What? You want me to eat living bacteria?
What? You want me to eat living bacteria and give them to my wife and daughter? Are you crazy?
This is straight out of the mouth of a friend of mine. His daughter was constantly getting ear infections. The doctors would send them home with a prescription for antibiotics and that seemed to make the symptoms better for a short while, but a month later they were back at the doctor’s office. Now the doc was suggesting putting tubes in her ears to fix the problem.
This story is all too familiar; I recall a time when my own daughter was heading down this path. Unfortunately, at the time I was too busy at work to notice how often my wife was taking her to the docs, or that she was getting that delicious little squirt of antibiotic every morning and every night. When I was told we needed to put tubes in her ears, I immediately called a friend of my dad’s who was an expert in nutrition for children.
Her first question was, “Have you given her probiotics yet?” Duh! I should have known! That made all the difference. After she started on probiotics, not only did she not need tubes, but she also didn’t get another ear infection for at least 15 years. (Once she hit college, her eating habits changed and I wasn’t there to remind her to take her vits…so she got sick a couple times.)
In most of the stories like this, the child started out as a happy, healthy kid. Then a bad cold caused an ear infection. So they got antibiotics, which kill bacteria. God gave us an army of good bacteria to protect us from all the foreign invaders that life throws at us. When our internal flora is strong and our immune system is healthy, we can efficiently eliminate these nasty microorganisms.
Unfortunately, antibiotics kill many of our good bacteria along with the bad, compromising our immune system and leaving us more susceptible to illness and infections. More often than not, once a child has been put on antibiotics, their health declines and they get sick more often and need more and more antibiotics. That is, unless they replace the good bacteria and rebuild their immune system.
I realize this is not a scientific report. I don’t want it to be. You want to know: Will it work? Will it make me get sick less often? There are so many sources of information—and misinformation. How many CFU’s? Refrigerate or not? Which strain or strains? Even the real experts don’t all agree. What I can tell you is that I’ve been in the nutrition industry for 22 years, and for 30 years before that, I lived with a research biochemist who studied nutrition for a living. I’ve seen too many cases where parents were told their child needed tubes put in their ears (or tonsils out), but after giving them probiotics and maybe improving their diet, tubes were no longer necessary and the child was much healthier.
To be clear, I am not a doctor and I am not telling you to ignore your doctor. I’m telling you to consider cutting the sweets and give your kid a probiotic before subjecting them to a surgery that may or may not work, that may cause damage long-term, and that will probably need to be repeated.
The side effects of probiotics are all positive! Better digestion, better emotional state, better immunity, better health.*