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Prebiotics End School Sick Days
by Barbara Minton
(The Best Years in Life) Getting kids outfitted and ready to go back to school can be budget busting, but here is one more thing you might want to buy. Probiotics can strengthen your children's immune systems and help them withstand the onslaught of bacteria so typical of a school or daycare environment. There are probiotics formulas designed specifically for children that can help them stay healthy and free of colds, flu and allergies so they are present at school every day and alert and attentive to what is being taught.
We are accustomed to the wonders antibiotics can perform in sick children, but many parents have never heard about probiotics. Yet probiotics can be even more essential to children's overall wellbeing, keeping them healthy in the way nature intended.
The human intestinal tract is normally home to millions of friendly bacteria that stand like guardians over the immune system. These friendly bacteria defend the cells of the intestinal tract and keep unfriendly bacteria, viruses, yeasts and molds in check. One of the reasons children feel so energized and well after a good night's sleep is that, while they were sleeping, their friendly bacteria were doing housekeeping chores and vanquishing foreign invaders while keeping them safe and sound.
Our ancestors could usually count on this system to keep their children healthy and allow them to grow into sturdy adults. But life in the modern world is hard on friendly bacteria. Pesticides and chemical food additives destroy friendly bacteria, leaving children vulnerable and defenseless against hostile invading bacteria and other pathogens. And clorine in the water system and air pollution also take their toll. The worst thing that can happen to children's guardian bacteria is having to take antibiotics. This is because antibiotics are indiscriminate killers, killing off the guardians as well as the enemies.
The only way to keep children's friendly bacteria at optimal levels is by adding special fermented or cultured foods like kefir or sauerkraut to children's diets or by using
a children's probiotic formula such as Pedia Biotic to restore the balance of friendly bacteria. After the use of antibiotics, this is critical. When antibiotics have killed off beneficial bacteria, children are especially prone to poor digestion, tummy troubles, infection, allergies, asthma, Crohn's disease and even cancer.
The World Health Organization (WHO), a division of the United Nations, has spoken out in favor of probiotic supplements for children and also for adults. WHO officials issued a statement saying that live microorganisms in probiotics, when administered consistently, provide health benefits.
Scientists are studying probiotic supplements for their effects on specific disorders. Of particular interest is their use against chronic intestinal inflammatory diseases that cause such life altering symptoms as diarrhea, urogenital infections, and atopic disorders.
Many scientists and doctors endorse probiotic use for children, and point out that it is particularly important for children who were born by C-section and did not get exposed to the immune boosting friendly bacteria present in the birth canal. They note that the immune system as well as the digestive system must be healthy and robust during childhood to serve as the precursors for good health as an adult. And when children's young stomachs are healthier and better able to digest food, they are much less likely to succumb to sickness and disease.
Even if your child is not routinely taking a probiotic formula, administering it at the first sign of cold or flu can bolster his/her immune system to the point where the symptoms will not take hold. For children who are already ill with such diseases as Crohn's, allergies, asthma or even just those suffering from acne, a probiotic formula may bring lasting relief.
There is solid science behind probiotics
Here is a sampling of some of the latest probiotic research findings:
Consumption of a strain of Bifidobacterium and prebiotic-fortified milk resulted in a smaller number of iron-deficient preschoolers and increased weight gain in those who were underweight. After a period of one year, the risk of being anemic and iron deficient was reduced by 45% and weight gain was increased by 13% on average.
Scientists in Belgium reported specific gastrointestinal effects of probiotics such as alleviating inflammatory bowel disease, reducing acute diarrhea in children, inhibiting Salmonella and Helicobacter pylori, and secreting enzymes and bacteriocins that modulate the immune system. They discovered the "probiotic paradox." that both live and dead cells in probiotic products generate beneficial biological responses, suggesting a dual action. Live probiotic cells influence both the gastrointestinal microflora and the immune response, while the components of dead cells exert an anti-inflammatory response in the gastrointestinal tract.
Milk is the most common food allergen in the USA and UK, followed by egg, peanut and walnuts. Sensitization to milk or egg in infancy is associated with an increased risk of developing house mite sensitization and asthma later in childhood, according to scientists in Italy. They found that friendly intestinal bacteria plays a role in the induction of tolerance to these substances, and stress the importance of friendly bacteria at early ages in preventing the onset of food allergies when the mucosal barrier and immune system are still immature. The scientists found that probiotics interact with the mucosal immune system by the same pathways as friendly bacteria grown naturally in the intestinal tract. They noted other recent studies that show probiotic bacteria induced in vivo increased plasma levels of immune modulators such as IL-10 and IgA in children with allergic predisposition. They note that many clinical studies have reported significant benefits from probiotic supplementation in food allergy prevention and management.
In Norway scientists have reported that certain probiotics given to mothers and children at risk of atopy (the genetic tendency to develop classic allergic diseases) cut in half the incidence of atopic dermatitis at two years of age. To further investigate, they examined whether probiotics given to pregnant women could prevent sensitization or allergic diseases during the child's first two years of life. Two strains of Lactobacillus and one strain of Bifidobacterium were given during the final 36 weeks of gestation and three months post-natal during breastfeeding. At two years of age, 138 children in the group receiving probiotics and 140 children from the placebo group were assessed. The cumulative incidence of atopic dermatisis was significantly reduced in the group receiving probiotics compared to the control group.
Epidemiological data show that allergic children have a different composition of intestinal flora than healthy children, characterized by higher levels of Clostridia and lower levels of Bifidobacteria. In healthy non-allergic children, Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus are abundant. Scientists in Turkey reported that adding probiotic foods or using a probiotic supplement prevents and treats allergic diseases, especially allergic rhinitis and immunoglobulin E sensitized eczema.
At the Children's Memorial Health Institute in Poland, researchers studied strains of Lactobacillus in blood cell cultures obtained from children with atopic dermatisis. They found that probiotic mixture induced production of anti-allergic T(H)1cytokines and regulatory transforming growth factor beta. The mixture of strains remarkably enhanced the T(H)1 production compared to single strains.
Other research from Italy notes that current interest in probiotics as therapeutic agents against H. pylori is stimulated not only by the clinical data showing efficacy in different gastrointestinal diseases but also by the increasing resistance of pathogenic bacteria to antibiotics. Both in vitro and in vivo investigations provided evidence that probiotics represent a novel approach to the management of disease without side effects.
Nearly all children will experience at least one episode of acute gastroenteritis (AGE) by the age of three years. It is a common cause of pediatric ward admissions, but most often the disease is mild. At Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Israel researchers presented guidelines for diagnosis and management of pediatric AGE. After a systematic review of all relevant literature, they concluded that probiotics may shorten diarrhea episodes and reduce severity.
Scientists at the University of Chicago Comer Children's Hospital reported that probiotics have had many applications in the past few years in inflammatory conditions of the gastrointestinal tract , including chronic disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease. In ulcerative colitis, several probiotic formulations have been found effective as adjuvant therapy, inducing and maintaining remission.
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