Healing illness can come in many forms, and probiotics are one natural source leading the way.
Daina Lindsay will never forget seeing her baby boy, Sands, struggling to breathe. Covered with tubes and attached to machines in intensive care, the then one year old’s immune system had shut down from a respiratory infection. He had endured countless viruses and had five rounds of antibiotics in three months for repeated ear infections.
So when a caring nurse told Daina and husband Dan that their son’s immune system had been compromised by the antibiotics, she put all her energy into finding ways to improve her family’s health.
“My kids have been completely different since I started using probiotics,” says Daina, mum of four year old Maiia and Sands, now two.
“From having to call the doctor every two weeks, they are now so healthy even being in daycare four days a week. If they do get sick, it’s gone in a day or two and we haven’t had to use antibiotics since.”
The radio station sales executive was so convinced of the healing properties of the health supplement, she started her own brand, PONO Probiotics, making combinations that are particularly baby and child friendly. In fact, they can be taken by babies from birth.
“I give it to them every day,” says Daina, 34, a born and bred Adelaide girl who recently relocated her family to Brisbane. “My kids love to eat the coconut powder off the spoon as a treat. I also put it on their Weetbix, and in their water bottles. It can stay for hours in chilled water. Or I’ll make up a smoothie with the tummy tonic liquid or green powder. A teaspoon each day and you’re done.”
Mum of two and naturopath/nutritionist Jess Blair is also a big advocate of probiotics.
“The benefits are far and wide, from reducing gastrointestinal problems, to helping conditions such as colic, allergies and eczema,” she advises. “My son, Taika is 11 months and has probiotics in his formula almost every day. My eldest son, Harlem is 7 and we have used probiotics on and off over the course of his life. In times of stress, sickness of travelling overseas we all make sure we are taking probiotics as well as pre-biotics to reduce risk of getting sick or reduce the severity if we do come down with something.”
The recommended daily dose is between 5 to 10 billion CFU good bacteria per day, or 20 to 30 billion if recovering from illness or preparing to travel.
The key ingredient doing all the good work is ‘Lactobacillus’, which flushes out bad bacteria and replaces it with beneficial ones.
“It’s great for reducing inflammation, as is ‘bifidobacterium’,” adds the health practitioner. “These strains are great for general babies’ health. If your child has a certain condition, different strains can be added to combat this. The research is ever evolving with gut health, and more research is getting done in relation to microbiome of babies however the two strains above are very well researched and tolerated in babies and in adults.”
Jess Blair on how to give an infant probiotics
· For breastmilk, express a small amount and mix with the correct dosage of PONO Baby Probiotics and syringe it into the mouth.
· Prior to breastfeeding, hand express a small amount of milk around the nipple and rub PONO Baby Probiotics onto the nipple prior to the baby latching.
· If baby is taking a bottle, either breastmilk or formula, mix the correct dosage of PONO Baby Probiotics in with the liquid
· If your baby is on solids you can also add the correct dosage of PONO Baby Probiotics in with cooled or room temperature food.
· Take a probiotic during and after antibiotic administration. Research has shown quite clearly that you SHOULD take probiotics alongside antibiotic therapy and taking probiotics concurrently will reduce antibiotic associated side effects and symptoms such as diarrhoea.
· Dose your probiotic either with food or within 30 minutes of eating. Studies suggest that probiotic bacteria have a much better survival rate when taken with a meal. Dairy or grain based meals optimise this survival rate through the upper gastrointestinal tract.
· Provide your gut with prebiotics by consuming foods such as dairy, fermented foods, cooked and cooled starchy vegetables and rice. This gives the probiotics something to feed on.
· Consult your healthcare practitioner if you are concerned about taking a probiotic supplement and whether it is right for you.
· Follow the probiotic storage instructions. Certain strains of good bacteria can only survive in the right temperature conditions.
· Stop taking a probiotic after one course. Probiotic bacteria don’t permanently colonise the gut on their own and need constant support through our diet and lifestyle
· Take probiotics at the exact same time as taking an antibiotic. While you should be taking a probiotic during antibiotic therapy, spread the dosing out by a couple of hours.
· Assume that you are getting a therapeutic dose of probiotics through cultured yoghurts. Yoghurts only contain a small number of probiotics, if any at all! You can however add PONO Probiotic to your yoghurt.
· Cook or heat your probiotics as this will kill the good bacteria cells. Research shows that probiotics die when heated to high temperatures, however can survive at body temperature. If adding probiotics to your oats in the morning, don’t add them prior to cooking, only add the probiotics once cool enough to eat. Probiotics can be added to cool foods or drinks that are then frozen and naturally defrosted, as the bacteria will remain dormant in the freezer.