Today I wanted my favourite holistic paediatrician Dr Elisa Song to talk to you about the use of antibiotics in winter, with particular reference to what steps to take when we need to use antibiotics with our children.
Many of us are aware that antibiotics are overused and sometimes inappropriately prescribed, but what a lot of parents don’t know is that antibiotic use can be associated with their children’s behavioural and mental health problems. Did you know that even just one single course of antibiotics can significantly increase your child’s risk of anxiety and depression, and antibiotic use has been associated with disruption of the gut microbiome and a higher risk for ADHD, anxiety, asthma, eczema, autoimmune illnesses, and even autism.
Dr. Elisa Song, is a NYU, Stanford, and UCSF trained holistic pediatrician and pediatric functional medicine expert, and what she wants to help parents with is really understanding what antibiotics do to your gut microbiome. Now, of course there’s a time and a place for everything and antibiotics can be lifesaving and sometimes your child may need antibiotics, but if your child takes antibiotics, just recognize that antibiotics are not selective, they’re going to kill all the bad stuff, but they’re also going to kill all that good stuff – all those good probiotics in your gut.
When we have an imbalance of bugs in our gut, that can lead to immune system problems, brain problems, and even hormone problems. So what can we do? Well, a few simple things …
When your child does need antibiotics, make sure that they’re also getting probiotics, getting back in all the good stuff. You can take probiotics as a pill, as a supplement. If you do take that, you want to make sure that you take your probiotics at least an hour or two away from the antibiotic dose, and get in the fermented foods. Foods like pickles, sauerkraut, miso, kimchi, or yoghurt (if your kids tolerate dairy). Fermented and cultured foods will get in those probiotics. They are actually going to give you much more bang for the buck than any probiotic supplement.
The other supplement that’s really very important. Well, there are two. The first one is glutamine. Glutamine is an amino acid that helps heal the gut lining, so it is very important after antibiotics, and secondly, zinc. You want to make sure that you’re getting in zinc rich foods, because zinc also helps heal the intestinal lining, and the inadvertent damage that might be done after antibiotics. Zinc foods include pretty much any animal protein, chicken, shellfish, beef, pumpkin seeds. Nuts and seeds are also a great way to get in zinc, any of your beans, legumes are a great way to get in zinc and your green leafy vegetables. So focus on getting in zinc rich foods, and that will also help make sure that your child can get the benefits from antibiotics with killing whatever bad bacteria is in their system, but not any of the other unwanted side effects.