Gut Health

PODCAST: "Children and Probiotics" with Kiran Krishnan on Healing Quest Radio

Just Thrive is again proud to be featured on Healing Quest Radio with microbiologist Kiran Krishnan, and hosts Judy Brooks and Roy Walkenhorst!

Below is the podcast transcript, or scroll to the bottom for a link to listen to the live podcast...


Judy Brooks: Hi and welcome back to Healing Quest. I'm Judy Brooks.

Roy Walkenhorst: And I'm Roy Walkenhorst. The focus here on Healing Quest is integrated health, including mind/body medicine and how it can help us achieve optimum well being, and that optimum well being includes the little ones in our life.

Judy Brooks: Well, we're bringing this up now because of recent research showing that commonly used household cleaners may be making children over weight. Wow. I mean, that's amazing. We're talking about toddlers here. The study in the Canadian Medical Journal said the chemicals in disinfectants and detergents were altering the microbes in the gut of young children leading to overweight toddlers.

Roy Walkenhorst: Now, babies living in household that used eco-friendly cleaners had very different gut microbes and were much less likely to be overweight as toddlers. So when it comes to protecting those precious little tummies in our life, the subject of probiotics logically comes up.

Judy Brooks: But are probiotics a good idea for kids, and if so, at what age should we start them? Well, fortunately, we know just who to ask about all of this. Microbiologist Kiran Krishnan of Just Thrive Probiotics, and he's been on the show a lot with us because he's just got so much great information, and we have been big probiotic fans for a long time. 

Roy Walkenhorst: And more and more research is being done showing how important our GI tract is, how microbiome as it's called for adults and now it turns out really, really important for children as well.

Roy Walkenhorst: So Kiran's on the phone with us, and we're pleased to welcome him from his home base in Chicago. So, Kiran, thanks for joining us here on Healing Quest and helping us really understand I guess, frankly, the magnitude of what the Canadian scientists found, which is that, gosh, moms who are just trying to keep their kitchen clean could be using cleaners with chemicals in them that could have a really big impact on their kids. Is that true?

Kiran Krishnan: Yeah, absolutely. It absolutely is. Thank you for having me as usual. In fact, this is a follow up study to other studies that have been done with this topic. They've shown that households that use chlorine based cleaners, for example, or cleaners that are very strong anti-microbiol, tend to have kids that have higher incident rates of allergies, asthma, and even infections. And there is this whole idea of the hygiene hypothesis, which we may have talked about before, where what we're doing is replacing our daily exposure from beneficial or benign bacteria to harmful chemicals. 

Judy Brooks: Better with chemicals.

Kiran Krishnan: Yeah, exactly. We totally flipped the script on how we are supposed to interact, and we very quickly forget that for the vast majority of human evolution for 99.99% of the time that our species has been on the earth, we've been in constant osmosis with the microbial world around us. And there's significant benefit to that. And then when we replace that interaction with interactions with really harsh chemicals to create this notion of cleanliness and so on, we really can do harm to our bodies. So it's really exciting that large research institutes are recognizing this and doing studies on it.

Roy Walkenhorst: And that harm could be seen or manifested very early in life. I mean, toddlers could be overweight as a result of this.

Kiran Krishnan: Yeah, in fact, that's one of the outcomes. So obesity is driven by an anti-microbiol mechanism. One great example of that is in the meat industry, right? So the main reason they use antibiotics in the pig and the beef industry is not to make the animals healthier or free of infection, that's part of it, but the biggest reason, economic reason is because it makes the animals fatter quicker.

Judy Brooks: That's another reason to eat grass fed, pasture raised meat.

Kiran Krishnan: Exactly, yeah. Exactly. Because that kind of chemical anti-microbrial, once it gets into the gut, which it does in toddlers and kids that are crawling around on the floor and touching all the surfaces and putting their hands in their mouths and all that. We used to cringe when we think about them doing that with bacteria around, but it's even more cringe-worthy is they're doing that with chemicals and picking those up from the floor and the counter tops and putting them into their mouths. Because what it's doing is it's killing off bacteria in the gut similar to an antibiotic would that can also lead to obesity, metabolic dysfunctions, high incident rate of type 2 diabetes in young kids, and then, of course, all of the immune dysfunctions as well.


Roy Walkenhorst: So it really changes their digestive system?

Kiran Krishnan: It does. Yeah, and their digestive system, their microbiome, all of the bugs that live in their intestines really govern your metabolic system, govern your immune system. So once you start disrupting those by being exposed to high levels of these chemicals, and kids are more susceptible to it than adults are, then you start yourself on this path for complete disfunction. It might start as overweightness and obesity, but it can and will end up with other issues as well like auto-immune disease and asthma and allergies.

Kiran Krishnan: We're also seeing that asthma is an epidemic in the western world, among kids.

Judy Brooks: I've noticed that that it seems to be more ... Yes, yes. Two of our grandkids have some of those symptoms.

