The latest woo-woo supplement to be buzzed about in earth-mama circles is ... probiotics. Researchers have been taking a closer look at this supposed remedy for colic, preventer of asthma, and all-around good thing, and the verdict is: it seems to work a bit, but they can’t pinpoint how. Basically, it can’t hurt, and it might help.
So if you’re into it, go on with your bad self! And if your Aunt Sue is nagging you to try it, you can tell her there’s no proven benefit, so she should butt out.
But what are probiotics, and how are they supposed to help?
Full disclosure: I allowed Abby to be part of some prebiotics research when she was born, because I had her at a teaching hospital and I’m just super into being part of research whenever possible. Besides, you never know when a random $50 is going to come out of it.
What are probiotics?
Probiotics are live bacteria found naturally in a healthy digestive system.
What are prebiotics?
Other stuff that doesn’t get digested, but that serves as a breeding ground for probiotics.
How are they administered?
You can eat yogurt. You can drink kombucha. You can give your colicky baby probiotic drops. You can eat a lot of fiber! You can also take advantage of a ton of supplemented products that claim to contain probiotics. (That’s why people were doing the research -- to see if these products are helpful or necessary.)
Whom can they help?
There’s some evidence that colicky babies cry less when given the drops. Hey, every mom of a colicky baby has tried gripe water, which my ped says only works because of the sugar ... probiotic drops aren’t any weirder.
They also seem to help kids who get tummy aches from taking antibiotics. That makes sense to me because antibiotics always give me a yeast infection, which is caused by a dearth of probiotics (anti, pro, get it?). In fact, any kids with diarrhea problems might get a benefit from probiotics.
They could also help preemies with specific tummy problems, but that’s for a doctor to decide, and might be too risky for the really little ones.
Like I said, the bottom line is that probiotics are good, but we don’t know why. I feel confident that the gallons of yogurt Penelope and I go through in a typical week give us enough, but you judge for yourself. (Fun fact: even if you are lactose intolerant, the bacteria in yogurt should protect you from the pain of other milk products!)
Do you get probiotics in your diet? Do you supplement with them?
Note: This is general mom advice. Consult a doctor with any questions.
Image via Amazon