Probiotics and the Immunological Benefits in Children
The many joys of having children include some less than appealing aspects. One of the benchmarks in raising kids is when they first go off to school or daycare. And those words are enough to conjure a set of the shivers. Germs and their expected prevalence among kids are on every parents mind. When one child comes down sick, it’s only a matter of time before the others bring it home. Plus, we know all about the carrier children- you know, the kids that leave sickness in their wake, but never seem to get sick themselves? We dread their entrance into our homes, except we don’t often realize they are carriers until the first wave of sickness hits. Sharing may be caring, but not when it comes to those pesky microbials. So, how do we better equip our children to fight them off?
Breastfed infants receive a different source of protective antibodies (immunoglobinA) than their bottle-fed counterparts. Even differences in the gut flora between the two have been observed and noted. Allergies arise from over-stimulated immune systems. Children raised in homes where the parents smoke inside have a higher chance for coming down with upper respiratory infections and asthma than children who were raised in homes where there was no smoking allowed inside. Since a child’s primary source of food comes from their home; quality and quantity of nutrition provided is very important to ensure proper growth and development. The immune response of a child is influenced by their environment, diet, and the care that they received during the first five years of life. The use of probiotics can greatly change how these responses turn out.
Studies have also shown that kids introduced to daycare at an early age did have a higher incidence of colds earlier than kids who stayed at home initially but that around the time these children started school, the variance of sickness switched sides. Now we see less prevalence of sickness among the daycare children and more within the kids not exposed to daycare surroundings. Immune system response is our common denominator. Since most of our immune system is comprised around our gut or GALT (gut associated lymphoid tissue), it makes sense to keep this organ as healthy and happy as we can. Probiotics are an easy way to do this. These beneficial bacteria are present in all of us and we each have our own distinctive bacterial cocktail residing within.
The way these bacteria work is through a process called competitive exclusion. This is a competition for real estate property, so strength in numbers is a definite plus. The good bacteria essentially “crowd out” the bad bacteria by producing environmental inhospitality towards those unwanted microbes. They accomplish this by producing chemicals that alter the pH of the intestines, allowing the good kind to thrive but thwarting the growth of hostile strains of microbes and reducing the allergens that make it into the blood stream. There are many types and each strain varies in their function. Check out PROBIOTICS 101 to learn in-depth the multiple ways probiotic bacteria help our bodies to function.
Normally there is a balance 85% to 15%, good vs. bad but when this balance is disrupted, that is when the symptoms of illness start to arise. Many things, including illness, disease, and psychological changes can impact that balance in your child. A course of antibiotics is one of the most common upsets and can give your child diarrhea or yeast infections while treatment is in progress. Antibiotics work to kill the bacterium that makes us ill but they also damage and destroy the strains that are of value to us. Probiotics replace the good bacteria that are killed off. In the event of severe diarrhea, where dehydration poses a danger, the administration of probiotics can help limit fluid loss.
It breaks and worries our hearts as parents to see our children sick or in pain and being limited as to what we can do to alleviate it. Sometimes the only thing we can do to comfort is to rub their backs or hold their hands or wipe their brow. By adding a probiotics product or supplement to their everyday routine, you as parents are helping to keep your child in the best condition they can be. So when that bug strikes, it won’t strike as hard; when those allergies kick in, they won’t be as hard-hitting. The health and well being of your child is worth it, wouldn’t you agree?