Support Your Child’s Gut Health
June 03, 2021
Kids have a tendency to touch, well, everything! It’s inevitable, your child will get sick but there is a way to combat the germs your child encounters. We all know that vitamin C helps support your immune system and eating your fruits and vegetables helps you stay healthy. But what about your gut health? Your microbiome, or the many microorganisms that live in your body, can play a huge role in you and your child’s health. Check out what you can do to support, not only your child’s gut health but also their bodies overall well-being!
What is the microbiome?
The microbiome in simple terms is all the microbes that live inside our body. And there are a lot of microbes, trillions in fact. There are more microbes than actual human cells. It might be helpful to think of these little microbes as a large army inside your body. Some are fighting to keep you healthy, but there are some bad ones that make you sick. It is a balancing act where an estimated 500 to 1000 different types live within us and our children. This large army of tiny little microbes outnumbers the number of cells in the body and carries more genes than human cells. The research on these microbes first began with trying to describe and identify the different types of microbes, but today research is more focused on the mechanisms of action and finding solutions to improve human health.[1-2]
Why is the microbiome important?
It was once believed that microbiome science was all about the gut. Today, the science shows that it contributes to many different areas of health that directly or indirectly impact most physiologic functions. It makes sense that microbes could help fight against pathogens, because they are a first line of defense or a barrier to the outside world.
The research on our microbiome has been focused on how these microbes interact with our immune system to keep our families healthy, how microbes impact our endocrine system or the hormones in the body, to how these microbes influence our nervous system activity, which impacts our brains. These systems are then correlated to a wide number of health conditions that are impacted by our microbiome such as our health, skin, brains, hearts, the list goes on and on. The connection is so direct between our gut and other areas of our bodies, that some experts have labeled our gut as a “second brain”. This is because of the crosstalk between the gut and our brain in a complex communication system.[1, 2]
The microbiome is highly personalized
Interestingly, the types of microbes in your body are probably very different from the ones inside your child or anyone else for that matter. This means that different people and children have radically different collections of microbes that vary by type and quantity of these microbes. The differences in microbiomes between individuals is even more complicated by the uniqueness of an individuals’ microbiome.
The distribution and abundance of microbiome species also varies considerably in different locations of the body. Bacteriodes, Bifidobacterium, Streptococcus, Enterobacteriaceaa, Enterococcus, Clostridium, Lactobacillus, and Ruminoccus are the dominant types of microbes in the intestines, while Clostridium, Lactobacillus, Enterococcus, and Akkermansia are the dominant types of microbes in the mucosa-associated surfaces like the nasal passageway and bronchial tubes. You and your child’s body is like a gigantic ecosystem because of how complex, diverse, and unique this system is in each individual. This is one of many reasons why scientists can’t agree on what would be a “perfect” microbiome, because what is perfect for you, may not be perfect for someone else.[2-3]
Factors that impact the microbiome
Your chlid’s microbiome was mostly formed at birth and was impacted by the mode of delivery and what you fed your baby. This rapid growth of the microbiome in the early stages of life continues to be developed through childhood and is impacted by diet and environment. Specifically, regarding diet and the foods we eat as kids or adults, probiotics and prebiotics can have a positive impact on our microbiome. Naturally occurring probiotics can come from foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi, miso, kombucha, natto, and more. But think about your diet, do you get enough probiotics from food alone?
Prebiotics, on the other hand, are special fibers that feed the microbes in our gut and come from foods like chicory root, garlic, onions, asparagus, bananas, barley, oats, apples, flaxseed, and much more. While there are good foods and supplements with these ingredients to support our microbiome, there are factors that can disturb or disrupt our microbiome like poor diets, infection, antibiotics, stress, illness, travel, and other factors.
The importance of probiotics
Since we know our microbiome can impact many aspects of our health, what can we do to support our microbiome? Probiotics are a great solution to help heal the gut and provide more of the beneficial bacteria into our body. We can get probiotics that naturally occur in some foods, as listed above, which most people are unlikely getting from their diet and/or supplements on a consistent basis (especially kids).
