Most folks think that probiotics are a product. In actual fact, our gut contains both good bacteria (probiotics) that keeps the “bad bacteria”(antibiotics) in check. ‘Anti’ literally means ‘against’, while ‘biotics’ comes comes from the Greek term meaning ‘bios’ or ‘life’.
The American Academy of Family Physicians defines probiotics as: “supplements containing organisms that change the microflora of the host. These organisms are typically Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Streptococcus species. They are able to predominate and prevail over potential pathogenic microorganisms in the human digestive tract, and are thought to produce metabolic byproducts that function as immune modulators.”
It is up to us to discern whether we want to load our guts up with probiotics or with antibiotics. Gastrointestinal flora is an intrinsic part of our overall immune function and health. Lactobacillus GG fights infections and also helps to regulate healthy bowel movements in both adults and children. The benefits of taking probiotics can be explained further in the Harvard article found here.
Our patients often want us to prescribe a pill. They originally come from the allopathic side of medicine and they want to simply go to the store to pick up a probiotic, or at the very least order it online. While we’re fine with this, I don’t actually do this for myself or my family.
If you’d like to learn more about the simple and cheapest way to get a ton of multi- faceted probiotics in your diet, you can read here about how to safely ferment at home to get about 90 trillion probiotics into your diet by a week from today.
I am confident in knowing this is the best way to get the broadest range of probiotics. Foods like sauerkraut, and beverages like kombucha and kefirs, provide different spectrums of probiotics, which are more natural and conducive to health. Also, foods and salt water hopefully won’t be regulated by Big Pharma or the Naturopathic Establishments anytime soon. Whole foods and DIY supplementation is the way to go, in my opinion.
However, when I first came to this system of medicine to recover my own son from the Autism Spectrum (ASD), I started with probiotic capsules bought from the refrigerated section of the health food store. I generally bought what was on sale as long as it had several million lactobacillus and bifidus in each capsule.
I opened the capsule in his natural yogurt with organic fruit and sweetened with a dash of honey or maple syrup. He never tasted it, which was a relief as he was profoundly texture and taste sensitive, as most ASD kids are. You can listen to the FREE audiobook about my son, Jordan’s, recovery from ASD The Path To Cure Audiobook.
Some of you might guess that it’s been since the mid-1990’s that clinical studies began in the use of probiotics for the following issues:
- Gastrointestinal illnesses such as chronic diarrhea, constipation, Crohn’s, IBS, and even Clostridium Difficile (C-diff.) results. The latter is a total annihilation of healthy bacteria in the gut from extended uses of antibiotics, chemotherapy, and radiation. In some cases, the patient may be suffering in the extreme, requiring both massive doses of probiotics as well as a fecal microbiota transplant.
- Allergies in children
- Vaginal and Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs).
Can I Give My Kids Probiotics?
As mentioned prior, probiotics are already contained in the gut naturally. In fact, the health of the mother and her healthy microbiota will largely determine the health of her baby in the first year of life. The reason for this is that baby will take a big gulp of the mother’s probiotics in the vaginal canal enroute to being born naturally. Along with bonding and temperature regulation, we have probiotics contained on our skin, which is why skin to skin contact with our babies is so crucial from birth. Also, there are probiotics in the mother’s breast milk. This is why you want a plethora of probiotics in your gut not only for your health but also for the benefit of your baby as well.
If baby is bottle fed or born by C-section, or the mom has had several rounds of antibiotics in her lifetime without proper replenishing of strains lost, it is best to speak with your healthcare provider who is specifically knowledgeable in probiotic supplementation.
As per Safety.com, “Popular probiotic products include infant formulas already containing probiotics, powdered probiotics to add to milk or yogurt, yogurts and yogurt drinks that contain probiotics, and probiotic supplements. However, some parents may worry about giving their children food and drinks containing probiotics because you may not know exactly how much and what kinds of probiotics your children are actually getting.”
While you can’t be harmed by overdosing on probiotics, the concern is more about sourcing a reliable product. My rule of thumb is to steer away from Pharma-brand supplements found in the local pharmacy. I always used a refrigerated brand from a reputable company found in the health food section of my supermarket or health food store.
It’s important to note that refined sugars, carbohydrates, alcohol, and drugs such as antibiotics will destroy the gut’s healthy microbiome causing the bad bacteria to flourish and take over. It is important that you try and minimize these practices as much as possible and consider increasing your doses of good probiotics when you feel the need to ingest any of the above substances.
Here are some brands that we can recommend, starting with the brand we tout in our book, The Natural Home Pharmacy: Peer Inside To See What A Natural Doc Has Used Over The Last 20 Years To Keep Her Own Family Whole And Healthy. You’ll see quite quickly that we don’t recommend any products with dyes or additives. Also there is no difference between adult and children’s probiotics except how they’re marketed to you. So it is up to you which you prefer to use. With an adult version, simply open the capsule and sprinkle on cold food for your babes:
- Natural Factors Double Strength (available on Amazon)
- Vitamin Bounty Gluten Free (available on Amazon)
- Delpro Non-Dairy (available on Amazon)
- Garden of Life (derived from organic and raw sources; available on Amazon)
- Now Chewables (Available on Amazon)
- Number One Vegetarian Capsules (available on Amazon)
- Nature’s Way Primadophilus Optima (for all ages; available on Amazon)
- Udo’s Choice by Flora (available on Amazon)