Thursday, April 4, 2013

Probiotics for Children

Probiotics are a pretty big deal nowadays, so I'm sure you've heard of them. You may have taken a probiotic supplement, or checked the side of your yogurt container to see if it contains live active cultures (yes, this is a good idea!) You may have even tried kefir, or kombucha... but are you as diligent with your children? It can be hard to get probiotics into your kids - telling them it's good for them probably won't work. There are specially made probiotics for children, but are they worth it? How do you do it? Let's talk about that...

The health benefits of probiotics include keeping your digestive system working well, reducing incidence and severity of digestive illness in children, and reducing antibiotic related digestive upset (not to mention the potential for immune benefits - the more we learn about the immune system the more we realize how closely it is related to the gut!) Hopefully with even the limited list I've given here you're saying, "Sign me up!" So, how?

There are many, many foods that contain good bacteria - I'm not going to list them all (I'm sure you can google it.) I've been most successful with freezing yogurt tubes for my daughter (she calls them "Gamine" - ice cream). My son loves Lifeway's ProBugs kefir smoothies in a pouch - it's fun to eat, and he asks for them daily. I always use whole organic dairy, and we only eat cultured dairy... if dairy isn't an option for you, consider yogurt made from goat's milk, sauerkraut, spirulina, miso soup, or even kombucha (be careful with some of these, as they could cause stomach upset if you're not used to them.) If you can't get your children to eat probiotic foods, keep working at it, but in the meantime...

There are two kinds of children's probiotic supplements that are easy to use. For younger children who won't take a tablet, there is flavorless powder you can mix into their food, breastmilk, or formula. My favorite is Children's Therelac - I take this myself from time to time because I have trouble swallowing pills. For older children, or those who are suspicious of something mixed into their food, there are flavored tablets... we've tried several and all are similar. It's probably easiest to look through the refrigerated probiotics area and find one that suits you - we need gluten-free and free of artificial colors, and then I tend to pick the one with the most strains of probiotics. 

With so many options for probiotics for children, getting them into your kids' diets shouldn't be too difficult - just keep trying until you find what works for you!

**I am not associated with any of the brands I've mentioned here - they're just what we've liked.

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