By Tamara Duker Freuman, RD, CDN (www.TamaraDuker.com)
While the promise of Spring is right around the corner, according to epidemiologists, we’re still right in the midst of peak winter illness season. For those of us with kids, this time of year is particularly likely to bring some unwelcome bugs into our home—often in the form of stomach flu (gastroenteritis) or strep throat. As you tend to your littlest patients—putting on a pot of chicken soup or filling their prescriptions for antibiotics—I might also suggest picking up some lactose-free yogurt as well.
What do your child’s winter illnesses have to do with lactose-free yogurt, you might ask? Simple: it may be beneficial in lessening the severity or duration of diarrhea.
True lactose intolerance—as in, insufficient production of the lactase enzyme required to digest milk—is quite rare in young children. But a temporary form of lactose intolerance, which results from damage to the cells in the intestines that produce the lactase enzyme, can commonly result from a nasty bout of diarrhea like those associated with the stomach flu. Once the diarrhea Tamara Duker Freuman-subsides, it can take up to two full weeks for the damaged cells to fully regenerate and resume their peak lactase-producing activity. During that time, your child may be more sensitive to dairy products that contain lactose, and might benefit from replacing regular dairy with lactose-free versions. (Of course, this holds true for adults as well!)
Similarly, common childhood illnesses like strep throat are usually treated with a course of antibiotics. Since antibiotics don’t distinguish between the bad bacteria (strep) and the good bacteria (your friendly gut flora) in your body, the delicate balance of good guys and bad guys in the intestines may be upset. This often results in an unpleasant condition called antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD).
Research studies have shown that certain probiotics can help shorten the duration and lessen the severity of antibiotic-associated diarrhea, particularly in children. Green Valley Organics’ lactose-free yogurts all contain the Flourish® blend of 10 different live & active probiotic strains—at least 3 of which* have been demonstrated in scientific studies to be effective in reducing the risk of developing antibiotic-associated diarrhea or lessening its severity! Eating one or two Green Valley Organics yogurts per day would be an easy and tasty way to help restore balance to a tummy that’s been thrown off-kilter by antibiotics—not to mention the fact that cool, smooth yogurt feels good going down a sore throat! And since it’s lactose-free, Green Valley Organics yogurt may also make digestion a bit easier until the diarrhea subsides.
Whether you’re playing offense against a winter illness or playing defense to help keep your healthy digestive tract running smoothly, eating a probiotic-rich, lactose-free yogurt each day is a winning strategy.
* Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Streptococcus thermophilus and Lactobacillus acidophilus