Probiotics are microorganisms like bacteria and yeast that are similar to the good bacteria found in our gut.

Our gut is home to over 500 bacterial species.

These bacteria are important to help the body make certain nutrients including several B vitamins, vitamin K, folate, and some short-chain fatty acids along with providing the body with other benefits.

The research on probiotics is very promising, showing improvements with:

- Enhancing the immune system

- Improved integrity of the gut barrier

- Decreasing gut inflammation

- Decreasing gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms (i.e. bloating, constipation, diarrhea)

- Improving skin conditions such as eczema

Considering many special needs children have decreased immunity, inflammatory issues and GI issues, probiotics can be of great help.

But where do you get these probiotics?

Yogurt is probably the source most people are familiar with but there are other foods that contain probiotics including:

- Kefir

- Sauerkraut

- Miso

- Tempeh

- Kimchi

- Kombucha tea

- Brewer’s yeast

With yogurts, always looks for  “live and active cultures” on the label.

If you want to supercharge your probiotic friends, you may want to feed them with prebiotics.

They nourish the good bacteria in your gut in order to keep them healthy against the bad bacteria.

They should go hand-in-hand with probiotics.

Prebiotics are found in many foods, including bananas, whole grains, honey, garlic and onions.

Try to get two to four servings of these prebiotic-rich foods a day.

Other than yogurt, Makenzie won’t touch any of the other probiotic foods I mentioned so we use a supplement.

I have been giving Makenzie probiotics since she was about 6 months old.

Due to her hypotonia in her trunk , she can easily become constipated and gassy.

Probiotics have drastically helped reduce this problem, and as long as we are taking them daily, we are not dealing with any GI issues.  

Probiotic supplements come in capsule, powder, chewable, and liquid form, making them easy for most kids to ingest.

When choosing a probiotic supplement make sure it has at least 5 billion colony forming-units (CFU) per dose as that is the minimum for a beneficial effect.

Also, make sure to take it everyday to see the benefits.

I have found the best way to get Makenzie to take her probiotic is mixing it in a smoothie or pudding.

We buy the capsules or powder and then add it to the food.

Here is a recipe that contains both naturally- occurring probiotics and prebiotics along with the supplement. Hope you enjoy! Great for both kids and adults!

Healthy Gut Smoothie

1 cup plain yogurt, or dairy-free yogurt (make sure it contains live and active cultures)

¼ teaspoon vanilla

2 cups fresh or frozen fruit

1 cup orange juice

2 tablespoons of raw honey

Added probiotic powder, optional

Combine all ingredients in a blender.

Puree until smooth. 

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