Doc Talk: Benefits of probiotics and how it can help children fight infections

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- In our weekly feature, 'Doc Talk', pediatric emergency doctor, Clint Pollack from Valley Children's Hospital talks about the benefits of probiotics and how it can help kids dealing with bacterial infections.

Dr. Pollack says humans have trillions of bacteria living on the skin and the mucosal surfaces of the body, especially in the intestines.

He says the majority of these bacteria are harmless and many of them are essential to the healthy functioning of the body, helping to protect against infection, digest food, and make certain vitamins.

These bacteria are affected by diet, infections, and antibiotics.

Antibiotics are given to treat bacterial infections, but also have the unintended effect of killing healthy bacteria in the body.

Diarrhea is a common side effect of antibiotics, because the normal functioning of the bacteria in the intestines is altered.

Prebiotics and probiotics can help to counteract this.

Prebiotics are foods and fiber that help encourage the growth and proper functioning of healthy bacteria in the intestines.

Probiotics are the healthy bacteria themselves and help restore the colonies of beneficial bacteria in the intestines.

There are many different kinds of probiotics. Most are grown from milk cultures.

Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, nonpathogenic Escherichia coli Nissle 1917, Clostridium butyricum, and Streptococcus salivarius are some common examples.

Probiotics have been shown to help with antibiotic-associated diarrhea and diarrhea caused by gastroenteritis (stomach flu).

Probiotics may also be helpful with irritable bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, and celiac disease, but studies are small and have had mixed results.

Probiotics are also being studied to prevent and reduce allergic symptoms.
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