Disclaimer: The following information has not been approved by the FDA. This information should not be interpreted as medical advice and is not a substitute for a visit with a medical care professional. Always speak to your doctor about any health concerns.
“It is time for America to wake up to the epidemic of chronic illness burdening our pediatric population. By ignoring the problem or denying that it exists, we are unwittingly creating a grim future for our children and ourselves. Children of today are overmedicated, poorly nourished, and exposed to a tremendous toxic burden on a daily basis. What’s more, many children suffer from immune dysregulation, a condition that makes them more susceptible to all of the toxic influences in their lives. It is entirely possible that we are raising a generation of children that does not outlive its parents.” (emphasis added)
Beth Lambert, A Compromised Generation — The Epidemic of Chronic Illness in America’s Children.
Dr. Nancy H. O’Hara notes that in the 15 years she has been a pediatrician she has seen the following increases:
- Autisum: 6,000%
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): 400%
- Asthma: 300%
- Allergies: 400%
- Diabetes: 103%
What is happening to our children? In her book, The Compromised Generation, author Beth Lambert presents information supporting the emerging evidence that a compromised gut microbiota is a major component in these alarming statistics. This well researched book is worth reading, especially if your children are struggling with chronic health issues.
There is a continual stream of concerned parents that come to The Healthy Place looking for supplements to support their children’s health. Our team believes that there are four Kid’s Core Supplements that do just that. They are multi-vitamins, omega-3 fats, vitamin D, and probiotics.
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are living microorganisms that inhabit your gut. They are most often made up of bacteria, but they also include yeasts and other organisms. Did you know that more than 100 trillion microorganisms live in our GI tract. They actually outnumber our own cells! A third of these microbes, aka gut flora, are common to most people. The other two-thirds are specific to each of us, similar to a fingerprint. This community of microorganisms is called the gut microbiota.
It Begins At Birth
Our unique gut “fingerprint” begins at birth. The womb is sterile. An infant acquires colonization of gut microbiota from its mother during birth. Many factors influence this process, including the age of the infant at birth, delivery method, and type of early feeding. Infants that were premature, born via c-section, or whose mother’s received perinatal antibiotics have diminished inoculation of microbes.
Babies that are breast fed benefit from additional Bifidobacteria acquired through the breast feeding process, along with prebiotics (substances that encourage the growth of healthy gut flora) in the breast milk.
The process of colonizing the child’s gut is slow, and takes about three years to fully develop. The ongoing health of our microbiota depends on many factors, but more and more research is discovering that gut health and overall health are linked. In fact, health experts feel that this complex gut microbiota has such a great impact on body function that they refer to it as “the second brain”.
Their Role In The Body
Although the combination and numbers of intestinal microbiota are unique to each individual, their functions are the same and have a huge impact on our health.
Their main roles in the body include:
- Managing digestion and elimination
- Production of vitamins B and K
- Healthy immune function (defense and regulation)
- Combating aggressive microorganisms
- Repair and maintenance of intestinal walls
Because of their major role in overall health, some experts consider this vast colony an “acquired organ”. Acquired because colonization begins at birth and evolves throughout life.
All About Balance
You can see that a balanced gut microbiota is essential for the health of our children. Think of it as a war with “good” and “bad” microbes battling for control. Ninety percent of known pathogens enter the body through the GI tract. Obviously we need to strengthen our internal “army” to be able to combat these invaders.
What can upset this balance? Antibiotics are one factor that is very destructive to our gut flora. This is because they not only destroy the harmful pathogens, they also destroy our normal and healthy microbes. Because of the increased use of antibiotics in children this damage is a serious ongoing problem.
Research has shown that it can take up to four years for our gut to recover from antibiotic treatment. That is a long time! Many children receive repeated antibiotic prescriptions in their first two years of life.
Other factors that affect the health of children’s guts include:
- High consumption of refined carbohydrates, sugar and processed foods
- Consumption of allergenic foods
- Chronic stress and infections
- Antibiotic residue in our food supply
- Environmental pollutants
What Can A Probiotic Do For Your Child?
- Gut Health: As explained above, the gut works like a second brain in the body and its health has been found to be essential to the function of other body systems.
- Launch Enzyme Production: A healthy gut flora is the key to healthy digestion, unlocking nutrients from your food.
- Immune Health: Eighty percent of your immune system is controlled by gut flora. To achieve a strong immune system you must have a healthy, balanced gut.
- Strengthen Natural Vitamin Production: Gut bacteria make four vitamins that are essential to your body’s health. They are vitamin K, folic acid, biotin, and vitamin B12.
- Inflammation Control: Recent studies have found that probiotics can relieve intestinal inflammation, and work as an anti-inflammatory in the body.
- Mental Health: This includes relief from depression, anxiety, decreased ADHD symptoms, and increased mood health.
- Digestive Health: Relief from IBS and constipation, better digestion and absorption of nutrients. This includes decreased severity and shorter duration of gastrointestinal illnesses.
- Urinary Health: Helps prevent recurring urinary tract infections.
- Respiratory Health: Prevention of respiratory infections in children and elimination of nasal pathogens.
- Allergic Reactions: Prevents and/or treats seasonal allergies, also includes atopic eczema and atopic dermatitis.
- Colic: Reduced episodes of crying, less spitting up and less constipation in infants.
- Dental Cavities: Several studies have shown significant reductions in cavities in children.
Ways To Support Gut Health
- Food: Finding ways to incorporate probiotic foods into your child’s diet is always a benefit. These foods include fermented foods, kefir, miso and live cultured yogurt. Watch the sugar content on most store bought yogurts.
- Supplements: An oral probiotic for your children is an excellent way to ensure a healthy gut. Children’s probiotics are available in powder, chewable and capsule forms. They are made specifically for children from newborn and up.
If you have any questions regarding this article or how to choose supplements that support your children’s health, please contact us or stop at our store, located in Madison, Wisconsin. The Healthy Place team works hard to provide information that helps you make informed decisions regarding your family’s health. Their goal is to help you “Find Your Healthy Place”.
Lambert, Beth; with Kobliner, Victoria, MS, RD. A Compromised Generation — The Epidemic of Chronic Illness in America’s Children. First Sentient Publications, Boulder, CO, 2010.
Low Dog, Tieraona, M.D. Healthy at Home. National Geographic, Washington, D.C., 2014.
Disclaimer: All information and recommendations given on this site, in email correspondence, newsletters or other materials provided by The Healthy Place is for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice nor be viewed as a substitute for a face-to-face consultation with a healthcare provider. Consult a licensed healthcare practitioner before modifying, stopping, or starting the use of any medications, health programs, diets, and/or supplements, as well as regarding any health concerns you may have. Our statements and information have not been evaluated or approved by the Food and Drug Administration. As with any health-related program, product, or service, your risks and results may vary. We expressly disclaim responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or damage caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the information provided to you here.”