Probiotics are live bacteria, some of which live in your teen's digestive tract and others that are available from food sources. If the balance of the healthy bacteria in your teen's gut gets skewed, adding probiotics to his diet helps replace the unhealthful bacteria that can cause infections and inflammation.
Probiotics help keep your teen's digestive tract healthy by keeping unhealthful bacteria at bay. They work well for treating diarrhea associated with a round of antibiotics or digestive illnesses, according to "Consumer Reports." Probiotics are also useful for treating common childhood illnesses, including eczema, food allergies and respiratory conditions. Teens with food allergies might also find relief by increasing probiotic intake. They are also prescribed for treating certain digestive conditions, including Crohn's disease, inflammatory bowel syndrome, constipation and acid reflux, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Helping your teen increase her intake of foods that contain probiotics is a simple and healthy way to keep her digestive bacteria balanced. Yogurt is an ideal source. Look for products that claim "live and active cultures" on the label. Other foods that contain probiotics include kombucha tea, miso, soy milk, sauerkraut, pickles, dark chocolate and olives in brine, according to article on the Reader's Digest website. A diet rich in whole grains and plenty of fruits and vegetables helps promote healthy bacteria growth in your teen's digestive tract as well, according the ConsumerReports.org article.
A healthy and balanced diet is the best way to ensure that your teen gets the nutrients he needs for good overall health. If he's a picky eater or suffers from digestive complaints regularly, a probiotic supplement can boost his levels and keep his body healthy. They're available in capsule, tablet, powder or extract form, so it's important to follow dosing instructions carefully. In general, look for products that contain at least 1 billion units per serving, preferably with the well-known strains of probiotics called Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus, according to the Consumer Reports article.
Probiotic supplements aren't regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, so talk to your teen's doctor before adding supplements to her diet. Probiotics might interfere with certain medications, so if your teen is on a prescription for another health condition, mention it to her doctor. If your teen has heart disease, kidney disease or immune deficiencies, probiotics might not be a safe or healthy choice, according to Mesquite Pediatrics.