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Benefits of Daily Probiotics

goodbacteriaProbiotics are beneficial bacteria that help maintain the natural balance of organisms (microflora) in the intestines between harmful and beneficial bacteria and work to remove toxins from the body. The normal human digestive tract contains about 400 types of probiotic bacteria that reduce the growth of harmful bacteria and promote a healthy digestive system. The largest group of probiotic bacteria in the intestine is lactic acid bacteria, of which Lactobacillus acidophilus, found in yogurt with live cultures, is the best known. Yeast is also a probiotic substance.

Probiotics promote healthy digestion by providing beneficial bacteria to recolonize and balance the GI tract, and hinder the growth of harmful, toxic bacteria, while also promoting a healthy immune system.

Probiotics may seem new to the food and supplement industry, but they have been with us from our first breath. During a vaginal birth while the newborn passes through the birth canal, a newborn picks up bacteria from his/her mother. These good bacteria are not transmitted when a Cesarean section is performed and have been shown to be the reason why some infants born by Cesarean section have allergies, less than optimal immune systems, and lower levels of gut microflora.

What are probiotics used for?
Some people use probiotics to prevent diarrhea, gas, and cramping caused by antibiotics. Antibiotics kill “good” (beneficial) bacteria along with the bacteria that cause illness. A decrease in beneficial bacteria may lead to digestive problems. Taking probiotics may help replace the lost beneficial bacteria. This can help prevent diarrhea.

A decrease in beneficial bacteria may also lead to other infections, such as vaginal yeast and urinary tract infections, and symptoms such as diarrhea from intestinal illnesses.

Probiotics may also be used to:

• Help with other causes of diarrhea.

• Help prevent infections in the digestive tract.

• Help control immune response (inflammation), as in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Poor food choices, emotional stress, lack of sleep, antibiotic overuse, other drugs, and environmental influences can all shift the balance in favor of the bad bacteria.

When using probiotics, the idea is not to kill off all of the bad bacteria. Our body does have a need for the bad ones and the good ones. The problem is when the balance is shifted to have more bad than good. An imbalance has been associated with diarrhea, urinary tract infections, muscle pain, and fatigue.

Maintaining the correct balance between the “good” bacteria and the “bad” bacteria is necessary for optimal health.

When the digestive tract is healthy, it filters out and eliminates things that can damage it, such as harmful bacteria, toxins, chemicals, and other waste products. On the flip side, it takes in the things that our body needs (nutrients from food and water) and absorbs and helps deliver them to the cells where they are needed.

The other way that probiotics help is the impact that they have on our immune system. Some believe that this role is the most important. Our immune system is our protection against germs. When it doesn’t function properly, we can suffer from allergic reactions, autoimmune disorders (for example, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and rheumatoid arthritis), and infections (for example, infectious diarrhea, Helicobacter pylori, skin infections, and vaginal infections). By maintaining the correct balance from birth, the hope would be to prevent these ailments. Our immune system can benefit anytime that balanced is restored, so it’s never too late.

Probiotics convert the fiber in food into healthy fatty acids that nourish the cells that line the intestines. They also help the intestines make short-chain fatty acids, which contribute to the overall health of the body.

Benefits of Probiotics in Pregnancy
Many women suffer from digestive issues, such as heartburn, diarrhea, constipation and intestinal cramps, during pregnancy. Probiotics help relieve constipation and other intestinal issues by improving gastrointestinal function. The healthy bacteria can also improve the immune system of both the mother and baby during pregnancy. Probiotics can help you fight off or avoid colds and other illnesses, which is essential during pregnancy due to a suppressed immune system. Taking probiotics during pregnancy may also help prevent allergies and eczema in both mothers and infants.

A study performed by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology discovered a lasting impact on babies whose mothers took probiotics during pregnancy. According to this study, babies and toddlers up to 2 years old were 40 percent less likely to suffer from eczema compared to babies whose mothers did not drink probiotics. Additionally, babies who did experience eczema had less severe cases. This study, which was published in the “British Journal of Dermatology,” highlights the effectiveness in preventing eczema in children and did not indicate any adverse risks to the mother or baby.

