antibiotics

Flu Season Ahead Sign

Are You Ready For The Flu Season? Take Your Probiotics!

Are you REALLY ready for the upcoming flu season?

Medical experts agree you can never be too careful — or too early — when it comes to being prepared for the flu season.

Preliminary numbers from the CDC estimate up to 43 million Americans were affected by the flu during the 2018-19 season and as many as 61,000 died from the flu.

If those early estimates of deaths attributed to the flu shock you, it’s an improvement on the 2017-18 season when some 79,000 Americans died.

The first takeaway for this article I cannot stress enough is to get your entire family vaccinated for the flu NOW. Please don’t put a flu shot off until it gets colder or even as late as Thanksgiving.

This advisory is especially true for seniors whose immune systems aren’t as robust as those of younger adults, according to the experts.

Plus, if you’re dealing with any of the risk factors associated with heart disease, protecting your body from the flu becomes far more important.

You may be six times more likely to experience a heart attack after being diagnosed with the flu, according to a 2018 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Help your gut and the flu shot do their work

The health of your gut plays a critical role in how well the flu shot does its work too.

Your gut can be an important anchor to a stronger, healthier immune system, until a very familiar culprit — broad-spectrum antibiotics — enters the picture, according to a very recent study appearing in the journal Cell.

Researchers from Stanford University and Emory University examined the effect broad-spectrum antibiotics plays in reducing the effect of the flu vaccine by testing 33 human subjects (ages 18-45) over two consecutive flu seasons.

In the first group of test subjects conducted over the 2014-15 flu season, exposure to antibiotics did the expected damage, reducing bacteria in the guts of patients by 10,000 fold. Also, the loss of bacterial diversity in the gut lasted for up to a year.

However, patients still had enough of the antibodies from the flu shot to protect them, suggesting exposure to current or previous vaccines may have been helpful.

So, researchers tried a different approach for a second group of 2015-16 subjects who hadn’t been vaccinated for the prior three years before the study, and the results were very different.

Like before, these newer patients lost huge amounts of their gut bacteria after receiving antibiotics, but this exposure also lowered levels of an antibody that reduced the immune response of one of the three virus strains contained in the vaccine, making patients more vulnerable to the flu.

But that’s not all…

Those who received antibiotics along with a flu shot showed signs of systemic inflammation only seen by researchers in seniors age 65 and older in a previous study. This inflammation mirrored a depletion of metabolites in the blood requiring help from the human gut to replenish.

These key metabolites (secondary bile acids) are responsible for easing inflammation process in the body’s immune system.

Probiotics to the rescue

As we know, probiotics are a great natural tool that may help in protecting your body from the flu. Did you know taking probiotics may mean taking fewer antibiotics and missing less work too?

Those are the key findings in a systematic review of studies conducted by the Cochrane Collective and York Health Economics Consortium, featured in Frontiers in Pharmacology.

Scientists were tasked with assessing how much the use of probiotics in the management of acute respiratory tract infections — from mild colds to the flu — would save Americans, and it’s a lot.

Based on increased productivity (using fewer sick days), taking fewer drugs and overall medical bills, Americans could save as much as $1.4 billion on their total health costs.

The only catch: Those savings apply if everyone takes probiotics regularly. No one enjoys having the flu, or taking an antibiotic that may do as much harm to your body as good.

Taking a probiotic, formulated with 10 strains of beneficial bacteria and a prebiotic that feeds the bugs in your gut, like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic may be a great way to avoid the doctor’s office during this flu season, but only after getting your annual flu shot!

Don’t forget to increase your child’s chances of avoiding the flu too with a daily dose of EndoMune Junior Advanced Chewable Probiotic, fortified with four essential strains of beneficial bacteria along with a prebiotic.

illustration of C Diff bacteria

Protecting Your Child From C. Diff Diarrhea

When health experts talk about Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infections in the news — the most common superbug that causes life-threatening diarrhea — it’s largely associated with overprescribing antibiotics to older people in hospitals and long-term care facilities.

Those concerns are warranted, considering about 500,000 Americans are sickened by C. diff infections and nearly 30,000 die from them annually.

However, C. diff infections are equal-opportunity offenders that can be a serious problem for young children too, according to findings published recently in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.

Based on a meta-analysis of 14 studies and 10.5 million children, prior exposure to antibiotics was the main culprit, nearly doubling the risk of C. diff infections in young children, compared to kids who hadn’t taken antibiotics.

