CAT | Kids Health
It’s frustrating for parents and miserable for kids, but unfortunately childhood constipation is an ever-increasing issue in America. For many, constipation is just an occasional nuisance, but in some cases it can be serious, causing about 2 million trips to the doctor each year! Natural health experts believe that constipation in childhood is partially due to heavily refined foods, sedentary lifestyles and low fiber diets and are concerned about the potential link between childhood constipation and the development of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) later in life. Luckily, new research published in Nutrition Journal is uncovering some natural relief for constipated kids and yet another benefit of probiotics.
The study revealed that that when taken over four weeks, the probiotic bacteria Bifidobacterium breve significantly improved bowel motility and lessened abdominal pain in children. The study documented twenty children, with an average age of 7, who were given anywhere from 100 Million to 10 Billion active cultures of Bifidobacterium breve daily and asked to keep a journal of bowel habits. The journals took note of bowel frequency, stool consistency and any abdominal discomfort during the study. At the conclusion of the study, the children who took the Bifidobacterium breve daily experienced more frequent bowel movements, fewer incidences of abdominal pain, better bowel consistency and best of all no side effects.
In addition to trying probiotics, consider the following factors when addressing childhood constipation:
Constipation can be caused by dehydration, so encourage your child to drink water. Try diluting your child’s fruit juice with 50% water to sneak in some H20.
Fruit, vegetables, beans and whole grains are just a few of the many sources of dietary fiber, but don’t be afraid to use a natural supplement to boost fiber intake. Follow the age plus five guideline – take your child’s age, add 5 and that’s how many grams of fiber he or she should consume daily.
This applies to adults and children alike. Regular exercise stimulates lymphatic flow, which encourages healthy elimination, so make sure your child gets enough daily physical activity.
Today, more research is revealing the importance of probiotics for children’s health. A healthy balance of beneficial bacteria can positively influence digestion, elimination and even support immune system function, protecting kids from the countless germs at daycares and schools. To try a probiotic for your child, take a look at the variety of strains and consider either a powdered or chewable probiotic to help make the health-promoting bacteria more appealing for the little ones.
A recent study reported in the New York Times found that colicky babies had gastrointestinal inflammation in the gut and traces of a bacterium that would have promoted it. Babies without colic had no inflammation and a greater diversity of beneficial bacteria.
About 20 percent of all babies suffer from colic, and it can stem from several different causes – hormones in milk, allergies, even stress in the womb. But scientists are now zeroing in on relief. A study conducted by the National Institutes of Health in 2009, found a direct correlation between the symptoms of colic and fewer strains of microflora in their intestines.
Likewise, a 2007 study by Italian researchers examined 83 colicky, breast-fed babies. Over a 28-day period, some infants were given simethicone to reduce gas, while the others were given a supplement containing L. reuteri, a beneficial bacteria often found in yogurt. At the end of the study, the babies who got the probiotic cried an average of only 51 minutes a day, compared with 2 ½ hours for the other babies in the group.
What should you look for in a probiotic for fussy infants?
Ideally, it should contain four billion active cultures per gram, and be a healthy mix of Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus. It should also contain five viable strains of beneficial bacteria, including essential B. infantis. Finally, it should be able to mix easily with formula, juice, milk or other liquids, and have a pleasant taste.