References
Parenting; Ask Dr Sears: Probiotics During Pregnancy?; William Sears;
http://alturl.com/354h8
Pregnancy Today; Probiotics and Pregnancy; Teri Brown
Colorado State University Extension; Food Safety During Pregnancy; J. Dean & P. Kendall; December 2006
San Mateo Medical Center; Acidophilus and Other Probiotics; 2011

The Importance of Healthy Nutrition Throughout Your Pregnancy

Adequate nutrition during your preconception and prenatal periods is important for a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby. Achieving a normal body mass index (BMI) prior to your pregnancy as well as improving your nutritional status prior to and during your pregnancy can lower your risk of pregnancy complications such as gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia. Remember, you are not eating for two; you only need to increase your calorie intake by 300-500 calories. You should gain weight gradually during your pregnancy, with most of the weight gained in the last trimester.

Read your food labels! What are you consuming to help with your baby’s growth?  Food labels will tell you what nutrients are in the foods you eat. The letters RDA, which you find on food labeling, stand for recommended daily allowance, or the amount of a nutrient recommended for your daily diet. When you’re pregnant, the RDAs for most nutrients are higher.

Pregnant women need a balanced diet including:

  • Whole grains: Breads, cereals, pastas and brown rice.
  • Fruits: All types of fruits, fresh, frozen or canned without added sugar.
  • Vegetables: Eat a variety of colorful vegetables, fresh, frozen or canned with no added salt. Raw sprouts should be avoided.
  • Lean protein: Choose lean protein from meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans and peas, peanut butter, soy products and nuts. Pregnant women should avoid eating tilefish, shark, swordfish and king mackerel, and limit white (albacore) tuna to 6 ounces per week. Deli, luncheon meats and hot dogs should be reheated if consumed.
  • Low-fat or fat-free dairy: This includes milk, cheese and yogurt. Unpasteurized milk and some soft cheeses that are made from unpasteurized milk should also be avoided.
  • Healthful fats: Vegetable oils including canola, corn, peanut and olive oil are good choices.

Avoid extra calories from added sugar and fats, which can lead to unhealthy weight gain. Cut down on foods such as regular soda, sweets and fried snacks. These are empty calories and of no nutritional value.

Key Nutrients for Healthy Pregnancy

  • Folate/Folic Acid: Folic acid reduces the risk of birth defects that affect the spinal cord. All women of childbearing age and pregnant women should consume 800 micrograms of folic acid each day. Sources include fortified foods such as cereals, pastas and breads, supplements and natural food sources of folate, including legumes, green leafy vegetables and citrus fruits.
  • Iron: Maternal iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency during pregnancy.  A pregnant woman needs 27 milligrams a day. Your body uses iron to make hemoglobin, a protein in the red blood cells that carries oxygen to your tissues. During pregnancy your blood volume expands to accommodate changes in your body and help your baby make his or her entire blood supply, doubling your need for iron.

If you don’t get enough iron, you may become fatigued and more susceptible to infections. The risk of preterm delivery and low birth weight also might be higher.

Foods with high and moderate amounts of iron include red meat, chicken and fish, fortified cereals, spinach, some leafy greens and beans. For vegetarians and women who do not eat a lot of meat, increase iron absorption by combining plant-based sources of iron with vitamin C-rich foods. For example, try spinach salad with mandarin oranges or cereal with strawberries.

  • Calcium: During pregnancy, calcium is needed for the healthy development of a baby’s teeth, bones, heart, nerves and muscles. When a pregnant woman does not consume enough calcium, it is taken from her bones for the baby. It is important to consume adequate amounts of calcium daily before, during and after pregnancy. The recommended amount of calcium during pregnancy is 1,000 milligrams per day for adolescents 14 to 18 years old and 1,300 milligrams per day for women aged 19 to 50. That means at least three daily servings of calcium-rich foods such as low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt or cheese or calcium-fortified cereals and juices.

Vitamin D Promotes bone strength and helps build your baby’s bones and teeth.  Fatty fish, such as salmon, is a great source of vitamin D.  Other options include fortified milk and orange juice.

