Gut health has been a trendy topic lately, and for good reason! A healthy gut is at the center of your overall wellness as it helps to support a strong immune system, reduce inflammation, maintain mental health and even positively impact cardiovascular health. Additionally, a healthy gut also helps ensure your body can properly absorb nutrients within your digestive tract.1
We can agree that all the above sounds very important. But, what about gut health in children? Is it something we should be concerned about and if so, how can we help support a healthy gut for our little ones? Here’s what to consider:
Start with Your Pediatrician
As with any new supplement or dietary change, it’s important to consult with your child’s pediatrician if you have any questions or concerns about their gut health. Not only are they the most qualified professional when it comes to your child’s health, but they also may have specific advice or input based on your child’s unique needs. It’s also important to note that children with autoimmune disorders or cancer could be at increased risk of infection from probiotic supplements.2
The potential benefits of consuming probiotics for children are largely the same as adults. Various strains of “good” bacteria in your gut are responsible for helping to breakdown fats and proteins consumed. Your digestive tract is home to well over 500 different species of bacteria, all of which are vital to nutrient digestion and absorption. The population of good and bad bacteria living in your digestive tract is called your “gut flora” or microbiome. When combinations of diet, stress, illness, or medications throw gut flora off balance, discomforts and health problems may result. Refreshing the body’s population of “good bacteria” can help improve digestive health, as well as support immune system and cardiovascular system function.3 Some studies also suggest that probiotics may be helpful in reducing the effects of certain allergies in children, as well as potentially reducing instances of respiratory infections.4
The great thing is there are a lot of kid-friendly foods that have probiotics! A few fermented foods that are great sources of probiotics include the following5:
- Cottage Cheese
- Pickled vegetables
A diet rich in prebiotic fiber, which means plenty of fresh produce, also helps support a healthy microbiome. These prebiotic fiber sources help to feed the “good bacteria” in your gut.6
Maintaining a perfectly healthy diet can be challenging, especially for picky little eaters! Once you’ve got the greenlight from your doctor, a probiotic supplement is a great way to help support your child’s gut health. A few key things to check for are a probiotic supplement that is:
- Approved for children: kids have different needs than adults and it’s important to stick with a product that’s safe for them!
- Includes Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium: These two strains of bacteria have the most health benefits and have been extensively studied7
- Easy for kids to take: pills can be a potential choking hazard for young children, so it’s safer to stick with probiotics that are easier to take in either a liquid, gummy or powdered form.
Looking for a great probiotic for your kids? Probiotic FastMelt® is a convenient, fast-melting probiotic powder that provides 3 billion CFUs of friendly bacteria (probiotic) and prebiotics, which supports proliferation of good bacteria in the gut.* It comes in an easy-to-take powdered form, in two delicious flavors: Wild Berry or limited time Café Latte and it’s approved for ages 4+.
- Clapp, M., Aurora, N., Herrera, L., Bhatia, M., Wilen, E., & Wakefield, S. (2017). Gut microbiota’s effect on mental health: the gut-brain axis. Clinics and Practice, 7(4). https://doi.org/10.4081/cp.2017.987
- The pros and cons of probiotics for kids. (n.d.). Www.geisinger.org. https://www.geisinger.org/health-and-wellness/wellness-articles/2018/02/09/13/53/the-pros-and-cons-of-probiotics-for-kids
- Ciorba M. A. (2012). A gastroenterologist’s guide to probiotics. Clinical gastroenterology and hepatology : the official clinical practice journal of the American Gastroenterological Association, 10(9), 960–968. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cgh.2012.03.024
- Savilahti, E. (2011). Probiotics in the Treatment and Prevention of Allergies in Children. Bioscience and Microflora, 30(4), 119–128. https://doi.org/10.12938/bifidus.30.119
- Pandey, C. (2022, July 29). 8 Best Probiotic Foods for Kids. Sun Genomics. https://flore.com/blogs/learn/best-probiotic-foods-for-kids
- Korczak, R., Kamil, A., Fleige, L., Donovan, S. M., & Slavin, J. L. (2017). Dietary fiber and digestive health in children. Nutrition Reviews, 75(4), 241–259. https://doi.org/10.1093/nutrit/nuw068
- Probiotics: What You Need To Know. (2019, August). NCCIH. https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/probiotics-what-you-need-to-know