Probiotics are 'friendly' bacteria that exist normally in the gastrointestinal tract. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines probiotics as "live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host." Exposure to naturally occurring, probiotic-like organisms early in life may have profound effects on the immune system.
Probiotics today are consumed primarily through fermented dairy products such as yoghurt and kefir, and also in supplement formulations. A growing body of evidence is confirming the positive effects of probiotics in humans, particularly with regards to two major areas - gastrointestinal and immune health.
What is Immune Health?
Immune health refers to the maintenance of a healthy immune system. The immune system plays a key role in protecting the body from infections, disease and harmful substances. The immune system ensure the body has appropriate response to both non-harmful (e.g. food) and harmful components (e.g. viruses).
70% of the body's immune cells are located in the gastrointestinal tract. Therefore, having the right balance of bacteria in the gut is important for optimizing the immune system.
The Impact of Germs on Child Health
There is no way to avoid germs; they are everywhere, from the office to school to home. The fact that they are constantly present explains why the cold and flu are the most frequent infectious diseases worldwide. Children are 6-10 times more likely to be affected than adults, and are prone to contracting these infections two to three times a year with symptoms lasting up to two weeks. In the United States alone, nearly one billion colds and 35-50 million cases of flu were recorded in the past year. These maladies cause many unpleasant symptoms - from runny noses and coughing, to headaches and fevers.
Missed school days can have a dramatic impact not only on a child but the entire family. Adjusting to this all too common occurrence is often problematic for parents trying to balance work and family life. Furthermore, major health regulatory bodies like the FDA have cautioned against the use of cold and flu medicine on the young since they only seem to mask symptoms while increasing some risks.
The Role of Probiotics in Immunity
Probiotics have been used in the treatment and prevention of infectious diseases for decades. Probiotics can colonize our intestines, inhibiting invasion by disease-causing organisms. They also modulate our immune responses to prevent immune overreaction and subsequent allergies or autoimmune diseases. However, not all probiotics are created equal. There are only a handful of probiotics that are clinically proven to boost children's immunity.
In a gold standard clinical study, healthy three-to-five-year-old children received either doses of HOWARU® Protect or a placebo throughout the primary cold and flu season (November to May). Typical cold and flu symptoms such as headache, sore throat, runny nose and fever, were evaluated.
In this clinical study, two strains of probiotics were used (5 billion Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM® and 5 billion Bifidobacterium lactis Bi-07). The study found that children who received HOWARU® Protect had:
lower incidences of fever, cough and runny nose,
half the number of sick days and absent days from day care,
antibiotic prescription reduced by 80%.
One can begin cultivating a healthy digestive in children by giving probiotic supplements to either a breastfeeding mother, or adding it to a child's food. It is always important to choose a good quality probiotic supplement that contains exactly what is described on the label.
This health information is brought to you by the panel pharmacists of Cambert (M) Sdn Bhd.
Click here for more information about Kordel's Protect Probiotic Powder