There has been many studies recently revealing how common it is women of childbearing age are either insufficient or deficient in their levels of Vitamin D. This can cause an adverse outcome in pregnancy if not addressed.  Your vitamin D3 level should be > 40 ng/ml for a healthy pregnancy and for breastfeeding. Ask your healthcare provider to include your 25-OH-D concentrations of your Vitamin D level in your initial prenatal lab work.

Prenatal vitamins currently contain only 400 IU of Vitamin D3 which is inadequate.

 Protein is crucial for your baby’s growth, especially during the second and third trimesters. You need 71 grams/day. Good sources of protein include: Lean meat, poultry, fish and eggs are great sources of protein. Other options include dried beans and peas, tofu, dairy products, and peanut butter.

When you look at your food choices on your plate, you should have a variety of color!

Fine-tuning your eating habits to ensure you are receiving adequate nutrition for the health of you and your baby is key. Healthy eating during pregnancy is critical for a healthy pregnancy, healthy mom and baby!

Shelia L. Kirkbride,  MS, NC, VE.

 

colorfulplate

References:

Mayo clinic.org-Nutrients in pregnancy

maternal vitamin D supplementation reduces the risk of premature birth

http://tinyurl.com/q83koe6

https://www.vitamindcouncil.org/newsletter/newsletter-pregnancy-and-gestational-vitamin-d-deficiency/

What is Thrush?

Thrush/nipple yeast and vaginal yeast are caused by the one-celled organism, Candida albicans. It is a fungus that thrives in moist, dark environments (like the nipples, milk ducts, mother’s vagina, baby’s mouth and/or baby’s diaper area). The use of antibiotics by mom or baby is a contributing factor in the occurrence of yeast. A cracked or sore nipple can also contribute to the occurrence of  yeast.

A consultation with your healthcare provider is  important. Here are a few questions to help you determine if you or your baby has a yeast overgrowth. If you answer yes to one or more of these, you may have thrush.

• Have you noticed white spots/patches in your baby’s mouth?
• Does your baby have a bright red, pimply diaper rash?
• Is your baby gassy, fussy or not nursing well due to oral thrush?
• Is the area around your nipple pink, red, itchy, flaky or shiny?
• Do you feel a burning sensation on your nipples either during or between feedings?
• Do you have a cracked nipple that won’t heal?
• Do you feel shooting pains in your breast (different from the sensation of let-down)? Some women describe the feeling as “a piece of glass” or “stabbing.”
• Have you or your baby completed a recent course of antibiotic treatment?
• Did you have a cesarean birth or were you diagnosed with a vaginal Strep-B infection?

**Note: It is rare for a mom to have a red rash or white spots on her nipples with a nipple yeast infection.**

Here are some common treatments for thrush. It is very important that both mom and baby are treated at the same time, even if only one of them show signs of yeast. Yeast/thrush is highly contagious, and if not treated together, they will keep passing it back and forth to each other. Be sure to continue treatment for at least 2 WEEKS after the signs of Thrush/yeast have gone away.

• Your healthcare provider can prescribe a prescription of Nystatin for you and baby – a cream for mom to use on her nipples and oral liquid for baby. Make a run to the store for yogurt containing live, active cultures (especially acidophilus). The yogurt cultures (acidophilus) will help get rid of the yeast. If your baby is old enough, you can offer him some too.

Acidophilus supplements. This does the same thing as the yogurt. You should be able to find acidophilus in the health food section of your grocery store/pharmacy or at a natural foods store. This can also be crushed (or, if you have the caplets, opened) and sprinkled directly on your nipples. If you wish, you can do this just prior to feeding so your baby gets a dose of acidophilus, too. A daily probiotic, in tablet, capsule or liquid form, is a good way to keep your normal flora from overgrowing. Taken on a daily basis should be a part of your healthy lifestyle behavior.

Gentian Violet. You should be able to find this in your local health food/natural foods store or in the natural food or vitamin section of your store. Using a clean cotton swab, rub some on each nipple. In order to treat baby, also, it works best to put some on your nipple and then latch baby on to nurse. It will coat baby’s mouth while he is nursing. It is a bit messy, so you’ll want to make sure you are wearing clothes you won’t mind getting purple stains on. This should only be used for 3 days.