But that’s not all…

Researchers also cited exposure to heartburn drugs — better known as proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) — as another C. diff risk factor for children. That’s not surprising given many adults rely on them too often and for too long at the expense of disrupting the healthy balance of their gut bacteria.

A study published last fall in the Journal of Microbiology, Immunology and Infection backs up this link between severe cases of C. diff related to children taking PPIs.

The concerns about PPI use are so critical and obvious that the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (connected with the National Institutes of Health) felt it was important enough to devote a detailed section to treating acid reflux in children and teens.

The good news: There’s growing consensus among health experts that taking a daily probiotic can be a very safe and effective solution for preventing C. diff infections altogether.

Additionally, recent scientific evidence has shown the benefits of treating patients with probiotics made with multiple strains of beneficial bacteria were very effective in preventing C. diff infections.

One safe and natural way to protect your young child from C. diff infections, especially if they are taking an antibiotic: Talk to your doctor about giving him/her a probiotic, like EndoMune Jr. Powder (recommended for children to age 3) or EndoMune Jr. Chewable Probiotic (ages 3-8).

Both varieties of EndoMune Jr. contain four strains of beneficial bacteria, along with a prebiotic (FOS).

Are You Over-Sterilizing Your Life?

Keeping your body clean hasn’t been easier than it is today, but is there such a thing as being too clean?

No matter where you go — the supermarket, your local gym or even a neighborhood yoga class — antimicrobial chemicals have invaded our living spaces, creating an environment that’s become “too clean” for our own good.

The use of antimicrobial chemicals like triclosan may have seemed like a good idea at one time. However, that perception changed radically a few years ago when health problems related to the hygiene hypothesis and its lingering effect on our immune systems began lessening the natural ability of our bodies to fight disease.

Although triclosan has been the main focus for these problems, some of its notoriety faded when the FDA took the major step of banning it from antibacterial soaps and most body washes in 2016.

Despite the ban, triclosan can still be found in some personal care products (review the Environmental Working Group’s most current list) including some toothpastes as well as lining common consumer products like yoga/exercise mats and gym equipment.

That’s where a new health problem lies in plain sight…

Antibiotic resistance in dust?

This stealth invasion of triclosan in our environment may be creating antibiotic-resistant dust, according to a recent study appearing in mSystems.

Researchers at Northwestern University discovered this problem after collecting dust samples from 42 athletic facilities in the Pacific Northwest.

Study leader and associate professor Dr. Erica Hartman chose gyms due to the contact people have with mats, floors and gym equipment and how many clean them before and after using them with antimicrobial wipes.

Concerns arose when Hartman’s team collected dust from athletic spaces, hallways and offices, then examined the bacteria hiding in dust, and its genetic makeup.

Antimicrobial chemicals were the most concentrated in dust found in moist spots and gym spaces and in higher levels in rooms with carpeted floors or rubber mats.

In samples with higher levels of triclosan, scientists found genetic markers directly linked to antibiotic resistance and, specifically, medically relevant antibiotic drugs.

“There is this conventional wisdom that says everything that’s in dust is dead, but that’s not actually the case. There are things living in there,” says Dr. Hartman, according to Northwestern Now.

Trying to keep workout spaces clean for yourself and others creates a larger health problem with antibiotic-resistant infections, potentially leaving you vulnerable to superbugs.

Unfortunately, manufacturers of products like yoga mats aren’t required to disclose antibacterial chemicals like triclosan in their labeling, because their safety is governed by the EPA, not the FDA, Dr. Hartman says.

So, how do you protect your health and environment surrounding you from being “too clean?”

  1. Avoid products that are labeled with terms like fights germs, fights odors or antibacterial, according to experts at the National Resources Defense Council Health Program.
  1. Review the product labels of any personal care products you’re buying at the grocery store for anything that you suspect includes antibacterial chemicals (look for a future blog about triclosan in toothpaste).
  1. Protect your immune health the safe and natural way by taking a probiotic like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic that contains 10 strains of beneficial bacteria, plus a prebiotic (FOS) that feeds the good bacteria in your gut.
a medical writing down a list of medication

The Best Weapon Against C. Diff: Probiotics

Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infections are the most common superbug pathogens patients face in American healthcare settings (hospitals and long-term care facilities), largely due to doctors overprescribing antibiotics.

Some 500,000 patients are sickened by C. diff infections annually in America and nearly 30,000 lives (largely seniors) are lost as a result.

