Your Child’s Gut Microbiome
From the moment that you find out you’re going to have a baby, a million concerns start to run through your mind—and first among these worries is likely how to protect your child’s health and set them up for a lifetime of wellness. You plan to feed your child a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; you think about how to encourage them to be active and to teach them to enjoy stretching their muscles.
Of course, a healthy diet and an active lifestyle are important for even small children, but the truth is that much of your child’s whole body well-being—from childhood into adulthood—rests on one key thing: the health and balance of their gut microbiome.
In turn, while your child’s health can be bolstered in many ways, adding a daily probiotic supplement for kids to your little one’s routine can unlock a whole host of health benefits, from a better-functioning digestive system to a stronger immune system (meaning fewer illnesses and quicker recovery). (1)
In addition, many studies have been performed in relation to brain-gut interaction. (2) In fact, the gut has been nicknamed the ‘second brain’. The gut-brain communicates with the brain and is known to pivotally affect overall health. Maintenance of gut flora balance provides support for brain health which is particularly important for a growing child.
In this guide, we’ll cover why your child’s gut health is important, causes and effects of an unbalanced microbiome in kids, what a kids probiotic supplement can do for your child, and what makes up the best probiotics for kids including targeted strains and supplements formulated specifically for healthy children.
Why Your Child’s Gut Health is So Important
Gut health is key for supporting overall health at all ages, but the early years of life are especially important for developing a healthy and balanced gut microbiome—the immense and diverse population of microorganisms that reside in the digestive tract. Popular culture tends to paint all bacteria as something to keep your children away from, but in actuality, good bacteria strains are vitally important for your child’s health.
A person’s microbiome is established at birth, and before. (3) Moms can pass on some of these good-guy gut helpers while the baby’s still in the womb working on getting born. Scientists have found that giving fetuses a head start on gut health and exposing them to various probiotic strains while they’re developing leads to stronger immune systems, digestive advantages, and other benefits at birth and beyond. (4) During birth, babies are exposed to even more of their mothers’ probiotic bacteria as they travel through the birth canal.
Your child’s gut microbiome begins to develop in the womb, is further populated during birth and through breastfeeding, and undergoes critical stages of development in infancy and early childhood. The good bacteria that call your child’s digestive tract home are critically important in helping to digest food and absorb vitamins, but their role goes beyond the digestive tract; a balanced gut microbiome can boost your child’s immune system and improve the function of a number of related bodily processes.
Causes and Effects of an Unbalanced Gut Microbiome in Your Child
As important as a balanced gut microbiome is for your child’s health, there’s a bunch of obstacles in the way of young children’s gut health developing properly.
Antibiotic use is one of the most common causes of an out-of-balance microbiome. As important as antibiotics are for preventing serious infections by killing off bad strains of bacteria, they operate indiscriminately; important beneficial bacteria is targeted alongside the detrimental strains.
A full 33% of US births are C-sections, which can negatively impact the baby’s balance of good bacteria. (5) Many expectant moms are dosed with antibiotics while in the delivery room, which can knock a baby’s microbiome out of whack. What’s more, before the age of four—just when their teeny bodies should be working on building a good gut-health foundation—kids receive more antibiotics than any other age group. (6)
If the doc says antibiotics are a must for your sick child, better microbiome health could mean fewer rounds of the drug will be needed to get them healthy again. (7) Preemies given probiotics fuss and cry less (a blessing, any new mom would tell you). (8) Plus, studies are currently being conducted to examine the role probiotics have in treating and preventing a whole bunch of ailments—diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, constipation, dermatitis, eczema, and respiratory problems, to name a few.
The use of antibacterial products can have a similar effect to antibiotics, killing good bacteria along with bad. Indeed, a growing number of researchers support the “hygiene hypothesis.” (9) This theory posits that environmental and lifestyle changes that affect children in developed countries such as improved sanitation, reduced exposure to farm animals and increased C-section rates has led to children not being exposed to enough of the right types of good bacteria in their early years—with potentially significant health consequences.
So what can the effects be if your child’s gut microbiome is unbalanced? Some symptoms are relatively minor yet disruptive, including digestive issues like constipation and diarrhea. However, several serious and life-long conditions that commonly onset during childhood such as asthma, allergies, autoimmune diseases, and Type 1 diabetes have been linked to an unbalanced gut microbiome and a lack of exposure to adequate sources of good bacteria in childhood.
