How Is Your Child’s Gut Health?
This is probably not a question that you’ve ever been asked before. However, the answer to that single question affects greater than 60% of your child’s immune response. That’s a crazy-big number, isn’t it?
So, if you enjoy your child feeling great and healthy, then this is worth giving some serious thought.
Defining a Healthy Gut
The gut is most commonly recognized as the part of the digestive system that lies between the stomach and the anus. The majority of bacteria in our bodies (nearly 100 trillion!) live in the large intestine or colon. There resides up to 400 different types of bacteria, categorized as either good, bad, or indifferent.
The goal for optimal digestive health is to achieve balance between these different types, with the “good”, or “friendly” bacteria out-populating the bad.
Common Enemies to Good Gut Health
- Antibiotic use is the most common cause of bacteria imbalance. While killing off bad bacteria, the nasty side effect of an antibiotic is that it effectively wipes out good bacteria too. Pediatric antibiotic use is of special concern because it is becoming increasingly more common in the medical practice, growing as much as 15% per year since 1990. The American Academy of Pediatrics states that, “Each course of antibiotics given to a child can make future infections more difficult to treat.”[1. American Academy of Pediatrics, http://www.healthychildren.org/English/news/Pages/Middle-Ear-Infections.aspx?nfstatus=401]
- Use of low-quality probiotic supplements. Probiotics are dietary supplements that reintroduce beneficial bacteria to the body. Many probiotic and prebiotic products on the market today break down rapidly when exposed to the acids in our stomach. They lack an effective method of delivery that guarantees these good bacteria arrive alive to the intestine. What’s worse is many of them contain only one strain of beneficial bacteria, leaving the gut grossly undernurished. Unfortunately, the marketing of these “tummy-loving” products is very convincing, and most people don’t realize the differences in quality.
- Typical “western” diet, high in animal fat and protein. This type of diet–which is most common in America today– is associated with reduced populations of friendly intestinal flora.
3 Steps to Optimal Bacteria Balance for Kids
The good news is that the battle for a healthy gut can still be won! The following three steps work together to provide excellent gut health. If you consistently lack one or more of these, your child’s body will always struggle to keep an optimal balance.
My recommendation to families is to always begin with Step 1. This is the easiest and most immediate. Then, once you have step 1 in place, you can work on the other two progressively without becoming overwhelmed.
- Repopulate with friendly microorganisms on a regular basis through supplementation. Choose a probiotic supplement that has guaranteed live delivery to the intestine and a proven-effective mix of beneficial bacteria.
- Avoid overuse of Rx antibiotics and antibacterial hand soaps/sanitizers. Use only as absolutely necessary, and be sure to follow-up with step one upon completion of the antibiotic round.
- Take steps to encourage and model healthy eating habits. Keep your child’s plate abounding with fresh fruits and veggies!
Gut Health Product Highlight: Optiflora®
I believe this product is the main reason our family has avoided ALL tummy bugs with our kids for the last eight years!
It is a unique two-part product with a patented delivery system that guarantees over 90% live delivery to the intestine.
- Live delivery of Bifidobacterium longum and Lactobacillus acidophilus to the intestine
- Prebiotic powder delivers important nutrients that healthy intestinal bacteria need to grow & thrive.
- Less than a $1/day at Shaklee’s member price!