Monday, September 10, 2012

Why You Should Think About Probiotics

What are Probiotics?

Probiotics are "live microorganisms (mainly bacteria) that offer a health benefit."  These microorganisms are either the same as or similar to the ones that naturally occur in our gut.  Probiotics are often referred to as the "good bacteria" as opposed to the germs that make us sick the "bad bacteria."  The most common types of these "good bacteria" are Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria.

Where are Probiotics Found?

Probiotics can be found in some dairy products like yogurt and kefir that have active, live cultures, as well as in supplemental form such as powders, capsules, liquids and tablets.

What are Probiotics Used For?

Probiotics are used to promote a healthy gut flora.  The "good bacteria" in your gut can be depleted by processed foods, stress, illness, toxins, etc. and especially from antibiotics which kill ALL bacteria - the bad bacteria causing your sickness but also the good bacteria in your gut flora.  Probiotics have been used to aid in digestion and increase the absorption of nutrients from foods, as well as help with both constipation and diarrhea. Probiotics have also been used to treat certain diseases, anything from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Crohns Disease and Colitis, diabetes, heart disease, depression, obesity, even the common cold and the list doesn't end there.  While researchers are still uncovering the health benefits of probiotics one thing is certain, 80% of your  immune system is located in your digestive system, so keeping it healthy certainly aids in preventing disease and increases your well being.

The Gut/Brain Link:

Our enteric nervous system (gut) and our central nervous system (brain) are actually connected through the vagus nerve which is the longest of all the cranial nerves.  This is our gut/brain connection.  It's because of this connection that we sometimes see neurological conditions, like autism, "cured" or improved.  Healing the gut has profound benefits to the brain which can be extremely beneficial to our Rett Girls.

How do I start my Rett Girl on Probiotics?

We strongly urge you to speak with your Rett Girl's GI specialist or pediatrician before starting any probiotics.  If she is cleared to start, we suggest starting extremely slowly, maybe with just 1/10th of a typical dose and increasing very slowly.  Your Rett Girl may experience GI discomfort, bloating, diarrhea or constipation if you move too quickly.  Eventually you may see benefits such as reduced screaming fits, more normal bowel movements, less need for laxatives, and hopefully an overall more comfortable girl.

No comments:

Post a Comment