Probiotics are not new but the fanfare that they are receiving in the media makes it seem that way. Emerging research shows that probiotics are indicated in treating everything from depression to obesity. For children, probiotics may be even more vital. As most of us know, children tend to have less than favourable hygiene habits and supporting their immune systems with probiotics is important. They also tend to have less than ideal diets so supporting their digestive health is critical. What most of us don’t know is that a child’s bacterial balance is established at birth and can be one of the biggest determiners of their future health.
Let’s get technical:
While there are hundreds of different strains of bacteria that live in the digestive tract, some strains are more prevalent in children including; Bifidobacterium longum, Bifidobacterium breve, Bifidobacterium infantis, Bifidobacterium bifidum & Lactobacillus acidophilus.
These bacteria (as well as others) are normal inhabitants of the large and small intestines and are an important part of a healthy digestive system. However, the type and amount of bacteria in each child is dependent on which bacteria they acquired as infants. The intestinal system of a fetus is actually sterile; with no bacteria present. It is during a vaginal delivery that the baby is introduced to numerous strains of bacteria. Vaginally born infants have over 1000 completely colonized intestinal bacteria species by the end of their first year. Cesarean born infants are not introduced to the same type or amount of bacteria as vaginal born infants. Research has shown those born via c-section have lower numbers of bifidobacteria & bacteroides, as well as more C difficile (a pathogenic bacterium) than vaginally born infants.
Research has also shown that breastfed infants initially establish a different bacterial composition than formula fed infants. The prebiotic oligosaccharide (found in breast milk) is what feeds healthy intestinal bacteria. By providing gut bacteria with the food they require, they are able to colonize. Exclusively formulafed infants are more often colonized with E coli, C difficile, Bacteroides, and lactobacilli, compared with breastfed infants who have higher counts of bifidobacteria. Children born via C-section and those who have not been breast fed are not the only children who can have an imbalance of gut bacteria. Probiotics can also be impaired through stress, illness, antibiotics treatment, or changes to the diet. Thankfully they can also be brought back into balance through the introduction of the right balance of supplemental probiotics.
Ultimate Flora Kids Probiotic delivers 10 billion beneficial bacteria from 9 specially selected strains that are prevalent in a child’s digestive tract. Easy to take, these chewable tablets taste great and are sugar-free. They are appropriate for children 3 years of age or older (for babies and toddlers, choose FloraBABY powder). This formula contains high amounts of bidifobacteria which is often overlooked in other formulas. These include:
One of the main strains of bacteria of the colon in infants and children. It is important for the production of B vitamins. It is also particularly good at enhancing the body’s immune response and inhibiting harmful bacteria.
A main inhabitant in the intestines of infants, particularly in those who have been breastfed. Research has shown infantis has the most anti-inflammatory profile of all of the probiotics, and has strong immune enhancing potential.
This probiotic is highest in those who have been breastfed. It is effective in increasing stool frequency in children with functional constipation. It also has a positive effect on stool consistency, decreasing the number of fecal incontinence episodes and in diminishing abdominal pain.
Bifidobacterium longum is the most frequently found species in healthy breast fed infants. It helps in the formation of lactic acid along with small amounts of formic acid. These acids lower the PH of the intestines, thereby making the region undesirable for harmful bacteria. It is also a substantial producer of B vitamins.
Ultimate Flora Kids Probiotic also contains a therapeutic dosage of Lactobacillus bacteria which has been shown to help alleviate allergies and skin conditions like eczema and dermatitis. Formulated by Renew Life, a company that specializes in digestive health, this product will improve your child’s health from the inside out.