Probioitics & Prebiotics

Eating probiotic and prebiotic containing foods help maintain a healthy gut. A healthy gut has a tremendous impact on our health and well-being long term.  A healthy, balanced microbiome plays a large part in our  defense against illnesses.

Probiotics

Probiotics are “good bacteria” that help maintain a healthy balance of the microbiome.  These bacteria help compete against the overgrowth of less healthy bacteria and yeast, make vitamins, make immune compounds that fight infection, and so much more. Probiotics can be found foods, especially fermented foods, and in supplement form.

There is some research that indicates probiotics found in foods stay in the gut longer than those found in supplements and MAY be better for repopulating the gut long term.  Supplemental probiotics are more transient, but do produce changes in the gut (and thus the body) while the supplement is “passing through”.

We recommend all infants and children who are eating solids eat probiotic containing foods.  Fermented foods, the foods that most commonly contain probiotics, often have a unique flavor that takes some gettign used to.  Introducing these flavors early can make a tremendous difference in getting your child to adopt these foods.  Keep trying the foods regularly and repeatedly if your child has resistance.

Some children will benefit from probiotics in a supplement form.  Talk to your provider about which probiotic may be ideal for your child.

Probiotic Containing Foods

  • Yogurt (dairy, coconut) – be cautious of sugar content.  Consider getting plain, full fat yogurt and adding frozen fruits to reduce sugar content.
  • Kefir (water and milk)
  • Kombucha
  • Miso
  • Raw sauerkraut – “raw” means it is fermented, not cooked and added to vinegar base
  • Raw pickles
  • Kimchi
  • Natto
  • Tempeh

Prebiotics

Prebiotics are the complex sugars, starches, and fibers that feed the good bacteria in your gut.  Preboitics have a tremendous impact on the balance of the gut microbiome and can support the production of very important chemicals in the gut. One such chemical is a “short chain fatty acid” which is the food source for the lining of the gut and can promote healing of the gut.

Prebiotics are found in many foods, but there are also supplemental versions as well.  All children (and adults) should eat prebiotic containing foods on a daily basis.  Ask your provider if you have questions about whether your child may benefit from a supplemental version.

Prebiotic Foods

  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Chicory root
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Jerusalem artichoke
  • Fermentable fiber [inulin, FOS]
  • Resistant starch [cooled boiled potatoes/rice, plantains, green bananas, beans/lentils]

A note on gassiness, bloating, and abdominal discomfort:  If your child is “new” to these foods or supplements, doing too much too fast can cause some abdominal discomfort.  Gradually increasing the frequency and volume over time can reduce these symptoms.

 

General and Medical Disclaimer
The ideas and opinions expressed in this blog are informational only, based on the current data at the time of writing, accurate to the knowledge of the author, and not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for your child’s pediatric provider. Please seek medical attention from the appropriate medical professionals if you have any health concerns about yourself or your child. The publisher and author(s) of this site are not responsible for any errors or omissions in any content herein nor to be held liable for the ideas and opinions expressed. Information provided in this website DOES NOT create a provider-patient relationship between you and any provider affiliated. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.