Fortunately, medical experts are coming around to the idea that less — in the case of antibiotics — is more and multi-strain probiotics may be better weapons for preventing these infections, based on a pair of studies published earlier this year in Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology.

The first report — a metanalysis of 18 controlled trials and about 6,800 patients in 12 countries — found probiotics reduced the chances patients would be sickened by a C. diff infection by roughly two-thirds.

Moreover, multi-species probiotics (probiotics with multiple strains of beneficial bacteria) were much more beneficial to preventing C. diff infections, compared to single-strain probiotics.

Interestingly, probiotics were very effective in preventing C. diff infections in cases where patients were taking more than one antibiotic and in healthcare settings where the risks of infection were higher than 5 percent.

A second study, conducted in the Cook County Health System in Illinois, reported more positive results with multi-strain probiotics (featuring three of the 10 strains contained in EndoMune Advanced Probiotic) providing a long-term benefit.

Over a 12-month period of monitoring treatment with probiotics, reports of C. diff infections fell significantly during the final six months. During that time, patients took probiotics initially within 12 hours after receiving their first antibiotic dose until five days after completing their course of antibiotics.

It’s not surprising how protective and beneficial multi-strain probiotics can be for your health, given how effective they are in easing the symptoms of a variety of health conditions, including leaky gut, depression and constipation.

Even when you’re not actively taking antibiotics for a health condition, you may be surprised by how often you’ve exposed to them merely by eating meat or dairy products that retain traces of antibiotic-resistant germs that can trigger foodborne infections all on their own.

All the more reason you may want to consider taking a multi-strain probiotic like EndoMune to protect your health.

pet store puppy looking up at owner

Did your pet store puppy make you sick?

Recently, we’ve talked about how a dog’s gut health may be very similar to our own, a great boon to researchers examining the human gut.

Unfortunately, one of the greatest problems in human health — the overuse of antibiotics — may be affecting the health of our canine friends and sicken us too, based on a recent CDC report about pet store puppies spreading antibiotic-resistant infections to humans.

More than 100 people in 18 states (including pet store employees) were made sick from exposure to puppies carrying Campylobacter jejuni, one of the most common causes of foodborne illness from bacteria in America, over nearly two years, according to the CDC.

Testing on eight dogs and 10 humans revealed resistance to seven common antibiotics (including ciprofloxacin, erythromycin and tetracycline) that are typically used to treat human Campylobacter infections.

How did this happen?

Based on drug records of nearly 150 pups, nearly all of them received at least one round of antibiotics before they arrived at the pet store or during their time there.

This practice of treating puppies with antibiotics is not surprising and largely unnecessary, but is used to offset poor infection control and management by larger breeding companies, according to experts.

“Antibiotics should only be used to treat illness, not to compensate for poor practices — whether it’s trucking dogs long distances and having poor hygiene in the process along the way,” says Matthew Wellington, antibiotics program director for the Public Interest Research Group in STAT.

“These are lifesaving medicines that should only be used to treat sick animals or sick people.”

As a result, the CDC created educational materials specifically for pet store employees to remind them to wear gloves when cleaning pet cages, eat meals away from areas where animals are fed and wash their hands.

Contact with animals that have been infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria isn’t a new thing. Investigators have been studying these problems for more than a decade.

In addition to keeping your hands clean with plain old soap and water (avoid antibacterial soaps), one of the best things you can do to protect your health and maintain the proper balance of bacteria in your gut is to take a probiotic.

Maintaining the diversity of bacteria in your gut is so much easier when you take a probiotic with multiple species of beneficial bacteria like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic.

a few pills next to a thermometer

Can Probiotics Reduce the Need for Antibiotics?

If you follow our blog regularly, you’re very aware of the many problems associated with antibiotics.

Patients have leaned on antibiotics so much over the years as go-to drugs to feel better in a hurry that doctors have tended to over-prescribe them.

All too often, doctors will give in to their patients, even for relatively minor health problems caused by viruses (colds, bronchitis and sore throats) that don’t respond to antibiotics in the first place or bacterial infections (many ear and sinus infections) that often aren’t necessary.

Every year, some 47 million prescriptions written for antibiotics are completely unnecessary, according to the CDC. At least half of the antibiotic prescriptions written for bacterial infections are unwarranted too.

