The human intestine contains a huge number of bacteria. Probiotics are a combination of beneficial bacteria that live naturally in your body.
Probiotics in foods and supplements are specific strains of live bacteria that manufacturers claim to provide health benefits when consumed in adequate quantities. The theory behind their effectiveness is based on the idea that certain kinds of germs perform specific biological functions in our intestines, and an imbalance of these germs leads to health problems. By absorbing billions of “beneficial” bacteria, we can help restore our microbiome and health.
Do all babies need probiotics?
Given the components that probiotics contain, they are considered to be absolutely safe cures even for babies in their first year of life. The microorganisms present in probiotics are representatives of the normal human flora, so they are usually well absorbed when consumed. It should be noted that the health benefits of probiotics depend on the strain, so you should consult your doctor before taking them.
Popular probiotic products, including baby formula, already contain probiotics. However, many parents wonder whether their child is getting enough probiotics with his or her food and whether probiotic supplements are necessary. Probiotics are some of the most commonly used food supplements in the world.
When are probiotics prescribed for babies?
The most important sign for prescribing probiotics is digestive issues. The doctor finds out under what conditions inconsistent stools form, whether there is enough breast milk, and the nursing woman’s diet. And in cases when it is necessary, prescribes the probiotic supplement for infants.
Probiotics work on the gut microbes, affecting immune mechanisms in the intestinal mucosa, contributing to the production of beneficial metabolic products, interacting with beneficial and harmful bacteria. All this leads to the suppression of pathogenic (harmful) microbiota, increased growth of beneficial bacteria, reduced inflammation in the intestinal wall, and strengthened the GI tract barrier. These mechanisms and effects help reduce the frequency and severity of diarrhea, which is the most common reason for prescribing probiotics in children.
Probiotics for babies are more often used in liquid form. Parents can instantly drip drops into the mouth – it is more difficult to dilute dry powders in sachets or capsules. At the same time, there is no difference between children’s and adults’ products, and it’s more a marketing ploy. With the right probiotic, the stool frequency and consistency improve.
What are the most common probiotics?
The most commonly used and studied probiotics are strains of two main species.
Bifidobacteria is a type of bacteria generally used in supplements and baby foods to:
- Boost the baby’s immune system
- Limit the growth of pathogenic bacteria in the gut
- Help break down lactose into nutrients to enrich the body
Lactobacilli produces an enzyme that breaks down lactose or milk sugar. The other significant function of these bacteria species is also to produce lactic acid. Lactic acid helps regulate the population of harmful germs.
There is a huge variety of probiotics for babies available today, and you can find such supplements at any pharmacy. And although these products are considered safe, you should not prescribe them to your child by yourself. Before giving probiotics to your baby, it is essential to consult a doctor and have tests done to determine exactly which bacteria are lacking and which are in excess.