reviews

Infant probiotics: Klaire Ther-biotic for infants, Jarrow baby’s Jarrow-dophilus, Biogaia infant probiotics

Children’s probiotics: Klaire Ther-biotic complete and Children’s chewables

Meatgenics Ultra Flora Children’s chewables and Synergy powder, metagenics Ultra Flora Spectrum capsules, Orthomolecular Orthobiotic, Florastor kids, Klaire S.boulardii, Designs For Health Probiophage DF, Prescript Assist soil based probiotics and prebiotics, and  Florajen Kids.

3-Prebiotics: high quality probiotics also have prebiotics and other ingredients to support digestion and the growth of the probiotic bacteria.

4-High CFU count: hardy soil based probiotics can have counts in the millions, but most other brands need to be in the billions, preferably greater than 5 billion CFUs. If your child has chronic issues like constipation he/she may need even higher doses.

Babies should get 5-10 billion cfu/day

Children older than 2 yrs should get 10-25 billion cfu/day

5-Living vs dead: live and active cultures are better.

6-Side effects are rare, but can include diarrhea if you take too much too fast. Ask your pediatrician to guide you. Probiotics have been mostly associated with benefits, in scientific studies, and are pretty safe to take if you follow the guidelines given in this article, however feel free to get them naturally in your diet, if you prefer!

Author Juliana Nahas, MD Pediatrician at Covington Pediatrics

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