While most people are aware that probiotics are highly beneficial for adults, exciting new research shows they can also promote optimal health in children. The discovery of harnessing the benefits of fermentation for children's health actually began hundreds of years ago in Asia and Africa. People realized that fermentation was an economical way to improve young children's health, which was recently recognized by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO).
From the moment we’re born, babies develop a unique bacterial ecosystem, which is known as the microbiome. Children's microbiome is an important factor in their developing health and well-being. Other contributing factors include genetics, diet, hygiene, environment, and gender. The microbiome can change depending on events in their lives, including stress, illness, dietary changes and more. And since the most significant changes to the microbiome happen during childhood, it can influence a child's health for years, even a lifetime. In fact, research shows that children develop their adult microbiota by the age of three. This is where probiotics can be extremely helpful to promote long-term wellness.
One of the most important benefits of probiotics is supporting brain development and gut health in early childhood. Changes in the gut-brain axis during this time begin the crucial colonization of gut microbiota. Studies confirm that targeted intervention with probiotics can help kids have higher functioning gut and brain health. By simply giving them a daily probiotic that contains specific strains of "good" bacteria, it can protect and improve their gut health, and eliminate digestive concerns.
Other Benefits for Children
Probiotics have many benefits for infants and children. They have been shown to be beneficial in reducing the severity and incidence of gastroenteritis, diarrhea, and colic in babies. They can also benefit children's health by supporting and strengthening the developing immune system, and lead to a strong gut-brain axis.
Probiotics can help children overcome diarrhea and constipation. A study showed that children with constipation who took probiotics experienced increased bowel movements. The research found that children taking probiotics had fewer bouts of vomiting, diarrhea, and hospitalization. Another study found that children who took probiotics had less diarrhea and abdominal pain compared to children who didn't take any probiotics.
Probiotics may also help children overcome common food allergies. Recent research found that kids with allergies had less diversity in their microbiome compared to children with no allergies.
Research shows the many benefits of probiotics for children, including:
- A review in American Family Physician found that probiotics can help to heal inflammatory bowel disease in children. Researchers gave probiotics to pregnant women, and breast-feeding mothers to reduce the development of allergies and eczema in their children.
- A recent study discovered that giving infants probiotics in their first three months can help to prevent acid reflux, colic, and constipation.
- Another study conducted in 2015 found that giving probiotics to children were more effective than a placebo in preventing upper respiratory tract infections in participants. School absences and antibiotic use were also greatly reduced.
- Children taking probiotics experienced fewer digestive issues, such as gastroenteritis, stomach aches, gas, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea.
- Probiotics have been shown to strengthen immunity and lessen immune-related health problems in children.
- Probiotics help with the digestion of food and the absorption of critical vitamins and other nutrients that children need.
- Research shows that probiotics help to support the function of children's urinary tract.
The scientific evidence strongly recommends the incorporation of probiotics in children's diets to protect and improve their overall health, which may last even into adulthood.
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