Why are microbiomes important to health?
Everyone has a unique microbiome that houses nearly 100 trillion bacteria. They outnumber our human cells by a factor of 10 to 1. Approximately 85 percent of them are beneficial probiotics. These good guys help kids produce vitamins, absorb nutrients, regulate their immune system, and may even influence their mood.
Building your child’s microbiome
The first couple of years of a child’s life are crucial for proper microbiome development. Although a baby’s gut is mostly sterile in the womb, the major microbial inoculation begins as the baby descends through the birth canal, picking up vaginal bacteria along the way. Breast milk also provides tons of microbes. As a child begins to eat solid foods, their microbiome continues to evolve based upon dietary intake and environmental factors. By about age 2, a toddler’s microbiome resembles that of an adult.
Making sure your baby’s microbiome develops properly starts with nurturing your own microbiome during pregnancy. Because you pass your own microbes on to your baby during delivery and through your breast milk, the health of your microbiome sets the stage for your baby’s microbiome development and long-term wellness. If you don’t have enough of the good microbes to pass on, your baby won’t inherit what’s needed for proper microbial and immune system development. Taking a prenatal probiotic formula with six targeted strains will fortify your gut, so you deliver plenty of the good bacteria to your little one.
Breast milk is full of beneficial microbes and special nutrients that feed and nourish the probiotics so they can thrive. But, it doesn’t stop there. A flourishing microbiome is the result of conscious attention and care throughout childhood. Be sure to feed those good bacteria with mom- and kid-friendly prebiotics, including bananas, oats, and honey.
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The best probiotic strains for kids
To give kids’ microbiomes a boost, some parents may opt for supplements, and kids need their own formula. The right daily, time-released probiotic supplement can work to continually replenish essential beneficial bacteria to help kids feel and function at their best. Don’t be tempted by child-friendly gummies with added sugars. Look for an effective multi-strain kids’ probiotic formula with three or more probiotic strains that are specifically beneficial for growing bodies and are also resident to the human digestive system. Make sure they are formulated to withstand the stomach acid of the digestive tract, so your kid gets a steady and potent dose of gut-friendly goodness.
There are also chewable, oral probiotic strains, BLIS K12 and BLIS M18, specifically helpful for supporting the good bacteria that live in kids’ mouths and throats. This strain has been shown to benefit ear, nose, throat, and upper respiratory health and should be taken in conjunction with a digestive formula.
Fermented foods such as sauerkraut are loaded with probiotics, but we all know kids can be picky with such strong flavors. So encourage them to eat yogurt with live or active cultures. Even some soft cheeses such cottage cheese contain beneficial microbes.
Play in the dirt
Of course, good hand washing physically removes disease-causing germs. Just be careful about over-sanitizing. There’s much to be said about old-fashioned soap and water. I’m not a fan of antibacterial soaps because they kill the good bacteria as well as the bad. This is such a concern that some companies are now removing the antibacterial ingredients from their hand soaps.
And speaking of dirt, get outside and play in the dirt with your kids! Whether it’s gardening or making mud pies, this is therapeutic as well as healthy. Shielding kids from dirt may weaken their immune systems. Plus, play helps to alleviate stress, a well-known microbiome diminisher.
The short-term benefits of kid-friendly probiotics may include healthier guts and fewer upset stomachs. Long-term, you’ll be helping to prepare their bodies for a lifetime of better wellness.
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