I’ve written about this a few times on Baby Gizmo before, but my family has been through a decent amount of health struggles throughout the last few years. Because of all of the research our family has done regarding antibiotics destroying our gut, we feel that probiotics are very beneficial. Here’s why we feel it was important to add probiotics to our diet.
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are GOOD, live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your gut health. They are either the same or very similar to the bacteria that’s already in your body. There are several dietary sources of probiotics: yogurt, some cheeses, kefir, and fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi. (Side note – Trader Joe’s Raw Sauerkraut is SO GOOD.) Often times, we don’t get enough probiotics in our diets to balance our gut.
A probiotic supplement can aid your health in many different ways. The most common types are Lactobacillus species, Bifidobacteria, Saccharomyces boulardii and Bacillus coagulans. If that sounds like a foreign language, don’t worry – it does to me, too! Each strain of probiotics works in different ways.
If you’re interested in learning about this further, Gut: The Inside Story of Your Body’s Most Underrated Organ by Guilia Enders is a great read.
Why Take Probiotics?
The right type and amount of a probiotic can help you in several ways. For starters, it can balance the bacteria in your gut and promote a healthy immune system. Probiotics also support a weight management program, as well as prevent occasional diarrhea or constipation. (It’s important to note that the FDA has not researched these claims.)
Probiotics help move food through your gut. Some common conditions they treat are irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), infectious diarrhea (caused by viruses, bacteria, or parasites), and antibiotic-related diarrhea.
I personally have all members of my family taking a daily (or almost daily) probiotic. My daughter gets a powder that dissolves in her morning milk. My son takes a children’s chewable. My husband and I each take our own capsule.
While my kids haven’t vocalized that they feel any different after taking them, I have noticed a major improvement in their overall health. My son was sick the entire duration of fall 2016 after starting preschool. He has had nothing more than a simple cold since beginning daily probiotics in December. My 19 month old daughter has been taking them since an ear infection in October and has been, knock on wood, incredibly healthy since.
My husband and I both feel a big difference if we ever go a week or two without taking them. We both feel as though our bodies are operating more efficiently when we are adding probiotics to our diets.
If you aren’t interested in an actual probiotic supplement, but still wish to add probiotics to your diet, consuming yogurt products with probiotic content is a good option. When choosing a yogurt, look for the seal “Live and Active Cultures” on the product label. This indicates that the yogurt has at least 100 million active cultures per gram of yogurt.
Are there any side effects?
Probiotics are considered safe in the amounts you normally find in food. In general, most healthy adults can safely add foods or dietary supplements that contain probiotics to their diets. If you are lactose intolerant, you can experience stomach discomfort if you try to get your probiotics from dairy products. In that case, consider using a dairy-free probiotic. The FDA states that those with weakened immune systems could suffer serious side effects, so, as always, we recommend discussing probiotics with your doctor prior to taking. Do your research to determine if you believe probiotics are right for you and your family.