In an age when it’s not size that counts as far as the cause of disease goes, we should all wise-up about anti- and probiotics.
Humans are teeming with bacteria, most of which are good. Beneficial bacteria control how many nutrients you get, develop the body’s metabolism and immune system, and control cholesterol, hormonal and fatty acid levels.
When your little one develops an infection, an antibiotic is the standard treatment. Antibiotics kill bad bacteria, but sometimes, antibiotics also affect the healthy, ‘good’ bacteria. They have a long list of possible side-effects too, including rashes, headaches, taste alteration, itching, diarrhoea, nausea, liver toxicity and hearing disturbances – to name a few. Recent research has also linked antibiotic exposure in young children to food allergies, asthma, childhood obesity and inflammatory bowel disease.
Did You Know?
- The bacteria in our bodies account for 2kg of an adult’s body weight.
- In the digestive tract alone there are about 700 different species of bacteria.
- 100,000 bacteria can be found on every square centimetre of human skin!
When Bacteria Become the Boss
Bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics – this means that antibiotics will no longer be as
successful. The main reasons for this are:
- The overuse of antibiotics. When antibiotics were first developed in the 1940s, they were hailed
as ‘miracle drugs’ that would save us all. Soon, antibiotics were being rapidly overused, so
unfortunately, some antibiotics are now no longer effective.
- The misuse of antibiotics. It used to be said that if a course of antibiotics is not completed,
harmful bacteria could develop resistance. Now, the medical world has realised that precisely
this has contributed to the development of so-called ‘superbugs’, and much shorter courses and
less frequent antibiotic prescription is the official line – though many practitioners seem not to
have adopted this approach yet and parents might need to show that they know about this
development. Certain countries allow people to buy antibiotics without a doctor’s prescription,
leading to further misuse. Also, about 70% of antibiotics used in the developed world are given
to livestock, once again allowing bacteria to build resistance.
There are times when antibiotics are essential, although not nearly as often as they are given in
practice. Often, antibiotics simply lead to a cycle of recurring infection anyway. You can break this
cycle in five ways:
- Eat a healthy diet with minimal ‘junk’ food
- Make healthy lifestyle changes, like getting plenty of active outdoor activity
- Use homeopathic remedies to treat everyday conditions like sore throat, earache and excess
- Give your child a good quality probiotic
- Patiently allow your child to build his own resistance to common illnesses and don’t always
think medical treatment is essential and every moderate fever needs breaking – fighting off
disease with supportive treatment only is the most effective way to develop a strong
What Are Probiotics?
Probiotics are good bacteria that are used to restore the body’s natural bacterial balance and strengthen the immune system. Probiotic cultures need to be alive, and must be able to survive stomach acid and bile, so choose a good quality product, that has undergone clinical trials that prove its efficacy. Probiotics should always be given in correct dosages.