What Can a Kids Probiotic Supplement Do for Your Child?
Since maintaining a balance between good and bad bacteria is vital for the proper functioning of the immune system, a number of health professionals recommend probiotics for kids.
When talking about the health of a child, it is important to note that approximately 70% of the immune system exists in the gut in the form of microbes. (10) So it follows that one of the best ways to ensure the health of your kids is to take care of their gut with probiotic supplements.
By supporting the health of your child’s gut microbiome, a probiotic supplement has the potential to boost the health of their entire body—but several key benefits have been shown over and over again in multiple scientific studies.
Digestive Health Benefits
From constipation to diarrhea, taking a daily probiotic supplement may help improve your child’s digestive tract function. A review conducted by American Family Physician found that probiotics can help reduce the duration of gastroenteritis-caused diarrhea, and a daily probiotic supplement may even be effective at treating more serious digestive tract disorders in children such as inflammatory bowel disease. (11) A study published in Pediatrics also suggests that probiotics may be able to prevent diarrhea associated with antibiotic use. (12)
Benefits for Babies
The same Pediatrics study also found evidence that early probiotic use may be able to prevent infants from developing necrotizing enterocolitis, a serious condition that causes the death of intestinal tissue. (12) Likewise, for the youngest children, probiotics can be incredibly effective at reducing the occurrence of colic, acid reflux, and constipation. A 2013 study published in JAMA Pediatrics found that infants under four months suffering from colic showed signs of improvement when given a probiotic supplement. After being given a probiotic containing the Lactobacillus reuteri strain, infants in the study had fewer crying episodes, less constipation, and less spitting up than the control group. (13)
Lowers Occurrence of Respiratory Infections
What’s more, the proven benefits of probiotic supplements for children go beyond the digestive tract. A comprehensive review of research on the subject undertaken in 2015 discovered that probiotic supplements were markedly more effective than placebo in lowering the occurrence and length of upper respiratory tract infections in adolescent study participants. (14) Indeed, researchers found that children who took a daily probiotic had lower rates of school absences and antibiotic use than their counterparts who didn’t take a probiotic supplement.
Reduces Inflammatory Conditions
Children who have a family history of eczema, asthma, or allergic rhinitis may also benefit from probiotic supplementation. One study found that children who were given the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG for their first six months of life saw 50 percent fewer cases of eczema than children who were given a placebo. (15) This effect seems to be particularly pronounced for children whose eczema flare-ups are caused by a milk allergy.
Probiotics Are Only Part of the Equation
Of course, it’s important to remember that a daily probiotic supplement is only part of the equation when it comes to supporting your child’s gut health. When possible, provide breast milk throughout infancy for key sources of naturally-occurring probiotics and a healthy diet filled with complex carbohydrates and dietary fiber to help feed the friendly bacteria already in residence in your child’s digestive tract. (16) Staying away from antibacterial products and unnecessary antibiotics can also help protect their microbiome’s delicate balance. However, adding in a probiotic supplement for kids to your child’s daily routine is one of the most effective ways—and certainly the easiest!—to promote a healthy gut microbiome and lay the foundation for a lifetime of good health.
Best Probiotic Strains for Kids
Probiotics are defined as “live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host” as per the World Health Organization and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN.
Fermented foods such as buttermilk and kefir naturally contain probiotics. Apart from these foods, you can also give your kids probiotic supplements. When it comes to probiotics, there’s a legion of different strains—some are more effective and beneficial to kids than others. The bugs that LoveBug Probiotics puts to work in its products include Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, the strain that tops them all. These microscopic heroes can help maintain a strong gastrointestinal and respiratory tract in your youngsters. (17) The little powerhouses also get your child started on a healthy, happy life—building a strong immune system, helping digestion of dairy products, and more.
Let’s take a close look at some of the best strains of probiotics for kids including Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG and others.
