Bugs to avoid bugs: How probiotics can improve your child's immune system

The summer heat has finally arrived...just in time to gear up for school again! If you have small children going into day-care or school in a few weeks, consider improving your child's and your gut health to avoid those nasty bugs that inevitably go around.

Study time:

There is a plethora of research coming out recently proving that a healthy gut goes a long way to improve your digestion, mood and even your immune system. For children in day-care, that is good news, because there are things you can do as a parent to protect you and your child. There are little bugs, or healthy bacteria, that live in our gut that ward off the unhealthy bacteria that lead to illness. Probiotics are those healthy bacteria and you can add them to your child's diet, as well as yours in several ways. A 2014 meta-analysis looking at the impact probiotics have on children's immunity showed that parent and child pairs that took probiotics had fewer colds and flus, shorter duration of colds and less sick days. Taking a good quality, multi-strain probiotics is a great way to get probiotics, but also consider fermented foods, yogurt (if you or your child aren't sensitive to dairy) or coconut kefir. There are even specific children probiotics available in powder form that you can mix with juice, apple sauce or other easy foods. Also, any antibiotics (remember all those nasty ear infections), kill both bad and good bacteria so it is even more important to introduce probiotics back into gut after taking antibiotics.

But how does this work?

Surprisingly, the majority of your immune system resides in your digestion system. It is called your gut-associated lymphoid tissue, or simply GALT, and works to protect your body from invasion of any illness by producing immune cells that fight them off. It is proposed that probiotics adhere to gut tissue, in turn activating GALT. The stronger your digestion system is, the stronger your immune system will be. And remember, immune health is important at all ages so eat your probiotics! 

In health & happiness,

Dr. Karen

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