The Benefits and Potential Side Effects of Probiotics in Kids

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that are similar to the microbiome found inside the gut. Human beings have about 100 trillion microorganisms in their gut with a combined weight of about one kilogram or 2.2 pounds. Good bacteria exist in some foods such as yogurts and are also available as capsules, tablets, sachets and sprays.

Why do your kids need probiotics?

Healthy organisms help in vital processes that are beneficial to the overall health of your children. Some of the health benefits of probiotics include:

  • Strengthening the barrier against harmful substances
  • Enhancing the mechanism of action of the immune system
  • Decreasing inflammation
  • Promote digestion and absorption of nutrients in the small intestines.

There are several factors that can influence and potentially harm the balance of the gut microbiome. These factors include medications, especially antibiotics, too much alcohol, stress, poor sleep or disease.  Harm to the microbiome can cause the good bacteria that work well within the gut to reduce in number, allowing more bad bacteria to take over. In addition, harmful bacteria are linked with several conditions such as obesity, heart disease, allergies and cancer.

What conditions do probiotics treat?

  • It is well established that taking probiotics while on antibiotics can prevent any associated diarrhea in your kids.
  • For nasty infections such as Clostridium Difficile Diarrhea and Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are effective options.
  • Coughs and colds for toddlers in preschool and nursery lactic acid bacteria can help provide relief.
  • For Infantile colic, although probiotics cannot stop it, they can reduce the crying time.

Probiotics go beyond digestive issues

Giving your kids probiotic supplements is also beneficial for their immune health. Any dysbiosis or microbial imbalance in the gut can cause your children’s digestive health to suffer, and then their immunity will go down; the risk of them catching infections or colds is much higher. In addition, it is essential for pregnant women to receive probiotics and for newborns to be born through vaginal delivery, or else they are not exposed to the good bacteria.

Other than supplements, there are other ways to introduce healthy bacteria in your body, for example, taking yogurt, Kefir Kimchi or Sauerkraut. However, because parents do not give their children enough of all of these, that is why supplements are a more accessible and more effective option when trying to maintain the gut health of your kids.

Things to look for in a good supplement

If you visit the grocery store and go to the probiotics supplements section, you can go crazy trying to figure out which one to take.

  • It has to have at least three to five billion colony forming units (CFUs)
  • Multiple different strains of bacteria, at least five: The more, the better.

The new generation of probiotics with acid protection technology are improved supplements to consider: Because these are live bacteria, they have to bypass the stomach. A lot of times, the acid kills them. The latest probiotics also include a prebiotic, a fiber that serves as food or fuel to the bacteria. On the shelf, the prebiotics feed the bacteria; When ingested, they also feed the bacteria in the gut. 

Potential cons of probiotics

There are a few reasons why your kids may not tolerate probiotics. However, only a tiny percentage of people experience adverse reactions to the supplements. Some concerns to worry about include:

  • Unpleasant digestive symptoms such as a temporary increase in gas and bloating
  • Constipation
  • Increased thirst.

However, after a few weeks of continued use, the symptoms eventually subside.  To ensure that your kids do not get side effects to minimize the severity, if any, start them on a low dose and gradually increase the dosage to help their bodies adjust before giving them the full dosage.

Biogenic amines found in some probiotic-rich foods can sometimes stimulate the brain’s central nervous system, resulting in an increase or decrease in blood flow which can cause headaches. Keep a food diary to track the foods your children consume. If you notice that fermented products are causing headaches in your kids, you can opt for supplements. A classic example is a probiotic like Sproutedbiome, which is explicitly designed to modulate gut health in kids.

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