Do not think that all bacteria are disease-producing. Friendly bacteria live in the digestive tract and help our bodies run smoothly by enhancing the immune system, fighting off bad bacteria, and promoting good digestion. Probiotics are products that contain live, friendly bacteria, similar to natural bacteria found in our bodies. Probiotics are most popular in supplements and food – with an explosion of new items on the market.
The two most common probiotic groups (genera) are Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. Each group has many species, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, and there are numerous strains. Probiotics are safe for adults and children, as they already naturally reside in our bodies.
Probiotics Reduces Kids’ Cold Symptoms
Published in the online journal Pediatrics, a study found that cold and flu symptoms decreased in young children, ages three to five, who took either a single probiotic or a combination of probiotics. Furthermore, the single or multiple probiotic use reduced the amount of time on antibiotics (compared to a placebo group) by 68 percent and 84 percent respectively, and missed daycare days declined. The study involved 326 healthy kids, dosed twice a day for six months.
Relative to the placebo, the single probiotic, Lactobacillus acidophilus (strain NCFM), compared to the multiple probiotic, L. acidophilus NCFM and Bifidobacterium animalis (subspecies lactis Bi-07), resulted in the latter twosome combination producing more dramatic results.
- Fevers diminished by 53 percent compared to 73 percent.
- Coughing lessened 41 percent versus 62 percent.
- Rhinorrhea (excessive mucous) decreased 28 percent compared to 59 percent.
Upper Respiratory Infection Risk Decreased
Reported in the e-publication of Clinical Nutrition, a study found that Lactobacillus GG produced remarkable results in reducing upper respiratory infections in daycare center children. Viruses cause upper respiratory infections, and include such symptoms as sore throat, cough, runny nose and headache.
For three months, 281 kids (in a placebo or testing group) drank either regular milk or milk containing the probiotic Lactobacillus GG. Those in the testing group showed a significantly reduced risk of upper respiratory infection and for infection lasting longer than three days.
A Flood of Probiotic Products for Young Children
It is important to read probiotic labels and determine just what gains the brands claim, such as diarrhea relief, less respiratory problems, general immune support or tame tummies. Here is a sampling of products:
- Nature’s Way’s seven-strain powder – Primadophilus for Children (ages 0-5)
- Sedona Labs’ six-strain powder – iFlora Probiotic for Kids
- Amerifit Brands’ Lactobacillus GG packets– Culturelle for Kids
- Stonyfield Farm’s six-strain organic yogurt – YoBaby and YoKids
Probiotics are Healthy and Safe for Kids
Probiotics are relatively new products marketed as supplements or added to food that hold promise for kids’ – and adults’ – healthy wellbeing. Many people know from experience that probiotics promote healthy living. Scientific research is ongoing and will confirm or deny the assertions of gastrointestinal, immune and respiratory support.
This is an educational article only. Consult your health care professional for medical advice.