Grapefruit Seed Extract. (not grape seed extract),  ACTIVE INGREDIENT MUST BE “CITRICIDAL”), 250 mg (usually 2 tablets) three or four times a day orally (taken by the mother), seems to work well in many cases. If preferred, the liquid extract can be taken orally, 5 drops in water three times per day (though this is not as effective). Oral GSE can be used before trying fluconazole, instead of fluconazole or in addition to fluconazole in resistant cases.

Dr. Newman’s All Purpose Nipple Ointment (from his Candida protocol handout): Mupirocin 2% ointment (15 grams), Betamethasone 0.1% ointment (15 grams), and micona-zole powder so that the final concentration is 2% miconazole. This combination gives a total volume of just more than 30 grams. This cream requires a prescription sent to your local compounding pharmacy. The combination is applied sparingly after each feeding (except the feeding when the mother uses gentian violet). “Sparingly” means that the nipple and areola will shine but you won’t be able to see the ointment. Do not wash or wipe it off, even if the pharmacist asks you to. I used to use nystatin ointment or miconazole cream (15 grams) as part of the mixture, and these work well enough, but I believe the use of powdered miconazole (or even clotrimazole powder) gives better results. These ointments can be used for any cause of nipple soreness (“all purpose nipple ointments”), not just for Candida (yeast). Use the ointment until you are pain free and then decrease frequency over a week or two until stopped. If you are not having less pain after 3 or 4 days of use, or if you need to be using it for longer than two or three weeks to keep pain free, get help or advice.

Vinegar Wash: 1-cup water and 1 tablespoon of vinegar. Use at least 4 times per day, after nursing. Use a clean cotton ball/swab to apply every time and let air-dry.

Cut back on your sugar intake. Yeast also loves sugar, so the less that is in your body, the less the yeast has to thrive on.

Sterilize anything that goes into your baby’s mouth or has contact with your nipples. This is necessary to kill the yeast that is on those items and prevent it from reinfecting you. This includes any toys, pacifiers, bottle nipples, breast pump parts and your bras.

Wear disposable breast pads. Change them with each nursing and just toss them out. This way, you’re not sterilizing your bra every night.

• Some moms have found swimming in a chlorinated pool to clear up their nipple yeast very quickly.

Diflucan (generic: fluconazole) is a prescription medicine that is commonly used to treat vaginal yeast infections. It has been shown to be effective against nipple yeast/thrush, especially when the yeast has survived all other treatments or it is a ductal yeast infection (meaning it is in your milk ducts, not just in the nipple area). The dosage for proper treatment is: 400mg loading dose on day one, then 200 mg per day for 13-28 days after that. Again, your baby should be treated at the same time you are being treated.

Be sure to keep in contact with your healthcare provider and lactation consultant on your treatment regimen and if the symptoms are improving.

presented by Angel J. Miller, MSN, CNM

http://www.midwiferycareassociates.comCradle_hold_breastfeeding

http://www.metropolitanbreastfeeding.com

http://www.tinyurl.com/yztozrl-Dr. Newman’s candida protocol

 

 

TIME – the Most Precious Commodity of All

breastfeeding momMost mothers are stressed when they have a new baby. I absolutely remember how tiring it is to be a mother – and especially when you’re a breastfeeding mother. Being tired is on my mind right now, because in the midst of working with a new breastfeeding mother of a six-day-old, she flat-out told me that, “this breastfeeding thing is taking way too much of my time.” I was left flabbergasted and flap-jawed. What I wanted to say and what I did say were two very different things. What I wanted to say was “Well, what were you expecting? Did you think you were going to drop the baby in the umbrella stand on the way in and out of your front door?” What I actually said is “Tell me how I can help you.”