This excess use has created an environment in which antibiotic resistance has become far too common. At least 2 million Americans are infected by antibiotic-resistant bacteria annually and some 23,000 will die from exposure to infections, including superbugs like Clostridium difficile (C. diff).

That’s only about 75 years removed from the introduction of penicillin, the first commercially available antibiotic during World War II, in 1943, and a drug that was discovered almost by accident.

However, the tide may be starting to turn away from the excessive use of antibiotics, thanks to the timely use of probiotics, according to a recent report published in the European Journal of Public Health.

Based on a review of a dozen studies, researchers from the U.S. Netherlands and U.K. discovered children and babies were 29 percent less likely to be prescribed antibiotics if they were taking a daily probiotic.

Even more encouraging, a second look at studies that researchers judged to be of the highest quality saw those numbers of probiotic-protected children jump to 53 percent.

“More studies are needed in all ages, and particularly in the elderly, to see if sustained probiotic use is connected to an overall reduction in antibiotic prescriptions. If so, this could potentially have a huge impact on the use of probiotics in general medicine and consumers in general,” says Dr. Sarah King, lead author of the study.

Not surprisingly, the probiotics children were taking in these studies contained strains of Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus, some of the very same ones in EndoMune Jr. and EndoMune Advanced Probiotic.

Even if you or your family need to take antibiotics when you’re sick, it’s critical to recognize how these drugs can shift the balance of beneficial bacteria in your gut and affect your recovery.

If you’re unsure how to maximize the benefits of taking a probiotic when prescribed an antibiotic, I urge you to review my recently updated and very easy-to-follow probiotic protocol.

Also, check with your doctor before taking a probiotic if you have any concerns, especially if you’re taking immunosuppressant drugs or antifungal products for a health condition.

a pair of glasses sitting on top of a computer

Question What You Read Everywhere!

If you follow my blog and keep up with the news, you’ve heard about a pair of recent studies published in the medical journal, Cell, that found probiotics may have very limited value.

Unfortunately, the mainstream media — seemingly everyone from CBS News to Forbes — jumped on the bandwagon to dispute the value of probiotics without looking at their considerable and proven benefits over time, many of which we’ve discussed here.

Since you have some questions and concerns about these reports, we have some answers.

What do the studies say?

Study one examined how well a generic probiotic with 11 strains of bacteria could colonize the intestinal lining when given to 25 healthy adults, as determined with a colonoscope taking specimens from the mucosa, versus a placebo.

This approach differs from most previous studies in which probiotics were measured in stools. Their justification was to determine if the generic probiotics you find at most supermarkets “colonize the gastrointestinal tract like they’re supposed to, and then whether these probiotics are having any impact on the human host.”

Study two investigated whether patients should be taking a probiotic when they were prescribed an antibiotic to prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea.

Twenty-one healthy patients were divided into three groups: Seven took an antibiotic, six more were given an antibiotic and the same generic probiotic from the first study and the rest received an antibiotic and pills containing fecal samples from their own microbiome.

What were the results?

In study one, the generic probiotic bacteria were found in the stools of each patient, and only in the lining of the colon of a few patients. This finding led scientists to conclude that, if probiotic bacteria weren’t found in the colon, they’re not beneficial. It also explains why many stories reported probiotics were ‘’useless.”

The results of study two were a bit more complicated:

  • The microbiomes of patients who received just an antibiotic returned to their healthy composition after 21 days.
  • Patients given fecal transplants experienced a normal intestinal microbiome within days after stopping the antibiotic.
  • Among patients treated with a generic probiotic, their microbiomes did not return to their original composition even five months later.

Problems with both studies

Now that you’ve had a chance to review both studies, it’s easier to see why taking these results at face value is tricky.

The problem with study one that examined the use of a generic probiotic was pretty straight-forward. These generic probiotics were given to healthy people with normal microbiomes, so the beneficial bacteria wouldn’t find a place in the lining of the colon to colonize.

In fact, the immune system of the intestines and existing microbiome would prevent it!

Studies have shown when patients struggle with gut health problems like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), taking a good probiotic can treat their symptoms and rebalance their microbiomes. So, probiotics aren’t “useless!”

In study two, because patients treated with a generic probiotic after receiving an antibiotic didn’t return to normal right away, researchers assumed the probiotic might cause ”harm” by increasing their risk of intestinal disorders. Moreover, researchers suggested patients “personalized probiotics” in the form of fecal transplants might lessen any risks.

Unfortunately, this phase of the study set up patients for more health problems like diarrhea down the road, merely by giving them antibiotics.

