I’ve Heard About Gut Bacteria, But What Exactly Is It?
Living inside the digestive system are trillions of different types of bacteria. It’s thought that the first bacteria arrive in the gut at birth, growing in number and diversity until 3-4 years of age1. After this, the colonies mature and change throughout life, dependent on diet and lifestyle.
Why is Gut Bacteria So Important?
Gut bacteria play a significant role in your little one’s growth and development. Collectively they aid in digestion and gut health, enhance immunity, synthesise vitamins, making them an essential factor for wellbeing and healthy function.
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are live, beneficial strains of bacteria that help to maintain and enhance healthy flora in the digestive system, and support general health and wellbeing.
When Can I Give My Child A Probiotic Supplement?
While most gut bacteria come from our diet and environment, providing your little one with a boost from a probiotic can be valuable for their health and development.
Sometimes ‘bad’ bacteria can grow and cause an imbalance, leading to poorer health and sometimes illness. However, the good news is that balance can be re-established with a healthy diet and good quality probiotics for kids, specifically formulated for young ones.
Infant Probiotics Might Be A Good Option If:
1. Your Child Is A Fussy Eater
Fibrous vegetables, whole grains and other plant-based foods enhance the development of healthy gut bacteria, while processed foods can cause harmful bacteria to flourish. Unfortunately, many fussy-eaters lack the right amount of healthy foods in their diet, leading gut bacteria to become imbalanced. A children's probiotic can help quickly restore this balance, especially in the early years.
2. Your Child Has Been On Antibiotics
Sometimes when your little one is sick, they will need to take antibiotics to get on top of the infection. Unfortunately, antibiotics destroy good bacteria as well as harmful bacteria and can sometimes lead to an imbalance. A good quality children's probiotic can assist in restoring balance after antibiotic use.
3. Your Child Gets Sick Regularly
Healthy gut bacteria benefit immunity by boosting the immune response and minimising the growth of harmful bacteria. They also help strengthen the gut wall so microorganisms and large food molecules cannot pass across the digestive lining into the bloodstream and cause problems around the wider body. Clinical trials suggest probiotics may help reduce the incidence and duration of illness, including those of the upper respiratory tract, minimise antibiotic use, and reduce allergy and intolerance symptoms2.
4. Your Child Has Digestive Problems
The live microorganisms in probiotics support a healthy digestive system by strengthening the gut wall, enhancing nutrient uptake and protecting against inflammation. Reestablishing beneficial gut bacteria with infant probiotics may help restore healthy gut flora and reduce gastrointestinal symptoms, including irritation, diarrhoea and constipation.
¹ Stewart, C.J., Ajami, N.J., Petrosino, J.F. (2018). Temporal development of the gut microbiome in early childhood from the TEDDY study. Nature 562, 583-588
² Sanders, M., Merenstein, D., Merrifield, C., & Hutkins, R. (2018). Probiotics for human use. Nutrition Bulletin, 43. 212-225
³ 14. Xiao, L., Ding, G., Ding, Y., Deng, C., Ze, X., Chen, L., Zhang, Y., Song, L., Yan, H., Liu, F., & Ben, X. (2017). Effect of probiotics on digestibility and immunity in infants. A study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. Medicine 2017 Apr; 96(14): e5953.