May 21, 2010


It is a proven fact that an unhealthy digestive system can weaken a persons immune system opening them up to all kinds of problems. We also know how delicate and under developed many babies digestive systems are. We slowly introduce new foods and liquids, take precautions by reading labels on foods, and follow doctors advice when giving toddlers nuts, eggs, shellfish, and berries (*see footnote below). Is there something more we can be doing to help out our kids digestive system and even our own? YES! And the best part, it is easy and very accessible!

Before we dive into this subject, PLEASE note to ask your child's pediatrician FIRST before starting them on anything. There is a lot of good info out there about probiotics and their positive effects but along with them are the studies that in some kids no positive effects have been found. I know all these conflicting studies are frustrating, especially as a mom. I just wanted to make sure I bring it up and you can read those safety concerns here.

Thanks to a Biology background, good pediatricians, and a close friend who is extremely knowledgeable in chinese medicine, I have always given my kids probiotics when they began taking any sort of antibiotic. If you haven't done this, you will be amazed at how the probiotic can counteract many of the nasty side effects the antibiotic may be causing your child to have (especially the painful diarrhea and diaper rash that comes along with most antibiotics). Since my daughter was rarely sick and she has always been "regular" (she is so not going to like reading these posts when she is older), I never really paid that much attention to all the positives the probiotics were providing her. Then my baby boy came along. From day one, he had painful and irregular poops (post #4 and we are already talking about POOP, our lives are so exciting!! :) ). He also hit 9 months and got sick because of chronic ear infections week after week after week, so I was constantly pumping the kid full of antibiotics and probiotics. I quickly saw a pattern, when he was on the probiotics, his digestive issues seem to fade.

Now that he has tubes in his ears and not getting sick as often (knock on wood), and I have him on a probiotic supplement during cold and flu season, definitely when he is on antibiotics, and when he is having GI issues. I am hoping to BOOST his immune system by strengthening his digestive system, and help him out in the poop department. So far, it seems to be helping! I also supplement my daughter during those times as well. She takes a chewable tablet in the morning and my one year old gets a powder put in his milk or juice twice a day. Not to mention, they both eat a yogurt with probiotics in them once a day (CHECK YOUR YOGURTS...not all of them have them).

There is also a ton of research out there that says the probiotics may hlp reduce the risks of colds, flu, allergies, GI issues, headaches, eczema in babies (will let you know on this, both my kids have it), autoimmune disorders, thyroid issues, and many more. By the way, I also take a probiotic everyday (in pill form called ALIGN, you can get it at Costco and many other places) and it has really helped me out with my GI issues too (read isults to our probiotic and digestive system health here...UNBELIEVABLE how many things disrupt the digestive environment we should keep)!! Enough of my personal are the links and good info you really want!!

There are many types of gut flora, the two I try to supplement my kids with are :



Bifidobacterium Bifidum

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I really like this website. It gives both perspectives from a scientific standpoint and highlights safety concerns. If you have a minute, check it out:
Probiotics for kids with diarrhea and other ailments: What every parent needs to know

Here is another concise article with a lot of info on probiotics.
Good article on Probiotics

Read more about how probiotics can benefit those with migraines, thyroid, and many more autoimmune disorders. Also proven to reduce eczema in infants!

More Reason for Probiotics (July 2002)

Where to get Probiotic supplements:
Health food stores (Sun Harvest, Whole Foods, Trader Joes)
Many grocery stores
Some Pharmacies
MANY online stores (my favorite - NATURE'S SUNSHINE)

I know it seems like I give my kids everything on the planet, but I really don't. In fact, I have always been weary of taking anything myself (even tylenol) and I am really hesitant to give my kids anything without a ton of research. One thing I am not hesitant about is using natural supplements and nutrition to help the body do what God made it to do! So the best advice I take and give is look into this route first and always!!

That's where Prebiotics come in!

So what are they?

Think of them as food for the “friendly” bacteria in your gut.

Prebiotics are hard-to-digest food ingredients that can be metabolized by probiotics, the beneficial microorganisms living in your digestive tract (Gibson and Roberfroid 1995).

To date, most research has focused on certain oligosaccharides, in particular:

• fructooligossacharides (FOS)

• galactooligosaccharides (GOS)

• inulin

These are actually carbohydrates, albeit carbs that humans can’t digest. The only energy we get from FOS, GOS, and inulin is provided by our gut flora.

Bacteria in the colon ferment the oligosaccharides, producing short-chain fatty acids, lactate, and gas. The process provides us with a bit of energy, but not much: FOS and inulin yield about 1.5 calories per gram (Niness 1999).

A variety of bacteria can metabolize the nondigestible oligosaccharides. However, two groups--the probiotic bifidobacteria and lactobacilli--seem to thrive on these prebiotics.

Here are the natural sources that you can feed yourself and your kids to "feed" that healthy bacteria in your gut boosting it's livelihood, therefore balancing out your bodies natural healthy environment.

Natural sources

Oliosaccharides are found in breast milk, which may partly explain why breastfed babies experience fewer infections (Boehm and Moro 2008).

FOS, GOS, and inulin are also found naturally in these foods:

• Onions

• Garlic

• Milk

• Bananas

• Wheat

• Oats

• Artichokes

• Asparagus

• Leeks

• Chicory

Read the entire article below
Prebiotics: How to feed your family’s friendly gut flora

I hope I have sorted through some of this information for you! There is A LOT out there and it gets confusing!
I like to get to the BOTTOM LINE (if you haven't noticed). My bottom line is this...
When my kids are more susceptible to becoming ill, I supplement with probiotics. These times are: cold and flu season, when taking antibiotics, and times of tough GI issues (stomach bug, diarrhea, or stressful situations).
All other times, I am working to UP their intake of PREBIOTICS by feeding them whole foods that will help the healthy bacteria do it's job more efficiently!!


  1. Love probiotics! We have more "bugs" in our body than human cells; thus, it's important to recognize and maintain the symbiotic relationship between the two. I also recommend probiotics for travel, about 2 weeks out and then 2 weeks after you return. For an adult I recommend about 5 billion. If you prefer to get probiotics from your food you can find them in yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, brined olives, and of course the foods that have been "fortified" with them. However, not all are equal nor are they regulated (as with supplements), so buyer beware--one yogurt may have more than others, even from one container to another. I prefer non-fat Greek yogurts where I sweeten myself for my daily dose! If you are wondering about best brands of supplements look to an independent tester, such as for the most unbiased information. If a person is selling you a product--beware! Be the savvy consumer instead!

    Great post Leslie!

  2. Thanks Wendy! Great info and I love the travel tip!! I always feel "not right" when traveling and upon returning! I also LOVE Greek yogurt!

  3. Hi,
    Do mind telling me what brand you give your children? My daughters GI suggested Align for her.