Why Is My Kid Always Sick? – Part 1
How often does your kid get sick?
For a lot of parents, it can seem like your kid is always sniffling from one runny nose to another.
If you’ve ever wondered why your kid can’t seem to stay healthy for an extended period of time, don’t blame it on the “other” kids at school or just accept it as the way things are. Your kid should be bright eyed and bushy tailed for the vast majority of the time. Illnesses will come and go, but he shouldn’t be getting a runny nose or a cough every month.
In this series of posts entitled “Why Is My Kid Always Sick?”, we’ll identify the three biggest nutritional threats to the strength of your kid’s immune system and what you can do about them this flu season. You will see that the three biggest threats are interconnected in many ways, and by taking steps to deal with one you will be neutralizing them all.
Without further ado…
1. Why Your Kid Needs Probiotics To Be Healthy
Probiotic bacteria are the health-promoting microorganisms that are present in the digestive tract. There are millions of different strains of bacteria that can inhabit different portions of your kid’s digestive tract, ranging from super beneficial to benign to damaging. The key to bolstering the strength of your child’s immune system is to create an environment where the beneficial bacteria thrive.
Probiotic bacteria and VERY IMPORTANT for immune strength for a number of reasons.
1. When their growth is encouraged, probiotic bacteria will prevent infection simply because there are a lot of them. They’ll compete with the bad bacteria that your kid is exposed to 24/7 and not allow them a piece of “open ground” to grab a hold of and colonize.
2. Probiotic bacteria produce natural anti-pathogenic agents that prevent bad bacteria from reproducing. One example is lactic acid, produced by the Lactobacilli strains, that will inhibit the cell division of unhealthy bacteria. Basically, the lactic acid acts like a Quick Response Team in your kid’s stomach and intestines, stifling the growth of bad bacteria wherever they should land. Good friends to have around.
3. Probiotic bacteria produce the B vitamins that are required for normal (i.e. strong) immune function. For example, the human body cannot produce Vitamin B-12, which is essential in regulating the metabolism of every cell in the human body (that includes those of the immune system).
Probiotic bacteria however, are B-12 powerhouses. If you take care to feed the probiotic bacteria in your kid’s stomach, they’ll return the favor by delivering up plenty of easily absorbed vitamins, minerals, and a whole host of other nutrients.
4. Probiotic bacteria are able to detoxify poisonous materials and hazardous chemicals that your kid breathes in every day. Let’s face it, unless you’re living high in the Himalayas, the air quality you experience isn’t what is used to be for the vast majority of human existence. Probiotic bacteria are also able to break down limited amounts of ingested toxins (but your kid doesn’t get any of these, right?), like artificial colors, nitrates, and preservatives.
5. Probiotic bacteria can also reduce or eliminate allergic reactions, whether they are to food or airborne allergens. Studies have shown that kids with allergies have larger amounts of bad bacteria than good bacteria in their digestive tracts.
So how can you tell if your kid is getting enough probiotic bacteria?
Here are the warning signs of a bacterial imbalance.
1. Allergies and food sensitivities
2. Sugar and carbohydrate craving (more on this in part 3 of this post)
3. Fatigue, irritability, or an inability to concentrate
4. Frequent stomach aches, diarrhea, or constipation
5. Bad breath, gum disease, or dental problems
6. Acne, eczema, skin or foot fungus
Here is a list of known causes of bacterial imbalance.
1. Flouride in toothpaste or chlorine in drinking water. Make sure your kid is using flouride free toothpaste and that you filter your water through a carbon based filter.
2. Consumption of acidic beverages, like coffee, tea, dairy, and fruit juices. This goes for kids and parents alike.
3. Sugar consumption. Added sugar is everywhere. Start reading food labels. Anything ending in –ose is a sugar. Stay away from these.
4. Synthetic vitamins. If your kid is taking a vitamin supplement, make sure it is made from whole foods and free of binders, bulking agents, and synthetics. An easy way to spot synthetics is if you have trouble pronouncing anything on the label or if it reads like a Ph.D Chemistry thesis.
5. Preservatives and food additives. These items are toxic to probiotic bacteria and have no place being inside your kid’s body.
6. Pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. If you can, buy Organic. If you cannot, make sure to wash food thoroughly.
So, if this is all news to you, how can you start to foster the growth of good bacteria to keep your kid healthy this flu season?
First, you can make sure your kid isn’t ingesting any of the six things listed above.
Second, you can feed your kid food that will feed the bacteria (the healthy ones of course). To keep it easy, have them eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, the more variety the better. This will ensure the probiotics will have plenty of insoluble plant fiber to digest.
Third, you can look to supplements. Only do this one if you’ve done the first two things, otherwise the probiotic bacteria won’t survive very long. Here is a list of criteria that your kid’s probiotic supplement should meet.
1. Derived from a vegetable based culture.
2. Should NOT contain any dairy, goat’s milk, soy, wheat, corn, or casein.
3. 3rd Party Tested for potency and purity.
4. Must be refrigerated to preserve freshness and potency. You should always keep them refrigerated as well.
5. Contain ~ 15 billion CFU’s per serving – this is fancy speak for the number of living bacteria per serving. As a general rule of thumb, give your kid half a serving for every 40 pounds of bodyweight.
Creating an environment where probiotic bacteria can thrive is the most important thing you can do to encourage their proliferation and thus boost your kid’s immune strength. Your kid will also be getting a lot of high quality, nutritious food as well, and you won’t have to deal with his runny nose for months on end. It’s win-win-win, for the bacteria, your kid, and you.
Your’s in health and happiness,