You’ve probably been hearing a lot about probiotics lately. Everyone’s talking about them, blogging about them, there’s commercials on TV promoting them and health professionals prescribe them. Are they as important as everyone makes out them out to be?
More and more research has proven (and continuous to prove) that probiotics (good bacteria) are an essential necessity, not only for digestion, but for optimal health. These little bacteria are found throughout our bodies and play an important and vital role in everything! From immunity, digestion and nutritional assimilation to heart and metabolic processes. They protect us from disease, affect whether were fat or thin, affect our nutritional status and contribute to our rate of aging (1). Check out image below.
Photo Credit: Google Images
How can probiotics play such an important role in so many different areas?
There are literally thousands (many still unidentified) of different strains and species, and they all have various roles and functions in the body (1).
Where do they come from?
Most internal probiotics originate from our environment, particularly during infancy. In utero, vaginal births, breast feeding, hygiene, amount of siblings and foods that are eaten, all contribute to the initial colonization of bacteria and, in an ideal environment, remain stable through adulthood (1).
Unfortunately, our current environment is NOT ideal. Even if we were born vaginally, breast fed, never washed with antibacterial soaps and had a handful of siblings running around us, our current environment continuously depletes our bacterial colonies, leaving us more susceptible to all sorts of health issues. Excessive hygiene, current food production processes and preparation, chlorine in water, antibiotics, caffeine, alcohol, smoking, and over the counter medications are all just a few ways that our daily environment kills off our probiotic reserves (1).
Not only are we indirectly killing off our good bacteria but we're also not consuming enough foods that help replenish them. Ideally, if we ate traditionally fermented foods on a regular basis, we’d not only replenish our colonies but we’d also add in thousands of different strains that are not native to our digestive tracks and that are NOT produced by our bodies, but are still just as vital (1).
While I do try and provide fermented foods on a regular basis for myself and for my family (after all I do host workshops on fermentation!) I’m not always able to serve it and/or they don’t always eat it. Busy schedules and finicky eater’s results with me having to secretly supplement.
How do I do it?
I put it in their milk.
This is the brand I use.***
Photo Credit: Google Images
My kids LOVE chocolate milk, so every morning I take a capsule and dump it in. I then shake it to make sure it all dissolves, hand it over and voila! They drink it up!
The secret to this technique is to NOT have them actually see you put the probiotic in. While my kids are now used to me doing this, and are somewhat ok with it, I still do it in secret. As children they still sometimes say no and refuse to drink it. It does NOT change the taste of milk, they just resist ;).
Kids don’t drink milk? No problem, you can add it anywhere you’d like. Mac and cheese, oatmeal, cereal, anything that has a liquid or slightly liquid consistency can be used as a vehicle. Just make sure to add it in after the food or drink has cooled so as to not kill off any bacteria.
So even if you did exclusively breast feed, ate lots of fermented foods while pregnant and nursing, and had many kids running around, the secret supplementation of probiotics in your children’s diet (and in yours if needed!) is an absolute must in today’s not so probiotic friendly world.
*This is NOT an affiliate link.
*You can use a variety of probiotic brands, just make sure that they’re in capsule or powder form so as to be able to mix it in food or drink.
*Not all probiotics are the same. Some are more potent and diverse than others. See here. https://labdoor.com/rankings/probiotics
(1) Digestive Wellness. Elizabeth Lipski, Ph.D., CCN, CHN