The mom went on to explain that nursing every two hours was beginning to grate on her nerves. I went on to explain that babies had tummies the size of golf balls and that breast milk was a “perfect food” that made it digest and move through the stomach very rapidly. I quoted how each DROP of colostrum had 3 million cells (the majority being immune cells). Breastfeeding is as much nurturing as nourishing (hoping the old adage would help). I also described cluster feeding as being analogous to a camel getting ready to cross the desert; feed, feed, feed and then you get the big sleep (maybe 4-5 hours max). In my first book “Start Here; Breastfeeding and Infant Care with Humor and Common Sense” I tried to call the hours between 6-10PM the “arsenic hours,” but the publisher opted for something safer like “the witching hours.” I guess that “every hour on the hour” cluster thing is what put this new mother “over the edge.”

So, here are some suggestions I’ve come up with to help you save time during your busy breastfeeding days.

  • If you have an exceptionally sleepy baby (or just have to get the show on the road once in a while), I find that you can feed on one side while you simultaneously pump on the other: Tarzan Pumping (at least that’s what I call it). That trick alone can save you up to a half hour per feeding and maximize your milk supply. Your body will react as it you’re feeding twins (because both sides are going at the same time) and perhaps even increase supply a bit. It will also expedite your feeding and have your baby feel as though a bigger, stronger twin was on the other breast helping him or her out. Now you’ll want to feed that milk to your baby at some point (perhaps during cluster feeding time), as when I previously instructed another mom to do this, she was giddy with her new frozen stash; problem was the baby hadn’t gained any weight in a week…whoops; I should have been more clear with my instructions.
  • Anyone who tells you to sleep when the baby sleeps probably doesn’t shower, do laundry, use the bathroom, open the mail or eat; I never understood that suggestion. I mean, that’s the only time you have to do ANYTHING, isn’t it? So, ALLOWING others to do things for you will help put time back in your day. You shouldn’t feel as though you’re not a good mother if you don’t do everything and do it well (do as I say, not as I do/did). I remember 28 years ago how I came creeping out of my house to get the mail and was spotted by my neighbor. She promptly sent her “nanny” over to my house with instructions to “help that poor woman out.” Problem is that I wouldn’t let the well-meaning nanny in! As I look back on it, I was afraid that I’d be found out; that I’d be “exposed” and my neighbor would know how I wasn’t really holding things together as a mother “should.” In my experience, many mothers feel that same way. They’re overwhelmed but think that they’re the only mother experiencing that. I’m here to tell you that MOST mothers feel overwhelmed in the beginning and if they tell you otherwise, I’d be wary.
  • Remember the saying “time is fleeting,” so are these stages!  Many times these cluster feeds will pass quickly and after a couple days you’ll have an entirely new baby.  It’s important to keep in mind that babies patterns change quickly and you won’t always be feeding around the clock. 

When I heard this mother complaining about time, as I think more about it, I’m suspicious there might be something else going on. Is she depressed? Is she lonely and needs to get out of the house for companionship, does she simply have cabin-fever, or are her expectations unrealistic as to how much time infants take out of a mothers day? What do you think?

Blog written by  Kathleen F. McCue, DNP, FNP-BC, IBCLC-RLC, 

Owner of Metropolitan Breastfeeding

Building a Strong Foundation for Your Pregnancy

Contemplating pregnancy?  Nutritional and optimal health should be priority number one!  Women contemplating pregnancy must keep in mind that healthy eating habits and healthy lifestyle behaviors should be established before pregnancy to make sure proper nutrient levels for early embryo development and growth.

Eating a balanced diet that includes the proper amount servings of protein, grains, fruit, and vegetables is key. Protein is essential to the very foundation of your baby’s growth. Eating enough protein ensures that your little one, from the very beginning, is getting adequate food stores to support cell growth and blood production.  Regular exercise should also be incorporated in your daily routine to prepare your body for the demands of pregnancy. Habits such as drinking or smoking must be avoided to allow for optimal health and development of the child during pregnancy and after birth.  Good habits should  include taking a daily multivitamin or a daily prenatal vitamin.  Even if you are consuming healthy foods daily, you can miss out on key nutrients.  A daily prenatal vitamin — ideally starting three months before conception — can help fill any gaps.  A quality, fast absorbing prenatal vitamin is necessary for all the basic micronutrients needed during pregnancy.eat-well-teaser

