It can be a challenge to keep your kids from getting colds and flus when schools and day care centers are hot beds of germs perpetually cycling through the classroom. Is there any way to protect your little one from catching the latest virus (and keep him from bringing it home to infect the rest of the family)? New research suggests that probiotics may be the key.
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria present in fermented foods that, when ingested, join your own naturally occurring native bacteria to promote good health. But not only do probiotics improve digestive health, they may also help keep infections at bay. The most likely scenario for how they do this is by competing with bad bacteria for food, thereby robbing the bad bacteria of the resources they need to replicate and cause an infection. Probiotics contribute to our “gut immunity,” an important source of protection from illness.
In this study, children who drank DanActive, which contains the probiotic lactobacillus casei, had 19 percent fewer infections than the children who drank an unfermented milk drink without probiotics. While these results are noteworthy, it is important to recognize that several of the researchers involved with the study worked or consulted for Dannon, the maker of DanActive.
More studies are needed to confirm these results, but foods containing probiotics are usually healthy choices anyway, so let your kids eat up!
Here are some good sources of probiotics:
- All milk-based yogurt contains probiotics so there’s no need spend more on brands touting probiotics. Note: A lot of fruit-flavored yogurts are high in sugar, so check the label. The best bet is to buy plain yogurt and add fresh fruit.
- Plain yogurt is also a great sub for sour cream on tacos and soups.
- Kefir is a fermented milk drink, similar to a thin yogurt, which also contains probiotics.
More adventurous palettes, or those who don’t eat dairy may enjoy: