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Will Probiotics Restore Good Bacteria for Kids?

Posted Mar 07 2013 11:41am

Do you think the rise in asthma , allergies , eczema  celiac , and other autoimmune disorders can be blamed on the lack of good bacteria in your gut?  Some are speculating that our ultra-clean and sterilized environment might be to blame for disrupting the balance of good vs. bad bacteria our bodies are host to.  While sanitizing, pasteurizing, washing our produce, and sterilizing everything we touch has done wonders to keep us from passing and acquiring many fatal infections and diseases, it may be harming our immune system in the process.

Our bodies are host to over 100 Trillion bacteria (about 5lbs worth!). We each develop a specific bacteria community, that is altered and changed for bad or good by a number of things.  Taking antibiotics, stress, the food you eat and even the dirt you ate as a child,will have an impact of what type of bacteria you host and how much of it!

Bacteria is beneficial to our digestive system because it assists with breaking down food for us, making food easy to digest.  Some bacteria respond to food in a negative way by producing uncomfortable gas as the food is consumed (lactose intolerance).  The "good bacteria" such as Acidophilus, produce toxins that make it difficult for the the bad bacteria or yeast population to grow.  Bad bacteria is only a problem when there is too much, or is permitted to grow out of control. The right balance of good and bad bacteria is an ideal community for health.

(Bacteria- Single celled micro-organism)

Possible symptoms you don't have enough of the good bacteria in your system

  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Ulcerative Colitis (which I do have!)
  • Eczema (maybe tied to a milk allergy)
  • IBS
  • Chron's disease
  • Nausea
  • Bloating
  • Weight Loss
  • Malabsorption

So the question today is will taking good bacteria as a supplement or certain foods actually restore that good bacteria that your bodies need?


The term probiotics is used to describe helpful bacteria in supplemental form or food sources.   Scientifically speaking, restoring good bacteria into your gut really will lead to a healthier immune system, comfortable digestion, and overall good health.  But, my question is - will probiotics get you there?   A few things to consider:

  • Does the probiotic supplement contain actual live (or freeze-dried) bacteria?  Purchasing from a reliable supplement company, whose reputation is on the line might be the only way to get some good bacteria, as opposed to a bottle of snake oil. The lack of regulation with supplements make it important to buy a good brand.
  • Will the dose be appropriate?  (I've seen recommendations all over the board, but unless there is at least 1 billion parts bacteria, it might not be enough to be effective.)
  • Even if we supplement with bacteria, is our bacteria community genetically determined and eventually revert to it's desirable balance? I'm curious about this!!
  • With the millions of strains of bacteria, does the supplement contain the strains you need? Bifidobacterium has been shown to prevent intestinal lining infections.  Saccharomyces boulardii has been shown to help with symptoms such as diarrhea.
  • Will yogurt, kefir, and other fermented foods be more bioavailable and not just pass through your system?  While fermented milk products may digest more effectively, supplements may contain strains that are not present in the milk products.  I think if you are trying to heal with probiotics, I would include both food sources and supplements!
  • Will the supplement survive the journey, or will it be killed before it has any impact?  Enteric coatings on supplements help control where the supplement is dissolved.  This way, it can pass through the stomach without being killed, and be absorbed by the intestines instead.

Personal experience:  I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis at 12 years old and hypothyroid at 36 years old (both considered auto-immune issues).  I actually do take a probiotic (this one) and have been mostly symptom free for as long as I can remember.  I don't know if it's because of the probiotics, or my overall healthy eating, but every few years I have a colonoscopy and I usually get a clean bill of health.  I rarely have stomach pain or bleeding.

I am very curious about your experiences with probiotics.  Have they helped eliminate any symptoms or diseases for you or your kids?  My son TJ is 10 with exercise and grass induced Asthma (and he loves soccer!!). So, just because I like to experiment, I'm going to have him take 30 days of probiotics (he has a peak flow monitor that we can check if his breathing improves).  Then, I'll let you know in a follow up post if I think he's healthier! 



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