Probiotics seem to be popping up everywhere these days. From the drugstore to every aisle in the grocery store, from kombucha to coconut kefir, probiotics are the new “hot” health supplement.
But what are they and why should your family be taking them? Here are 5 things you should know about probiotics:
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are living microorganisms like bacteria that are frequently called the “good bacteria.” Probiotics help the digestive system get rebalanced, fighting off the harmful bacteria and helping rebuild a healthy digestive system after a round of antibiotics.
There are a variety of probiotic strains that are very similar to the bacteria found naturally in the gut. Each strain has different effects on the digestive system, and they each have various benefits. The most prominent strains of probiotics are:
The lactobacillus is one of the most beneficial strains of probiotic bacteria. It is a lactic acid bacterium that helps support healthy digestion and can naturally support relief and recovery from colic or diarrhea. Lactobacillus rhamnosus is a probiotic that is often remarked upon for promoting a healthy gut environment and boosting the immune system.
Lactobacillus Plantarum is a strain of probiotics that helps produce the amino acid L. lysine, a protein that is vital for absorbing calcium, producing hormones and improving the immune system. It lives naturally in the gut, but it can also be found in cultured vegetables like kimchi, cultured vegetables, and sauerkraut.
Lactobacillus Plantarum is vital for newborns and pregnant women. Pregnant women need this strain of probiotic to line the cell membranes with probiotic culture to help them stay healthy. Newborns require it to establish a well-balanced inner ecosystem, helping to prevent colic and bowel disorders.
Bifidobacterium longum helps the acid levels present in digestive juices to stay balanced. It is one of the earliest probiotic to develop in the infant’s digestive system.
Bifidobacterium longum stimulates the immune system by combating infections. It can even help prevent respiratory infections in infants! It benefits the digestive system by improving the flora in the GI tract, preventing diarrhea, and preventing intestinal inflammation.
How do probiotics work?
Probiotics stay temporarily in the gastrointestinal tract, which means it’s something your family needs to take consistently to get the benefits. While there, they help prevent pathogens from releasing toxins. They also help improve the barrier in the digestive tract, preventing pathogens from entering the bloodstream and allowing nutrients to be absorbed efficiently.
Probiotics also work in the gut to help absorb nutrients like carbohydrates and vitamins, ensuring that the digestive tract is efficiently converting the carbs into nutrients and guaranteeing the vitamins get absorbed properly.
Probiotics also help rebalance the flora in the digestive tract when you take antibiotics. Antibiotics will the bacteria in your system, often killing the good bacteria along with the bad. When you take probiotics with your antibiotic, it restores your healthy microbes faster, letting the antibiotics do their work while helping your system remain balanced. The probiotics can also reduce the side effects of antibiotics like diarrhea, gas, or stomach cramping.
Probiotics map help your baby with colic, diarrhea, and other digestive issues
When babies are first born, the only flora they have is colonized from the mom’s birth canal. Those that are born during a cesarean will gain bacteria from mom’s skin, but not as much as through a vaginal birth.
This means that when you bring your newborn home, her digestive system is still developing and the healthy bacteria is still being colonized. Because the digestive system is still forming, it can be difficult for infants to break down the foods, causing colic or acid reflux.
Babies who have colic, diarrhea, or other digestive issues can benefit from taking probiotics. Studies have shown that babies given probiotics, either through breast milk or supplements, will have fewer bouts of acid reflux, constipation, gas, and colic.
These gastrointestinal issues are eased with probiotics because they help break down the foods and keep the digestive system healthy. It’s particularly important to ensure your baby is getting probiotics if you or your baby are taking antibiotics. Their systems are more delicate and are more prone to diarrhea if they are taking in antibiotics. Because antibiotics kill bacteria, it will upset the balance in your baby’s intestines, causing diarrhea.
Probiotics vs. Prebiotics
Both are tiny microorganisms found in the gut. However, prebiotics are specialized fibers that nourish the probiotics that are already in the GI tract. Prebiotics team up with the probiotics to improve health by maintaining the balance of intestinal bacteria and reducing inflammation.
Probiotics add the good bacteria to the gut, but prebiotics act as a kind of fertilizer for probiotics, allowing them to grow and thrive.
Probiotics end up getting absorbed by the body, which is why you take them every day to keep the healthy bacteria plentiful. Prebiotics, however, are not destroyed in the body and play a role in nutrient absorption and overall digestive health.
Where do you get probiotics and how often do you take them?
Adults can absorb probiotics most easily in fermented food or dietary supplements. Probiotics are found in Kimchi, yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut and a variety of other fermented foods.
When looking at probiotic supplements, make sure you are looking at the strains of probiotics.
For infants, probiotics are readily absorbed through breast milk (which is why mom should be taking them too!) Breast milk provides probiotics naturally and adds in the immunoglobulin A, which helps keep the gut lining sealed, preventing any pathogens from entering the bloodstream.
There are also a variety of probiotic supplements available for your baby. Mommy’s Bliss Probiotic Drops have over 1 billion Lactobacillus rhamnosus cells per serving, helping promote a healthy gut environment for your newborn while supporting their immune system. It may also help prevent colic and diarrhea by helping your baby’s digestive system break down the foods and move through the system faster.
Probiotics should be taken frequently, if not daily, to keep replenishing the healthy bacteria in the gut and promote healthy immune functions.
Looking for Digestive Health Boosters?
If you are looking for even more of a digestive health booster for your baby, try Mommy’s Bliss Probiotic Drops + Vitamin D. These drops contain the same amount of Lactobacillus rhamnosus but with the added benefit of 400 IU of Vitamin D.
It has all of the above benefits of probiotics, but with the addition of all the benefits of the recommended dose of vitamin D. Vitamin D will help your baby absorb calcium and ensure healthy bone growth. It teams up with the probiotics to give your baby an even bigger immunity boost!
If your baby has had diarrhea because of antibiotics or other digestive upsets, try the Mommy’s Bliss Probiotic Drops 15 Day Boost. These drops replenish the healthy bacteria that were killed off from the antibiotics.
Each of these probiotics can help your baby’s digestive system flourish and may help boost their immune system.