Plus, antibiotics change the composition and balance of bacteria in the gut, which may increase the activity of enzymes that trigger a faster absorption of carbohydrates, leaving you more vulnerable to obesity and diabetes.

Remember those extra carbs and fats feed poor dietary habits that disrupt your gut-brain axis, the biological connection that links your intestines, brain and emotions.

One more variable this research team didn’t consider in either study: The contribution of prebiotics, the non-digestible starches that feed the bacteria in your gut contained in a lot of probiotics, including EndoMune Advanced ProbioticEndoMune Junior Probiotic and EndoMune Metabolic Rescue.

Prebiotics have been shown to offer a number of health benefits connected with probiotics, like improving your sleep and giving your body some extra protection from type 2 diabetes.

Also, I have to take issue with the use of fecal transplants to engineer the results of this study. Fecal transplants may have performed better among three options in this second study, but going this route isn’t without its risks, especially if you’re receiving fecal matter from another donor.

In one 2015 report, a patient was successfully treated for a recurring C. diff infection with a fecal transplant from an overweight donor (her daughter) only to gain 34 pounds in just 16 months.

In other cases, people who have tried “do-it-yourself” fecal transplants from donors have suffered brand new health problems they never expected from people who seemed to be very healthy, but were carriers of germs they could pass on to others.

I cannot stress enough that using these results from both studies to imply that probiotics in many cases are “useless” or “harmful” just isn’t accurate.

As a physician specializing in gastroenterology, I’ve seen firsthand how the use of probiotics has changed the lives of patients suffering from simple problems like constipation and hard-to-treat ones like IBS. Also, patients who are on a strong course of antibiotics may avoid the risks of experiencing life-threating infections just by taking a probiotic too.

a woman holding a salad and measuring her waist

How to Optimize the Benefits of Ketosis

With many struggling to lose weight, people are searching to find ways to do it safely and easily. One diet that has re-emerged as a popular choice is the keto (ketogenic) diet.

Those who follow the keto diet eat foods containing low amounts of carbs, high quantities of fats and medium amounts of protein.

Replacing those carbs with fats triggers a metabolic change in your body called ketosis. Ketosis burns fats more efficiently and lowers your insulin and blood sugar levels.

The origins of the keto diet date back nearly a century ago as a solution to treat epilepsy safely when drugs weren’t effective. Over the past 25 years, this diet-based alternative has gained popularity as seizure rates have fallen 50 percent or more among approximately more than half of adults, according to recent reports.

The health of the human gut may play an important part in supporting the anti-seizure benefits people receive from following the keto diet too, according to a study appearing in Cell.

Boo to antibiotics!

Researchers at UCLA discovered the connection between gut health and the keto diet when they compared the health of normal mice to those raised in a germ-free environment and others treated with antibiotics, a well-known, drug-based enemy that depletes gut bacteria.

In initial tests, the microbiomes of healthy mice with normal microbiomes changed in just four days and they experienced far fewer seizures while eating a keto diet.

On the other hand, mice with depleted or non-existent microbiomes didn’t receive the same protective benefits from seizures when they were fed a keto diet. Why? Germ-free mice were missing two specific species of gut bacteria (Akkermansia muciniphila and Parabacteroides).

“We found we could restore seizure protection if we gave these particular types of bacteria together,” said researcher Christine Olson, according to a press release. “This suggests that these different bacteria perform a unique function when they are together.”

The gut-brain connection

UCLA researchers also learned how those species of gut bacteria, elevated by the keto diet, were also responsible for changing the level of biochemicals in the gut and bloodstream that affect neurotransmitters in the brain’s hippocampus.

(In the human brain, the hippocampus has many functions, including processing memory and regulating the “fight or flight” response.)

That pair of gut bacteria works together to increase levels of GABA (a neurotransmitter that quiets neurons), a connection that shows how the gut-brain connection may affect other conditions like epilepsy.

It’s also important to reiterate that multiple strains of bacteria working together made all the difference in protecting mice from seizures. Treating mice with just one strain of bacteria offered no protection at all.

However, probiotics, like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic and EndoMune Junior Probiotic for kids, contain multiple strains of bacteria that provide a wide range of health benefits for your unique and diverse microbiome.

How Antibiotics Caused an Epidemic

If you do a random search of my blog, one of the most popular topics you’ll find is antibiotics, and for a good reason too.

