WHY DOES YOUR CHILD NEED PROBIOTICS?
Probiotics are the most well researched and arguably the most important field in natural medicine today. So what is so essential about probiotics? It all starts with the area of the body they inhabit, the digestive system:the interface between the ingested outside environment and our internal sterile boundary. A lot of sustaining nutrients, along with a lot of infectious microbes, enter the body through this route.
Probiotics, or beneficial gut flora, have been shown to provide numerous vital roles in the digestive system such as:
- forming a first line defensive layer that prevents harmful microbes from taking hold, even actively combating infectious microbes and preventing them from releasing toxins and allergens;
- helping modulate the body’s immune system which prevents auto-immune & inflammatory overreactions to what normally should be considered inert substances, which is the case in many food sensitivities and allergic reactions
- producing vitamins and aiding with the break down and proper digestion of the foods we eat.
Beneficial gut flora have evolved a natural symbiotic relationship with us as their hosts, meaning we provide food and shelter, while they in return confer these digestive, immune, protective, and nutritional health benefits.
HOW MODERN LIFE DEPLETES OUR BENEFICIAL GUT FLORA
Our modern world has disrupted this evolved relationship. Our beneficial gut flora faces continual depletion every day from almost everything we ingest. We are all exposed to antimicrobials, antibiotics, preservatives, and chemicals on a daily basis through the foods, beverages, and medicines we ingest. Understandably, companies will continue to use antimicrobial preservatives in food products since it is their duty to ensure safety of their products from possible harmful spoilage. Antimicrobials are so pervasive most people don’t realize even simple daily meals can culminate to a depletion of beneficial Flora. Even drinking water contains added chlorine compounds meant to disinfect. Furthermore, antibiotics we are occasionally prescribed to treat infections can eradicate all of a body’s beneficial gut flora in one prescribed course. So despite the best intentions for our safety beneficial bacteria in our digestive system face continual attrition.
HOW TODAY’S INFANTS ARE PARTICULARLY VULNERABLE AT THERE EARLIEST STAGES OF LIFE?
The repercussions of beneficial gut flora depletion can cross generations, since mothers pass beneficial bacteria onto their newborns through the birthing process (yes, babies’ digestive systems are first populated with the bacteria they swallow from their mothers’ birth canals), and subsequently augmented through breastfeeding. If a mother has had her own beneficial gut flora depleted through a lifetime of antimicrobial exposure, this can result in their infant being essentially sterile of beneficial bacteria. Without beneficial gut flora colonies being established, a young infant’s digestive and immune systems are vulnerable during their most formative stage.
Furthermore, childbirth today has changed drastically compared to just a generation or two ago: Antibiotics are regularly given during childbirth, C-Sections have increased dramatically as a preferred method of birth, and formula feeding has replaced the breast. These acts prevent the way beneficial bacteria should be transferred from mother to infant. Critical species and strains of beneficial bacteria that have been passed down for countless generations during birth have ceased.
As a result, newborns born in the past generation are particularly defenseless at their most vulnerable stage in life. It is no surprise that there has been a substantial increase in allergic and inflammatory conditions compared to just a couple generations ago. How? Because the environment is full of infectious microbes, molds, and spores waiting to take hold of a newborn’s vacant, undeveloped digestive real-estate which should normal have beneficial bacteria guarding it. This results in colonization by harmful microbes, overly-sensitizing the infant developing immune system and the way it reacts to newly encountered substances and foods. This can set an infant up for a lifetime of chronic inflammatory conditions. Ironically, despite all the antimicrobial exposure the body takes in everyday, molds and spore-formers are best adapted to weather the storm compared to beneficial gut flora (many of which don’t form spores). So once all the live bacteria (both good and bad) have been depleted from antimicrobial exposure, it is the spores that quickly and continually sprout to colonize the vacant intestinal real-estate, maintaining their dominant presence.
THE SIMPLEST WAY TO PROTECT YOUR CHILD AND YOURSELF
Therefore parents and individuals must ensure that beneficial gut flora is continually being replenished for themselves and their children, to simultaneously combat infectious microbes, along with conferring digestive and immune benefits. It’s just a fact of life nowadays. The benefits of probiotics are most needed starting from birth to ensure proper development of digestive and immune function, but their help will always be required throughout life. And equally important to ensuring the supply of beneficial microorganism is knowing which strains to take, because all strains are not created equal; there are strains of probiotics shown to be particularly effective at benefiting digestive, immune, and overall good health.