Belonging to the bacteria genus Lactobacillus, L. acidophilus is a gut bacteria that can be found in fermented foods like yogurt. This gut microbe produces an enzyme known as lactase, which breaks down lactose into lactic acid. The different strains of Lactobacillus are known for their health benefits and each of them has different effects. (18) Some of the health benefits include reducing cholesterol, treating gastroenteritis, alleviating symptoms of IBS, and it may also reduce allergy symptoms. (19)
Perhaps one of the most powerful strains of probiotics for kids, Bifidobacterium lactis, is present in raw milk. Some of the various benefits of this strain are improving digestion, enhancing the immune system, lowering cholesterol, and treating acute diarrhea. (20)
One of the most commonly used probiotics for kids, Saccharomyces boulardii is a yeast. It is generally used to treat infectious diseases like rotaviral diarrhea, overgrowth of bad bacteria, and traveler’s diarrhea in kids. Research has shown that this probiotic strain is very effective in treating acute diarrhea in kids. (21)
Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG
Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG is regarded to be the most-widely clinically studied probiotic strain in the world. Extensive studies have been conducted to test the efficacy of this probiotic with children. Some of these studies have found that this strain may be useful in reducing allergy diseases and preventing eczema. This renowned strain is also effective in treating antibiotic-associated diarrhea as well as acute gastroenteritis in kids. (22)
While using these individual strains are beneficial to your kids, it is important to include foods and supplements that offer a wide range of probiotic strains in your kids’ diet.
Best Probiotic Supplements for Kids
Providing effective probiotic supplements for the young (right from infants) to the old is a motto of LoveBug Probiotics. LoveBug Probiotics have strong research and scientific base behind them—the team of doctors and scientists are continuously striving to figure out how each probiotic strain can be made even more effective. Their patented BIO-tract delivery technology is a testament to their intense research and dedication. It is because of this technology that the probiotics are able to make it through your harsh stomach acids and reach your digestive tract as soon as possible—giving them 15 times more survivability than the other supplements on the market.
Instead of containing just one strain of probiotics in the supplements, you get a specialized blend of different strains to ensure that the health benefit is maximized. The daily dose LoveBug Probiotic delivers approximately 3 billion colony forming units (CFUs) (aka the good microbes) to your kid’s gut.
Next, you might be wondering – are our kids probiotics sugar-free? Yes! Gluten-free? YES again! The best part about our probiotic supplements is that they do not contain ANY undesirable ingredients. We are non-GMO and free of artificial flavors, chemicals, and allergens (like soy, nuts, and milk)—because there’s no place for any of those undesirables in your child’s precious microbiome. All of our probiotics are also proudly made in the US.
Because your kids are special, we’ve created products formulated especially for their little bodies from newborn into adolescence.
Little Ones (For Kids 4+)
Little Ones from LoveBug Probiotics is ideal for any kid over the age of 4 years. Instead of chewable tablets, this supplement comes in the form of small-sized (6mm) spheres, which can be easily swallowed. Each of these spheres is jam-packed with 3 billion live cultures that will populate the gut flora and enhance the immune system of kids. Little Ones contains five carefully selected strains as opposed to using just one or two and even incorporate prebiotics (the fiber that fuels probiotics).
Our probiotic supplements will not cause any sugar cravings in kids because they do not contain sugar at all. Apart from being sugar, gluten, and dairy-free, this probiotic is also free of other allergenic ingredients like peanuts, eggs, soy, shellfish, fish, tree nuts, crustacean, and wheat (as are all of our probiotics). LoveBug has taken care to create this specialized formula for kids and has ensured that children do not have any allergic reactions due to the consumption of this supplement.
The daily dose of Little Ones is one sphere before meals. This dosage may be increased to two spheres before meals only in cases where intense probiotic support is recommended.
Tiny Tummies (For Newborns-4 Years)
Tiny Tummies comes in options for three age ranges (geared toward tykes from newborn to four years old) and convenient individual probiotic powder packets for adding to cool food or drink.
These probiotics for babies and toddlers are specially formulated with targeted strains (each contains progressively more strains as age and needs increase), to give your kids the best start in life possible. Some of the benefits include immune support, digestive aid, decreased occurrence of colic, and brain health support. Like Little Ones, they also included prebiotics for an added boost.
Moms to the Rescue!
Great moms, like you, want to give their kids everything they possibly can to keep them happy. As a company “By a Mom For Moms”, we are pro-kids health as a priority—we get you. Moms now have the power to set the balance right from the very beginning of their young ones’ lives, through the use of probiotics.
When you choose to give your child the gift of probiotics, it’s a gift that keeps on giving. A healthy gut gives precious youngsters like yours the strong start in life they deserve so they can continue to grow and develop into healthy adults.
Maintain the balance of the good and bad bacteria in your kids gut by opting for LoveBug Probiotics.
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