Through the course of pregnancy there is an increased need for nutrients and calories to make sure proper fetal growth. The increased need for vitamins and minerals such as folate, calcium and iron is necessary to prevent birth defects, ensure proper bone formation/retention, and to reduce the risks of preeclampsia or anemia. Folic acid intake increases to a daily amount of 800 mcg, calcium to 1200 mg, and iron to 30 mg. Your Vitamin D levels should be checked with your initial prenatal labs to be sure you levels are not insufficient or deficient.  Fetal needs for vitamin D increase during the latter half of pregnancy, when bone growth and ossification are most prominent. Vitamin D travels to the fetus by passive transfer, and the fetus is entirely dependent on maternal stores. Your body needs vitamin D to maintain proper levels of calcium and phosphorus, which help build your baby’s bones and teeth. A vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy can cause growth retardation and skeletal deformities. It may also have an impact on birth weight.  Therefore, maternal status is a direct reflection of fetal nutritional status.

Researchers believe that a vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy can affect bone development and immune function from birth through adulthood.

Blog by Shelia Kirkbride

Is it safe to continue breastfeeding if I’m pregnant with another child?

Many mothers choose to continue breastfeeding throughout pregnancy, while others decide to wean. The following ipregnantwithsonkissinnformation may help you decide what is best for you and your family.

Generally, it’s possible to safely continue breast-feeding while pregnant — as long as you’re careful about eating a healthy diet and diligently drinking plenty of fluids. There’s an important caveat, however. Breast-feeding can trigger mild uterine contractions. Although these contractions aren’t a concern during an uncomplicated pregnancy, your health care provider may discourage breastfeeding while pregnant if you have a history of preterm labor. In an uncomplicated pregnancy there is no evidence that continuing to breastfeed will deprive your unborn child of necessary nutrients. In addition, according to the LeLeche League International Breastfeeding Answer Book, 3rd Edition 2003, page 407. “Although uterine contractions are experienced during breastfeeding, they are a normal part of pregnancy. Uterine contractions also occur during sexual activity, which most couples continue during pregnancy.” if you are having a difficult pregnancy and are at risk for preterm labor and birth, and in particular, have been advised to avoid intercourse during pregnancy, then weaning would probably be advisable.

It is important to have a healthy diet if you plan to breastfeed during pregnancy. Depending on how old your nursing child is, you may need an additional 650 calories a day if your breastfeeding child is under the age of six months, or about 500 if your child is now eating other foods. This is in addition to the 350 (second trimester) and 450 (third trimester) calories you need during your pregnancy. (No additional calories are needed during the first trimester as you work your way through morning sickness and some healthy foods are just not palatable. In malnourished populations, pregnant, nursing mothers do have lower weight gain and lower weight babies, as well as lower weight nursing siblings, than those who wean.

If you’re considering breastfeeding while pregnant, be prepared for changes your nursing child might notice. Although breast milk continues to be nutritionally sound throughout pregnancy, the content of your breast milk will change — which may affect the way your milk tastes. In addition, your milk production is likely to decrease as your pregnancy progresses. These factors could lead your nursing child to wean on his or her own before the baby is born.

Your comfort may also be a concern. During pregnancy, nipple tenderness and breast soreness are common. The discomfort may intensify while breast-feeding. Pregnancy-related fatigue may pose challenges as well. If you want to continue breast-feeding while pregnant — or breast-feed both the baby and the older child after delivery — you may need additional support from loved ones or other close contacts. Also check with your health care provider about taking supplemental prenatal vitamins.

Info provided from Midwifery Care Associates and LeLeche League International, Breastfeeding Answer Book, 3rd Edition, 2003.

Sara Walters, B, Breastfeeding During Pregnancy, Carmathen Wales UK; from New Beginnings, Vol. 25, No. 1, January-February 2008, pp. 32-33

Benefits of Daily Probiotics

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help maintain the natural balance of organisms (microflora) in the intestines between harmful and beneficial bacteria and work to remove toxins from the body. The normal human digestive tract contains about 400 types of probiotic bacteria that reduce the growth of harmful bacteria and promote a healthy digestive system. The largest group of probiotic bacteria in the intestine is lactic acid bacteria, of which Lactobacillus acidophilus, found in yogurt with live cultures, is the best known. Yeast is also a probiotic substance.

