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_probiotics-for-kids

What You Need to Know About Kids and Probiotics

Are you guys familiar with probiotics?  I have friends who swear by them but, for whatever reason, I’ve never really looked into them much.  Today we’ve got a great guest post introducing all of us newbies to the who, what, when, where and why of probiotics.

P.S. Thanks so much to everyone who weighed in on the question of the day on Friday – it’s such a nice feeling to ask for conversation and actually get it!  Hugs to each of you who took the time to comment – and don’t forget to check out today’s “question of the day” at the end of the post.

Until having children, I didn’t understand what probiotics were. I remember my husband bringing home a Goodbelly probiotic drink once and, truthfully, I was kind of grossed out. The idea that there were billions of live bacteria partying in a box in my refrigerator seemed, well bizarre!

These days our whole family lives for these “good bugs” as they are absolutely essential to our health. Without getting too scientific or above my own head, I can tell you that having a healthy gut (created largely by these healthy bacteria) will greatly improve overall health. I was shocked to learn that close to 80% of the immune system is housed in the gut. Say what? That’s a pretty significant bit of information, especially during cold and flu season.

Here are some probiotics rich foods that we try to incorporate into our girls’ meal plans on a daily basis:

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Organic, plain whole milk yogurt. To make this tasty, we stir in raw honey to sweeten and frozen, organic berries for a good dose of antioxidants and flavor. The berries also color the yogurt when stirred in, which is a fun morning experiment, and a great way to get your kids in the kitchen with you. Last, we sprinkle on chia seeds – we try to incorporate these tiny super seeds into any meal we can.

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Sauerkraut. I was surprised that my girls love sauerkraut. Part of me still believes it may have been partially because when they asked for a bite, I told them I didn’t think they would like it. It was love at first forkful, which is great because sauerkraut (and all fermented foods) is probiotic packed.  Above the girls are enjoying both original sauerkraut and red cabbage and ginger sauerkraut – equally delicious.

Kefir. This probiotic powerhouse can be tasty, too. Our store-bought kefir smoothies are a HUGE hit at home – we are talkin’ bribe-worthy here! We like

Probiotic supplements. We mix a loose powder probiotic into the girls water during and after a stint of antibiotics, which kill bacteria (healthy bacteria included) in the gut. We keep them on a supplement for weeks after an antibiotic, and then focus on getting a healthy dose daily from our food.

It’s also important to know the assailants. If we are going to help maintain or restore those little guts, it is crucial to know what feeds the “bad bugs.” Sugar, processed foods, fried foods, and foods that you suspect your child may be sensitive to are all culprits in fighting off the “good bugs.” Suspicions regarding food sensitivities such as seeing rashes, eczema flair ups or unexplained changes in behavior are certainly worth looking into. What we see on the outside is usually just the tip of the iceberg.

That’s it.  Now that you know the basics, let’s kick off this month of love by giving those little guts the TLC they deserve.

Question of the day: 

My BFF is big on probiotics and so is her naturopath pediatrician.  The last time S was on antibiotics I asked my ped about them and she didn’t have much to say either way.  What type of pediatrician do you use and have you talked to them about using probiotics with your littles?

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Anna is a joyful wife and mom to two sweet girls. Nutrition became one of her passions when her first daughter was born prematurely and showed early signs of food allergies. She is now happily learning all about health and wellness as part of the Prescribe Nutrition team. (Use code: MPMK20 to try one of their courses at 20% off.) When not working, she can be found practicing yoga at Yellow Barn Wellness.

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

shaunna February 4, 2013 at 9:09 am

Does anyone know the difference between specific probiotics?? After a tummy bug swept through the house I went to get a supplement because I read that good bacteria needs restoring, but my 1-year old was off dairy as it made her tummy too sensitive. I was overwhelmed at the choices ranging from drugstore pill supplements to very very expensive gels and juices. I ended up getting acedophilus probiotics with the intention of mixing it in with foods.

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mpmk February 4, 2013 at 11:13 am

I’m not sure Shaunna, but I’ll ask Anna to stop by and share any knowledge she has!

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Katie Jasper February 4, 2013 at 11:36 am

Hi Shaunna!
I’m Katie Jasper {I’m the nutritionist that works with Anna}. here’s one of my favorites for the kiddos, especially those with sensitive tummy’s–> RAW Organic Probiotic Kids. It does take some time to get used to them for some but what you got is just fine as well! It’s creating a powerful ecosystem that can really support them in all facets of life – especially as they are exposed to soo much! Those other tips Anna pointed out are perfect too :: kefir, organic yogurts, and if you can sneak in some good old fashioned sauerkraut!

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mpmk February 4, 2013 at 2:41 pm

Thanks for chiming in Katie – I’ve updated the probiotics link above to take you guys to the RAW kids product Katie mentions.

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Jess February 4, 2013 at 9:54 am

What great information and meal tips! As a mom with a sensitive stomach and a weak immune system I worry that these issues can be passed on to my baby boy. Knowing the importance of gut health and the role probiotics play in keeping our guts healthy is one step in the right direction for us!! Thank you for sharing this information!

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mpmk February 4, 2013 at 11:14 am

Hi Jess – glad you found the info. helpful. Let us know how it goes if you get the chance.

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annagrace February 4, 2013 at 10:41 am

Our pediatrician suggested probiotics at our very first visit, which started our journey into probiotics and what they are. Dr. Hyman is one of my favorite resources when it comes to learning about probiotics/gut health. I highly recommend his website for people who want to hear it from a doctor – an amazing integrative, holistic doctor!

