Thursday, September 12, 2013

Should we use probiotics on our babies?

1. Why do we need good bacteria in our body?

Trillions of microorganism including at least 1000 species of bacteria live in the human intestines. 

We need good bacteria as good bacteria:

  • helps body to digest certain foods that the stomach and small intestine cannot digest 
  • ferments dietary fiber into short chain fatty acids 
  • helps with the production of vitamin B and K
  • crowds out harmful bacteria by competing with them for nutrition and preventing their attachment to and entry into epithelial cells
  • helps to strengthen the immune system:

Scientists infected 2 groups of mice with viral germs. 

The first group had normal gut bacteria. The second group did not have gut bacteria because they were treated with antibiotics or bred under sterile conditions. 
Compared to the first group, the second group's immune response was greatly reduced and the disease took a more severe course in them.

Recent research has revealed that butyrate, a byproduct of the digestion of dietary fiber by gut microbiota, boost the immune system by inducing the production of regulatory T cells in the gut. 

2. Is there any Relationship between intestinal bacteria and heart diseases?

Yes, if our diet is on meat-based, the gut bacteria will produce a sticky compound which can clog our arteries and leads to heart disease. 

The sticky compound is called TMAO. 

What is TMAO - called trimethylamine-N-oxide? Click below to understand more.

Measuring TMAO level in blood may serve as an accurate screening tool for predicting future risks of heart attacks, stroke and death. According to the findings of a study involving about 4000 subjects over 3 year period, higher levels of TMAO in the blood were associated with a higher risk of death and non-fatal heart attack or stroke. 

3. Why Probiotics are being introduced?

Probiotics in the form of dietary supplements (capsules, powder, tablets), in dairy products (cultured milk drink, yoghurts) are available in the market.

Common probiotic bacteria added are: 
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus, 
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus, 
  • Lactobacillus gasseri
  • Bifidobacterium bifidum 

Probiotics may help in short run for diarrhea, stomach upset after antibiotics use
because they crowd out the bad bacteria. 

***However, experts caution that more research is needed to determine the safety and efficacy of long term use of probiotics. 

4. What are the safety concerns involved by using probiotics supplements or drink?

Probiotics supplements may not be effective (or for long term solution) as
  • Number of bacteria strains from the probiotics supplements is not enough. 
  • Good bacteria varies from people to people 
  • Probiotics are quickly flushed out of GI tract when one stops consuming them, hence continued intake is required (leading to dependancy). 

FDA have not approved any health claims for probiotics 

They are NOT suitable for:

  • People with inflamed pancreas cannot use probiotics
  • Children more easily get allergy, causing problems such as breathing difficulties, hives, vomiting, diarrhea and coughing by long term consumption of probiotics
  • People using corticosteroid, chemotherapy, organ transplant, AIDS, cannot use probiotics
  • People with weak immune system, for example the young, elderly, those with weakened immune system are not suitable to use probiotics, they should seek advice from a health care provider before using probiotics, as they may induce potentially fatal conditions. 
  • Note that the probiotics used in many probiotics drinks in the market - require milk /dairy products as a medium to grow. They will produce TMAO in our body when they are in our body and may lead to cardiovascular diseases for long term intake. 
  • More information from:

5. What are the natural approach to ensure sufficient good bacteria?

Good bacteria are supposed to grow on their own naturally when the intestinal environment is healthy. 

We don't have to replenish them by our own.

Based on different diets, each person's digestive system requires different types of good bacteria to digest the food.

For eg, people from Sichuan (eat spicy food) and shanghai (eat sweet food) have different types of good bacteria. If we supplement probiotics using outer source, we may not know which type of good bacteria our intestine requires.

In conclusion, change your diet to more fruits and vegetable to ensure healthy intestinal environment, so to let your intestine grow the good bacteria on its own. 
- no side effects 
- no reliance issue 

6. Plant foods for a healthy gut: 

1. Psyllium Husk 

2. Oat

3. Soy bean 

4. Fruits 

It's never too late to change our diet. 

If you are a parent and considering giving your children probiotics supplements but worry about possible safety concerns, you can now have a more natural approach: 

Charge your children's diet with above plant foods for a healthy gut. =) 

According to a Harvard study, following a change from an animal-based diet to a plant based diet, the gut bacteria composition in the body actually changes within a day! 

7. My solution to maintain a healthy gut of my 2 children is: 

Nutrifresh - a convenient wholesome freeze-dried food made of organic and non-GMO soy bean, and 15 different types of organic fruits and vegetables. 

  • Free of preservatives
  • Free of artificial colouring 
  • Awarded Food Safety Excellence Award by Singapore AVA for consecutively 12 years since 2004

More info about NUTRIFRESH:

If you wish to find out healthy food suitable for a child's gut, kindly contact me via message/ email. 

Warmest Regards 

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