Probiotics promote healthy digestion by providing beneficial bacteria to recolonize and balance the GI tract, and hinder the growth of harmful, toxic bacteria, while also promoting a healthy immune system.

Probiotics may seem new to the food and supplement industry, but they have been with us from our first breath. During a vaginal birth while the newborn passes through the birth canal, a newborn picks up bacteria from his/her mother. These good bacteria are not transmitted when a Cesarean section is performed and have been shown to be the reason why some infants born by Cesarean section have allergies, less than optimal immune systems, and lower levels of gut microflora.

What are probiotics used for?
Some people use probiotics to prevent diarrhea, gas, and cramping caused by antibiotics. Antibiotics kill “good” (beneficial) bacteria along with the bacteria that cause illness. A decrease in beneficial bacteria may lead to digestive problems. Taking probiotics may help replace the lost beneficial bacteria. This can help prevent diarrhea.

A decrease in beneficial bacteria may also lead to other infections, such as vaginal yeast and urinary tract infections, and symptoms such as diarrhea from intestinal illnesses.

Probiotics may also be used to:

• Help with other causes of diarrhea.

• Help prevent infections in the digestive tract.

• Help control immune response (inflammation), as in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Poor food choices, emotional stress, lack of sleep, antibiotic overuse, other drugs, and environmental influences can all shift the balance in favor of the bad bacteria.

When using probiotics, the idea is not to kill off all of the bad bacteria. Our body does have a need for the bad ones and the good ones. The problem is when the balance is shifted to have more bad than good. An imbalance has been associated with diarrhea, urinary tract infections, muscle pain, and fatigue.

Maintaining the correct balance between the “good” bacteria and the “bad” bacteria is necessary for optimal health.

When the digestive tract is healthy, it filters out and eliminates things that can damage it, such as harmful bacteria, toxins, chemicals, and other waste products. On the flip side, it takes in the things that our body needs (nutrients from food and water) and absorbs and helps deliver them to the cells where they are needed.

The other way that probiotics help is the impact that they have on our immune system. Some believe that this role is the most important. Our immune system is our protection against germs. When it doesn’t function properly, we can suffer from allergic reactions, autoimmune disorders (for example, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and rheumatoid arthritis), and infections (for example, infectious diarrhea, Helicobacter pylori, skin infections, and vaginal infections). By maintaining the correct balance from birth, the hope would be to prevent these ailments. Our immune system can benefit anytime that balanced is restored, so it’s never too late.

Probiotics convert the fiber in food into healthy fatty acids that nourish the cells that line the intestines. They also help the intestines make short-chain fatty acids, which contribute to the overall health of the body.

Benefits of Probiotics in Pregnancy
Many women suffer from digestive issues, such as heartburn, diarrhea, constipation and intestinal cramps, during pregnancy. Probiotics help relieve constipation and other intestinal issues by improving gastrointestinal function. The healthy bacteria can also improve the immune system of both the mother and baby during pregnancy. Probiotics can help you fight off or avoid colds and other illnesses, which is essential during pregnancy due to a suppressed immune system. Taking probiotics during pregnancy may also help prevent allergies and eczema in both mothers and infants.

A study performed by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology discovered a lasting impact on babies whose mothers took probiotics during pregnancy. According to this study, babies and toddlers up to 2 years old were 40 percent less likely to suffer from eczema compared to babies whose mothers did not drink probiotics. Additionally, babies who did experience eczema had less severe cases. This study, which was published in the “British Journal of Dermatology,” highlights the effectiveness in preventing eczema in children and did not indicate any adverse risks to the mother or baby.

References
Parenting; Ask Dr Sears: Probiotics During Pregnancy?; William Sears;
http://alturl.com/354h8
Pregnancy Today; Probiotics and Pregnancy; Teri Brown
Colorado State University Extension; Food Safety During Pregnancy; J. Dean & P. Kendall; December 2006
San Mateo Medical Center; Acidophilus and Other Probiotics; 2011