Not so long ago, antibiotics were considered “the Holy Grail” of modern medicine. Unfortunately, that advantage lasted only until our bodies had absorbed way too much of a good thing.

Additional exposure to antibiotics in flesh foods we eat and powerful anti-microbial substances contained in cleaning solutions and hand soaps have done much to tip the scales in the opposite direction, however.

The result: Creating unintentional and serious harm to human health via our overtaxed and compromised immune systems.

Along those lines of too much being a bad thing for your health, the very same concerns are true about overdoing antibiotics, especially for those who never needed them in the first place.

A good case in point is a recent study conducted at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine that appeared in the September 2017 issue of JAMA Internal Medicine.

Researchers reviewed medical records of some 1,500 patients admitted to Johns Hopkins for many reasons, including chronic diseases and trauma, and all were treated with antibiotics for a minimum of 24 hours.

No surprise, 20 percent of the patients who were tracked experienced unexpected health issues, including kidney, blood and gastrointestinal problems. Also, between 4-6 percent of patients were stricken with Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infections and other antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

Although scientists reported no deaths associated with antibiotics, many suffered complications just the same.

  • More diagnostic testing
  • Repeat admissions to the hospital
  • More visits to the emergency room or local clinics
  • Longer hospital stays

The real takeaway of concern for you and me in this study: Nineteen percent of patients were prescribed antibiotics they didn’t need. Of that subgroup, 20 percent sustained adverse effects from taking medically unnecessary drugs.

One way you can protect your health from unnecessary antibiotics: Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor questions about potential side effects and how to recognize them, says lead study author Dr. Pranita Tamma, director of John Hopkins’ pediatric antimicrobial stewardship program, according to a press release.

“Too often, clinicians prescribe antibiotics even if they have a low suspicion for a bacterial infection, thinking that even if antibiotics may not be necessary, they are probably not harmful. But that is not always the case.”

Even when taking antibiotics are necessary, however, be aware they can do great harm by affecting the balance of beneficial bacteria in your gut that governs your health and recovery from disease in so many ways.

That’s why taking a probiotic, ideally with multiple species of beneficial bacteria like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic, is the best, safest and most effective way to protect your gut and boost your immune system, even when you need to take an antibiotic.

If you need guidance on how and when to take a probiotic, especially when you’re sick, be prepared by reviewing my updated probiotic protocol for kids and adults today.

How Do You Take a Probiotic?

So, you’ve finally realized there are many reasons why you need to take a probiotic, but that’s only the first step toward improving your gut health.

How you take a probiotic — ideally with multiple species of beneficial bacteria — is even more important, as it helps you get the best value for your family’s health and your pocketbook.

Healthy kids and adults

Most healthy adults will get a much-needed boost to their immune system and gut health if they take a probiotic, ideally, about 30 minutes before eating a morning meal on an empty stomach.

This simple routine for most adults makes sense, based on the findings of a 2011 study featured in the journal Beneficial Microbes, that showed fewer good bugs contained in multi-species probiotics survived in smaller numbers through the upper gastrointestinal tract after a meal (when stomach acid is usually at its highest).

For small children age 3 or under, parents can protect their developing immune systems and reduce episodes of colic or diarrhea by sprinkling a probiotic in a powdered form (like EndoMune Junior) in a noncarbonated formula or liquid or on soft foods before or with a meal once a day.

Then, once your kids reach age 3, they can “graduate” to a chewy, fruity probiotic of their own (like EndoMune Junior Chewable).

When you’re sick

Another important consideration is how to take a probiotic when you’re sick. In fact, it’s becoming more common to see people taking a probiotic when their doctor prescribes an antibiotic, based on growing concerns about antibiotic-resistant infections.

Antibiotics can do a great deal of harm by wiping out the healthy bacteria in your gut and allowing bad bugs to hang around and cause more problems, like the persistent diarrhea associated with Clostridium difficile (C.diff).

Ideally, you’ll want to give your body at least a two-hour break in between taking a probiotic and antibiotic to allow those live and very beneficial probiotic bacteria an opportunity to protect your gut.

Before you begin taking a probiotic, it’s also critical to talk to your doctor about any concerns you may have, especially if you have a health condition that requires taking specific drugs, like antifungal products or immunosuppressants.

Deciding on adding a probiotic to your daily routine is one of the easiest things you can do for your health. But knowing how and when to use a probiotic effectively can make all the difference in your health for the long haul.

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