Any parent knows that getting your child to eat healthy can be a struggle! Now try adding kefir or chicory root to their diet. Children already lack many essential nutrients they need from their food choices. Nonetheless, probiotics are important for our overall health, no matter what age you are.
Probiotics are a general term for good bacteria to help keep your body healthy. Now don’t be alarmed, I said good bacteria. There are good and bad bacteria, and probiotics help to improve the ratio of good to bad bacteria in the body. But not all probiotics are created equal. When selecting a probiotic supplement for your child be sure to select one that will colonize in the gut, delivers an effective dose, has good stability, provides the specific identity of the strain(s) used, and is made specifically for kids.
If a probiotic won’t colonize because 1) it is “eaten” up by the acidic environment of the stomach, 2) is not at an effective dose, or 3) isn’t stable throughout its shelf life, it probably isn’t delivering the intended benefits. The specific identity of the bacteria strain used is important as well. When these qualities are met and the product is created for children, it helps ensure that the product will work effectively for your children. Our solution to all of this, a probiotic made specifically for kids.
Probiotic for Kids
That’s where Pharmanex® Kids Defendables comes in. This kids’ probiotic contains microbes/strains that have been studied in children. It has 5 billion colony forming units with four unique strains, and is backed by a brand you can trust—Pharmanex, known for its long history of creating safe and effective products. We carefully selected the combination of four different strains. The four specific strains in our blend includeLactobacillus Rhamnosus GG, Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07, Lactobacillus Paracasei Lpc-37, and Lactobacillus Acidophilus La-14. These strains are shown to provide the key benefits to your child which include:
- Helping to keep the digestive system running smoothly and helping maintain regularity
- Working naturally with your child’s body to help support healthy immunity and digestive health
- Supporting the responses of natural defense and general wellness
- Supporting a healthy microbiome by boosting good bacteria
Let’s look at a few studies that support these benefits. The first is a study with Lactobacillus Rhamnosus GG given to kids where, compared to the placebo, the kids receiving this probiotic missed fewer days in daycare over the course of three months. This is an example of Defendables immune support benefits. Another good example of this strain is a study where children at a hospital also took Lactobacillus Rhamnosus GG. The number of kids with gastrointestinal discomfort was much lower compared to the number of kids in the placebo group, showing that it supports digestive health. There are many other studies that show the benefits of Defendables.
As we briefly mentioned before, stability is another important criteria for a quality probiotic, and Defendables meets our strict standards. It is packaged in a double walled bottle for improved stability with an outer layer to protect against the environment, and an inner layer that acts as a desiccant to help prevent moisture from getting into the product. As a result of this innovative packaging, Defendables does not require refrigeration before opening. We do recommend refrigerating after opening for best quality. This allows us to guarantee the 5 billion colony forming units at the end of shelf life.
We can’t wait for your children to get their hands on this delicious probiotic blend that comes in a fun, soft chewable tablet. It comes in a berry flavor, and was made with no artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners or preservatives. Taking care of our guts is a lifelong adventure, so it’s best to start young!
- Gilbert JA, Blaser MJ, Caporaso JG, Jansson JK, Lynch SV, Knight R. Current understanding of the human microbiome. Nat Med. 2018;24(4):392-400. doi:10.1038/nm.4517
- Hills RD Jr, Pontefract BA, Mishcon HR, Black CA, Sutton SC, Theberge CR. Gut Microbiome: Profound Implications for Diet and Disease. Nutrients. 2019;11(7):1613. Published 2019 Jul 16. doi:10.3390/nu11071613
- Gagliardi A, Totino V, Cacciotti F, et al. Rebuilding the Gut Microbiota Ecosystem. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018;15(8):1679. Published 2018 Aug 7. doi:10.3390/ijerph15081679