Probiotics or good bacteria: your unlikely friend

Have you come across the term ‘probiotics,’ or ‘good bacteria’? So what exactly are these? If we need them, why?

Probiotics are "live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host," as defined by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

To maintain intestinal health is the main role of probiotics. With all the food passing through the human intestine to be processed, and with digestive acids and various fluids, a bacterial ecosystem actually resides in there, called the gut flora. Probiotics keep the balance in the gut flora. They do this by promoting growth of good bacteria to inhibit harmful bacteria.

Poor intestinal health in children may cause stomach discomforts. Diarrhoea and constipation, two most common concerns, can be caused respectively by sensitive intestines and inactive bowels. Both undesirable, at opposite extremes of poor intestinal health, these are caused by the lack of balance of bacteria in the gut flora.

The market actually has a wide range of food products with added probiotics for children. These include milk powder, lactic acid drinks, yogurt and cultured milk drinks. If you are familiar with cultured milk drinks, and if your review the packaging, you'll find printed the term "Lactobacillus," a common type of probiotic.

Products like these stimulate probiotic growth in your child's gut, besides preventing both diarrhoea and constipation. They can also increase mineral absorption, increase immunity, and in some cases reduce inflammation. With sufficient probiotics, you'll begin to see overall health improvements in your kid too, such as less skin irritation and stuffy nose.

To keep the maximum effectiveness of food products with probiotics, never overheat them. Probiotics cannot survive temperatures above 40°C.