As parents, it is inevitable to be worried about your children’s health. There are so many different kinds of viruses around us and as parents, we always fear if they might cause any harm to our children. And we are always in a spot as to what right choices should we make for our kids in terms of nutrition and food. And the plethora of options available just decide on choosing one much harder. The most trending topic right now when it comes to children’s health is the need for healthy germs in our children; but should we consider adding these healthy germs to a children’s diet? That remains a hot topic for debate right now and a big question in many parents’ minds.
So to bring it down to basics we can say that as humans are bodies are home to nearly 40,000,000,000,000 bacteria! And most of these bacteria reside in our body’s gut and they do not contribute to any kind of health problems. Several researchers and scientists have begun to note down that most of these bacteria are very essential for the better physical health of us humans. Some recent studies have also gone out to prove that certain bacteria are very essential for the development of our mental health and brain. Let us understand a little more about such good bacteria in food and supplements and whether or not it will help in your child’s brain development. Read on.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are another name given to bacteria which are live microorganisms. And when we consume it in enough quantity, they provide several health benefits to us. You can also term probiotics as life promoting organisms. The word probiotic pro is derived from the Latin word which means to promote and biotic means life. According to signs for any species of bacteria to be termed as probiotic, there must be some scientific evidence that proves a health benefit provided by that particular species of bacteria. There are a lot of drug and food companies which has started to label certain bacteria as probiotic even when there is no scientific evidence involved. Therefore, we need to ensure that we buy probiotics that are approved by the Food safety authority of your particular region. It will be surprising for you to know that the outside part of our bodies is mainly colonized by bacteria. Not just that, they can also be found in our gut and our Airways and they play an important role in regulating our immune system’s response. In the world of probiotics, the two most important strains are lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium— both of these are usually found in supplements and food products. And yes, if you are looking at including any such supplement for probiotics in your child’s diet, we will always recommend a bit of advice that you check with your pediatrician before taking this step.
How is the brain and got connected?
It is the truth that our brain and our intestines are connected both chemically and physically. Any change in our gut also causes an effect on her dream. The largest no of a central system, the Vegas now is the nerve that signals between our will brain and our intestines. Our intestines and brain also communicate through the microbes of a gut as it produces molecules that help in carrying information to the brain. A rough estimation according to a scientific study says that in our body we have just 30 trillion human cells but 40 trillion bacteria. This simply translates to the fact that we have more bacteria than cells in our body. The bacteria present in our body comes directly in contact with anything and everything that enters your body — including medicines, food, and microbes. There are other microbes like fungi and is that live alongside the gut bacteria – collectively they are known as gut microbiomes. Each of these bacteria present in this gene has the capability of producing different kinds of substances that can affect our brains directly. Gut bacteria is what influences our central nervous system and brain by controlling hormone production and inflammation.
Mental health could be improved by probiotics
We all know how much of an increasingly common problem is stress and anxiety amongst the present generation. And let’s not forget that depression sits on the throne of all mental health problems worldwide. All of these mental disorders, particularly anxiety and stress are linked with high cortisol levels which is the stress hormone present in us humans. Several studies show how probiotics can affect people who are diagnosed with depression. One particular study has shown how a mixture of lactobacillus and bifidobacteria could reduce symptoms of depression in a matter of 8 weeks. It also helps in reducing inflammation levels as well. A handful of certain studies have studied probiotics‘ effect on people undergoing depression and how it helped them in reducing the following:
- Academic stress
- Psychological distress
- Depressive traits
- Anxiety symptoms
Probiotics enhance mood
As parents it is very difficult to know and control the mood of your children, isn’t it? Children can be happy in one moment and can turn irritable in another moment. Frequent changes in their mood can cause problems to parents also it might worry them about the same. So, whether people are diagnosed with mental health conditions or not, certain probiotics help in improving mood. Researchers found that when supplements that consist of eight different strains of lactobacillus and bifidobacteria were given to children, their negative thoughts and the sad mood was reduced drastically. Another study showed how consuming milk that contains probiotics helps in improving mood among children. However, a lot more research and studies need to be carried out to validate this fact.
Other benefits of giving probiotics to kids
There is a lot of research still underway to know the benefits of probiotics and how they work if included in kids died. So biotics not just helps in the brain development and kids but also helps with digestion, keeps infectious diseases at bay, and even plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy weight. Some studies show how probiotics assist children who have digestive problems such as:
- Infectious diarrhea
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Inflammatory bowel disease
On the other hand, some studies say probiotics have no positive effect on children because each child has their microbiome. Some doctors say that microbiomes are nothing but like fingerprints which cannot be the same among people. Doctors say that probiotics can help a child positively only if it contains the right strains of bacteria for your child is good otherwise it cannot possibly affect positively.
Are they safe for children?
Though there is a lot of debate and a lot of studies and research to understand if probiotics benefit children, it is stated that they will not cause any harm to children. However, for children who have an immune system that is compromised, their parents should certainly consult a doctor before administering probiotics to their children.
How to provide probiotics naturally to my child?
If your child is just a newborn or even an infant, the best way to provide probiotics would be through breastfeeding. Breast milk is known to contain prebiotics and probiotics. Certain specialized carbohydrates are known to be present only in human breast milk and it acts as a prebiotic, thereby supporting the growth of healthy bacteria. If breastfeeding is not an option for you, then certain formulas like HMOs and probiotics can be used to build a healthy microbiome for your baby.
If you have older children, then encouraging a diet of unprocessed and healthy foods that include vegetables, yogurt, fresh fruits — all these will help in promoting a healthier gut and overall health. Eating fatty foods and sugary beverages will hurt the gut health, therefore ensure that your children steer clear from these. Probiotic yogurt, kefir, kimchi, etc. are other sources of probiotics. If required, administering probiotic supplements will also help in increasing the good bacteria species in your child’s intestines. Also, avoid giving your kids antibiotics as antibiotics even in their oral forms tend to kill good bacteria in your child’s gut. Therefore always consult your doctor before giving antibiotics to your kids.