By Dr. Tricia Pingel, NMD
School is starting! Time to kick the kids out of the house, pack up those backpacks and lunches and boot them out to grow and learn new things! However, homework and a good education is not all that they will come home with this year. That dreaded flu, hand-foot-mouth-disease, croup, head lice, rhinovirus, chickenpox, and strep throat can also find their way home.
As a society, we tend to wait for the infection before treating, which can make their little bodies more susceptible to further illness. The key to avoiding these nasty “bugs” is to prevent them from taking over your child’s system in the first place. Ever notice that kid who never gets sick? He is in a classroom surrounded by outbreaks, runny noses and coughs, yet he seems to never actually catch the virus? I have to ask – is the problem the presence of the virus? Or is the problem the body who it infects? If some children can avoid illness while others get sick constantly, then should our healthcare be focusing on antibiotics, antivirals and vaccines to kill the bug? Or perhaps focus on how to boost the immune system to avoid infection in the first place?
The gut makes up 70% of our immune system (3) and therefore plays a significant role in susceptibility to infection, immune response, allergy response, management of brain function (think depression, anxiety, sleep/wake cycles, ADHD, ADD, Autism, etc) and homeostasis. (4) Gut microbiota interacts with both innate and adaptive immune system, and plays a pivotal role in maintenance and disruption of gut immune response.(1) It also plays a significant role in allergy response – including food allergies (is it really a peanut allergy? or perhaps a gut flora issue?) (2)
According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, Allergies are the 6th leading cause of illness in America, with an annual healthcare cost of over 18 billion. 7 million children are impacted by allergies. The Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) states that 22 million school days are lost annually in the United States due to the common cold – which can be avoided by supporting the child’s immune system preventively rather than waiting until infection hits and treating with antibiotics.
I am sure you can picture the kid that gets sick all of the time, and never seems to recover? The use of antibiotics disturbs this micro biome, and sets up the body for reinfection. I have pediatric patients who were on antibiotics 1-2 times a month, since infancy, due to a chronic “cold” or “allergy”. They aren’t getting any better, so isn’t it time to change the protocol and focus on WHY their body seems to catch infection more than others?
Numerous studies boast the importance of microflora in immune health and the importance of probiotics as disease prevention.
* please note, I am not saying that antibiotics aren’t useful in some cases of infection, I am simply stating that they are being overused for symptoms of a common cold in children.
The key to prevention is supporting the body’s innate and adaptive immune system. In children, it doesn’t take much. To start, it is recommended to provide a daily probiotic: a multi-strain of at least 10 billion daily for school aged children. (hey folks, a yogurt only carries about 1 billion, so unless you want to feed this kid 10+ a day – skip it! The dairy is inflammatory to the gut anyway!)
Check out HMF Powder by Genestra: its a powder and therefore easily adjustable in the event the child becomes sick and needs more support. It also doesn’t taste like much so it can be easily added to food. Prefer a chewable? Check out Ther-Biotic.
For younger kids, check out RAW probiotics:. At 5 billion per serving, it can be used as young as 3 months old.
By focusing on supporting your childs immune system, you can avoid constant illness and reduce the duration and severity of illness when it occurs so your kid can get back to doing what they need to do – Learn and Grow!
As always: CHECK WITH YOUR MEDICAL PROVIDER before starting any supplement. This article is for educational purposes and is not liable for any negative reaction to these products.
1.Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2013 Feb;17(3):323-33.The role of intestinal microbiota and the immune system.Purchiaroni F1, Tortora A, Gabrielli M, Bertucci F, Gigante G, Ianiro G, Ojetti V, Scarpellini E, Gasbarrini A.
2. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2013 Dec; 10(12): 7235–7256. Published online 2013 Dec 16. doi: 10.3390/ijerph10127235PMCID: PMC3881164The Potential Link between Gut Microbiota and IgE-Mediated Food Allergy in Early LifeJohn Molloy,1,2,3 Katrina Allen,3,4,5 Fiona Collier,1,2 Mimi L. K. Tang,3,4,5 Alister C. Ward,2 and Peter Vuillermin1,
3.Clin Exp Immunol. 2008 Sep; 153(Suppl 1): 3–6. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2249.2008.03713.xPMCID: PMC2515351Allergy and the gastrointestinal systemG Vighi,* F Marcucci,‡ L Sensi,‡ G Di Cara,‡ and F Frati‡
4.J Med Food. 2014 Dec;17(12):1261-72. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2014.7000.The gut microbiome and the brain.Galland L1.