A Gut Feeling: How Probiotics affect kids, high performance athletes and diabetics
I started looking into probiotics when I was researching how to get my son off ADD medication naturally.
My son was 9 years old, when he was diagnosed with ADD. His learning difficulties were impacting his self-confidence and self esteem at school because he felt like he was ‘dumb’. He was sad and angry and I didn’t know what to do to help him.
I found it extremely challenging to put him on the medication Ritalin knowing that it would affect his physical health but with very little support from the school, and very little knowledge what to do otherwise, I felt like I had no other choice.
Fast-forward one year on the medication and my son had definitely improved in coping at school but physically, he was going downhill fast. Over 12 months he had lost weight (kids are meant to get bigger, not smaller at that age). He looked malnourished and unwell. The medication made him feel sick and suppressed his appetite. It was actually really scary to watch.
At this point I knew something had to change but I still didn’t know what or how. I started researching until I found some amazing information about probiotics and what they could do however; I was pretty skeptical. I fully believed that if something sounds too good to be true then it probably is. Well, I was wrong.
Probiotics was not the only thing that I changed in my son’s diet. I got him into a school that was supportive of my decision to not medicate. I put significant restrictions on inflammatory foods limiting meat and dairy, I gave him all the Cold Pressed Juice he could drink and gave him as much probiotic water kefir as he wanted. I made Kombucha available as well but he didn’t really like the taste of Kombucha (each to their own I guess).
In one year, his whole life changed. He put on over 20 kg in a year. Now he is was almost 6 foot tall at 14 years of age and is well over 6 foot now that he is nearly 15. He is thin but healthy. He has a great group of friends at school and he has significantly improved in the area of self-confidence and self esteem. He is happy, well-rounded and great fun to be around.
I know that my personal experience is not a scientific study but I’m sure there are plenty of parents out their who are facing or have faced the same predicament as me when I had to choose between a sad, angry child or a medicated, sick child. When faced with this predicament, scientific studies mean nothing really unless they can actually help.
So, lets look at the very small amount of scientific research there is. According to a study published in 2003 in the “Alternative Medicine Review” journal, researchers treated 10 children with AD/HD with Ritalin and 10 children with AD/HD were treated with probiotics, vitamins and minerals. The study found that food supplement treatment was as effective in treating the symptoms for AD/HD as Ritalin.
In another study, published in Paediatric Research – Nature, researchers found that probiotic supplementation early in life may reduce the risk of ADHD or autism spectrum disorder development later in life.
Dr Michael Lyon conducted research on 75 children with ADHD and discovered 30% of them had pathogenic yeast or harmful bacteria. Dr Lyon believes that by adding probiotics to these children’s diets will decrease the harmful bacteria and reduce the symptoms of ADHD.
So how else can live probiotic drinks affect your life?
A study found that the use of probiotic drinks to prevent and manage type-2 diabetes was effective and supported the body to control blood sugar levels.
Another study looked at the impact of probiotics on highly active people including endurance athletes. Athletes can often suffer from nausea, bloating, cramping, diarroea and bleeding during prolonged exhaustive events. Probiotics reduced the frequency and intensity and/or duration of respiratory and gastrointestinal illness.
Other areas of your life that can improve from the regular consumption of live probiotic drinks are:
- Improve your internal flora for enhanced digestive function
- Supports a Strong Immune System
- Improve Memory and Brain Function
- Improve Moods
- Increases Endurance and Recovery from Intense Exercise
The reason that I am sharing my story of my son’s journey to wellness is in the hope that other parents faced with the same choices I was faced with understand that there are more ways to manage illness than by medicating it. I believe in looking for the cause of the problem and fixing it from there. I believe that because my son was born by C-section, he did not get the normal gut bacteria that children who are born naturally get. I believe that this contributed to his condition and that by working on building the diversity of his gut microbiome up using living probiotics drinks and other whole foods he has been happier, healthier and better able to cope with the schooling system.
If you want more information on the research done around probiotics and mental health and performance, I have included references to most of the research below.
If you want to have a pack of living probiotics delivered to your door each week or each month or even as a one-off to try, order here. Or, make your own at home with your own Kombucha or Water Kefir Kit.
Harding, K. L., Judah, R. D., & Gant, C.. (2003) Outcome-based comparison of Ritalin versus food-supplement treated children with AD/HD. Alternative medicine review: a journal of clinical therapeutic 8(3):319-30
Partty, A., Kalliomaki, M., et. al. (2015) A possible link between early probiotic intervention and the risk of neuropsychiatric disorders later in childhood: a randomized trial. Pediatr Res. 2015 Jun;77(6):823-8. doi: 10.1038/pr.2015.51. Epub 2015 Mar 11.
Perera, M. A. E. G., Lakmali, J. P. D., Wanninayaka, L. J. M. K. T., Kulathunga, N. U., Wanninayake, P. C. U., Jayarathne, W. M. S. C., & Yapa, P. N. (2016) Probiotic functional drink to control Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus – A Review. International Research Symposium on Pure and Applied Sciences, 2016 Faculty of Science, University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka
Benton, D., Williams, C., & Brown, A. (2007). Impact of consuming a milk drink containing a probiotic on mood and cognition. European journal of clinical nutrition, 61(3), 355-61.
Tsuji, H., Chonan, O., Suyama, Y., Kado, Y., Nomoto, K., Nanno, M., & Ishikawa, F. (2014). Maintenance of healthy intestinal microbiota in women who regularly consume probiotics. International Journal of Probiotics & Prebiotics, 9(1/2), 31.
Dong, H., Rowland, I., Thomas, L. V., & Yaqoob, P. (2013). Immunomodulatory effects of a probiotic drink containing Lactobacillus casei Shirota in healthy older volunteers. European journal of nutrition, 52(8), 1853-1863.
Thushara, R. M., Gangadaran, S., Solati, Z., & Moghadasian, M. H. (2016). Cardiovascular benefits of probiotics: a review of experimental and clinical studies. Food & function, 7(2), 632-642.
Roy, B. A., & Troy, L. (2013). Potential Benefits of Probiotics in Highly Active People: Brought to you by the American College of Sports Medicine www. acsm. org. ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal, 17(6), 3-4.
Behnsen, J., Deriu, E., Sassone-Corsi, M., & Raffatellu, M. (2013). Probiotics: properties, examples, and specific applications. Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in medicine, 3(3), a010074.
Shing, C. M., Peake, J. M., Lim, C. L., Briskey, D., Walsh, N. P., Fortes, M. B., … & Vitetta, L. (2014). Effects of probiotics supplementation on gastrointestinal permeability, inflammation and exercise performance in the heat. European journal of applied physiology, 114(1), 93-103.
Martarelli, D., Verdenelli, M. C., Scuri, S., Cocchioni, M., Silvi, S., Cecchini, C., & Pompei, P. (2011). Effect of a probiotic intake on oxidant and antioxidant parameters in plasma of athletes during intense exercise training. Current microbiology, 62(6), 1689-1696.
Cryan, J. F., & Dinan, T. G. (2012) Mind-altering microorganisms: the impact of the gut microbiota on brain and behaviour. Nature Reviews Neuroscience 13, 701-712
Credit for Podcast intro: http://www.purple-planet.com