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mpmk February 4, 2013 at 11:14 am

Thanks for sharing the resource!

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Kim February 4, 2013 at 11:29 am

Our pediatric allergist is the one who recommended probiotics to us. I’m not good about keeping the supplements stocked year-round, but I really rely on them before and during vacations, and during cold/flu season.

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Ashley February 4, 2013 at 11:46 am

Our pediatrician and everyone in her (Very Large) practice specifically recommend probiotics whenever they prescribe antibiotics and have posted a lot of information on their Facebook page about how they support daily use. They recommended Kids Culturelle to us and I like it because it can be slipped into foods or drink and be undetectable, but I am sure any one would work well.

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Dana February 4, 2013 at 12:39 pm

Our pediatrician is very mellow in terms of interventions, and hasn’t had much to say about probiotics on the pro or the con side of things. I’ve been really curious since many of my friends use probiotics for themselves and their children. Like others, I just haven’t figured out a good place to start. Thanks so much for this post! It’s exactly what I needed to spur my interest again. I will definitely be asking our pediatrician at my daughter’s upcoming 3-year appointment about what she thinks and I will be changing our approach to yogurt and potentially adding Kefir into our morning smoothies!

P.S. I’ve been having some troubles accessing the latest week of virtual book club. Am I missing something that I should be doing? I just get “page not found” on both my mobile and laptop.

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mpmk February 4, 2013 at 2:37 pm

Hi Dana,

Glad you found the info. useful – I’m in the exact same boat as you.

About the book club – I published it while I was at Alt and then didn’t have time to get the word out so I decided to take it down. The plan is to put it back up along with the last two chapters and finish the book next Weds. Sorry about the confusion! I’m going to be approaching the book club differently for the next go around – hopefully it’ll work a little better for everyone.

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Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks February 4, 2013 at 3:16 pm

We actually heard about probiotics through our pediatrician. He’s a regular, mainstream doctor who started encouraging use of probiotics when our son got his first stomach virus, probably around 6-9 months. We would sprinkle the powder in his formula and use it until the bug had passed. These days, we still only use it when any of us feel sick (mostly because it is not financially feasible for us to buy it on a regular basis).

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mpmk February 4, 2013 at 8:41 pm

It’s so interesting to hear that some “mainstream” peds are big advocates of probiotics while others, like mine, seem to have a take it or leave it attitude about them.

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Gina February 4, 2013 at 3:55 pm

I was using a probiotic powder and then a daily vitamin until a friend told me about Rainbow Light multi vitamin with probiotics – They have so much goodness in them and my kids love them!

Kids One MultiStars Chewable Multivitamin/Mineral

At a Glance:
-Nourishing vegetable juice complex and essential nutrients for healthy growth*.
-15 Million CFU probiotics support normal digestion and promote immunity*
-Complete, bioavailable formula of essential vitamins and minerals*.
-100 natural and free of artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, and preservatives
-Allergen SafeGuard: free of gluten, yeast, milk, eggs, soy, nuts, fish, and shellfish

My ped rec a probiotic when sick but I have read that good intestional health means better overall health – so these vitamins are th ebest of both worlds!

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Jessie February 4, 2013 at 4:07 pm

What a great idea! I love the idea of involving your kids (so they’ll enjoy eating those healthy foods!) And I never would have served my children sauerkraut, but now I may have to!

We go to a pretty standard doctor, but I recently visited a more holistic doctor and he suggested I go on the candida diet for a while (to help with hypothyroid issues). One of the things they suggested was to include lots of probiotics, along with taking acidophilus. I’ve been a little skeptical–would you suggest I give it a try??

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Anna February 4, 2013 at 7:50 pm

Hi Jessie,
I wouldn’t hesitate to begin flooding your diet with probiotics – including taking a probiotic supplement. Even foods rich with probiotics like kefir or sauerkraut cannot compare to the high dose you can get with a high quality supplement. As far as a Candida diet goes, I know that it is a very strict diet with the purpose of ridding the overgrowth of the Candida yeast and flooding your system with the healthy bacteria (probiotics). The goal of the diet is repairing your gut. If your doctor recommended it, and you are up for the challenge and research you have done leads you to wanting to try it, why not!? Megan Morris the “gut specialist” over at Prescribe Nutrition would be a great source of information! I will see if I can get her to chime in as well!

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mpmk February 4, 2013 at 8:42 pm

I know, I thought the same thing about sauerkraut – who knew?!

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mpmk February 4, 2013 at 8:45 pm

I just wanted to stop in and say thanks to all you lovely readers for the conversation. Of course any choice like this should be researched and discussed with your physician but I’m really enjoying the discussion.

I’m also really liking the idea of gently introducing probiotics through our family’s diet. Gonna have to pick up some sauerkraut this weekend!

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javajulz February 6, 2013 at 1:17 pm

start giving your precious babies probiotics at a few weeks. If you breast feed (I did) try giving a low oz water bottle with powdered probiotic mixed in every day. also let’s dad, grandparents, sibs, etc bond in the feeding experience. Our babies first foods were plain yogurt. they yummed it up! Even though we made “pucker” faces as we fed them! with a GOOD GUT START in life and regular chiropractic adjustments , the 1st time our kids had ANY antibiotics were when they were in high school.

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Hilary February 7, 2013 at 9:47 pm

I have a very traditional pediatrician who we really like and. I was reading this as my son is on his second course of antibiotics this year. He started demonstrating increased food resistance after the last bout but loves yogurt, we are going to have to amp up the yogurt eating in this house. And I’ll have to talk to my ped at his next appointment.

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