There are certain friendly, good or healthy bacteria that exist in a human body. They are known as Probiotics. The human body is home to more than 10 times the amount of microorganisms compared to the amount of the cells in the body.
What are probiotics
According to the World Health Organization, probiotics are live bacteria or live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the individual. They are beneficial to our health because they keep our digestive system healthy. Probiotics suppress against harmful bacteria, thereby creating a balanced environment for your digestive system.
There are about 10,000 billion beneficial and harmful bacteria in children's intestines.
- Probiotics are beneficial bacteria in the intestines
- They compete with harmful bacteria to create a bacterially balanced environment
- These 2 types of bacteria live in a symbiotic manner in our body
- With our body weakened, our immunity impaired and unhygenic eating habits, harmful bacteria can attack us
Benefits of probiotics
With the different kinds of bacteria living within our digestive tracts, certain illnesses can knock the balance between the good and bad bacteria off, and probiotics can help to restore that balance. Having probiotics in your child’s digestive tract can decrease the amount of bad bacteria, thereby avoiding related infection or inflammation.
Research has also shown that probiotics can be helpful for children with irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, antibiotic-associated diarrhea, allergic disorders, etc1. Although further studies are needed to evaluate the health benefits of probiotics, preliminary studies show some additional benefits2 which may include:
1. Aiding dental caries
- Lactobacillus, one of the strains, lowers rates of dental caries in children in the 3-4 year old age group
- Reduces oral count of Streptococcus mutans associated with the disease
2. Protecting the intestinal mucosa
- Age may cause a decline in level of lactase in intestinal brush mucosa
- Lactase-producing probiotics delivering lactase to the intestine may be a practical approach to treat lactose malabsorption
3. Regulating allergic reactions
- Modification of allergic reactions for atopic eczema with Lactobacillus GG
- Lowers frequency and improves atopic eczema symptoms
4. Balancing intestinal flora
- Helps prevent relapse of gastroenteritis after use of antibiotics
- Helps balance intestinal flora which prevents C. difficile growth and toxin production in the intestinal tract
Sources of probiotics
Probiotics are naturally found in our bodies, and can be found in foods, or taken as supplements to aid digestion. There are two main categories of probiotic foods: dairy and fermented foods. Some foods that are rich in probiotics include:
- Green peas
- Fermented soybeans
- Fermented and unfermented milk
- Formulas fortified with probiotics
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Retrieved from https://nccih.nih.gov/health/probiotics/introduction.htm
- Goldin BR, Gorbach SL (2008). Clinical indications for probiotics: an overview. Clin Infect Dis 46 (Suppl 2):S96-S100, discussion S144-51.