Kiran Krishnan: Yeah. Absolutely. In fact, asthma is such a severe epidemic in places like Finland, which is very similar to the U.S., that they've done large scale studies to figure out what's going on. So Finland is a great example because there was a Finnish allergy study, a Finnish asthma study that looked at the differences in asthma and allergy rates in a town in Finland that's only 100 kilometers away from the town in Russia, right?

Kiran Krishnan: So geographically, they're very close. Culturally, they're very close in terms of the types of foods they eat, they're very close. The only differences in Russia, they have very low levels of allergies and asthma, and they're just 100 kilometers away in Finland they have very high levels. So they did an extensive study to try to figure out what was driving the high rates of allergies end up being dysfunctions in Finland. Then one of the biggest things they noticed that was in Russia they did not sterilize their homes with chemical based cleaners, they had their windows open more often so that all of these wonderful microbes from the outside world get to come into your home, and in Finland, they sterilized their home every single day or at least multiple times a week and they had their windows closed for most of the time.


Kiran Krishnan: So those simple differences in very similar cultures, similar diet, can cause a significant increase in immune dysfunction and that's the same kind of dysfunction with the weight issue.

Judy Brooks: Now we're talking about children right now, but certainly this is true for adults as well.

Kiran Krishnan: Absolutely. Yeah. In fact, the fact it starts in children so early because it's easier to see those changes in kids, but it occurs in adults similarly. And there's been studies in the whole hygiene hypothesis, how we've sterilized our homes too much and we get very little interaction with microbes, and that has lead to all types of metabolic and immune dysfunctions in adults as well.

Roy Walkenhorst: If you're just joining us, I'm Roy Walkenhorst.

Judy Brooks: And I'm Judy Brooks, and we're speaking with Kiran Krishnan, microbiologist with Just Thrive Probiotics. So one of the things that we can do is, first of all, kind of green our home and not be using those chemical products to clean the house. But the other thing is taking a daily probiotic. So let's talk about how that really helps.

Roy Walkenhorst: And, let me just leap on here, how early should that be done with youngsters?

Kiran Krishnan: Yeah. So that's really important. So taking a probiotic like the spore probiotic we work with that actually increases diversity in the microbiome, meaning it's increasing the growth of a whole bunch of other bacteria in the gut, which is really what we need in order to improve our metabolic and immune system. We start kids as early as four months, six months, especially if they've been c-sectioned born, which means they get less exposure to all of mom's good bacteria, especially if they've had antibiotics early on in life. Those kids are more susceptible to all of these dysfunctions than kids who are vaginal birth, who are breastfeeding, and who have not had antibiotics.

Judy Brooks: Obviously, at that young age, they're not taking pills. So we can just open up the Thrive probiotic and put the capsule into like their juice or something.

Kiran Krishnan: Exactly. Yeah, you can actually mix it into any kind of food or drink, cold or hot. Heat doesn't matter. These are very resistant strains. Like with my kids, for example, when they were that young, taking since they were born basically. But when they were that young, at four or five months of age, I would mix it into the rice cereal and things that they were eating at that time. We started making pulp of fruits and vegetables with a little blender, and I would put that in the blender products. Now that they're older, they get it in a couple of scoops of yogurt. We mix in the probiotic, the Thrive probiotic, the powder itself, and that's how they get it every day.


Kiran Krishnan: But, yeah, absolutely. It's so important for kids to start taking it.

Judy Brooks: And I know a lot of people give their children probiotics, but they're like in gummy form or whatever. But those are not spore based probiotics. So to our listeners out there who maybe think, "Well, I'm already giving my children probiotics." It's not the same thing, right?

Kiran Krishnan: Absolutely, yeah. It's really important to get this multi-spore formula that's three or four spore strains together, that's how they're found in nature, that's how they work best together, that's how we're doing all of our research is with a multi-spore strains. A lot of these gummies and confectionary items and all that, we tested a lot of them and the bacteria is just dead in there. They don't survive this processing. So you're just getting a piece of candy with some sugar, and you're not really helping yourself.

Judy Brooks: Well, thank you. We're out of time, again. We could just talk to you for the whole show. You've got so much great information. But thanks again for joining us today, and we'll have you back I hope in a few weeks.

Roy Walkenhorst: I'm going to review all of the cleaners in our kitchen.

Judy Brooks: Well, we've been speaking with Kiran Krishnan about how probiotics can help protect the little ones in our life from the chemicals in household cleaners. And, boy, he had a lot of interesting things to say.

Roy Walkenhorst: It makes all the sense in the world because these precious little ones are little. Their systems are so sensitive, and it doesn't take much. So one of the things I think that I've learned in this 15 years of being on the Healing Quest with you is we really have to be so careful about doing everything we can to reduce the amount of chemicals in our life. Every place we can do it, we can try to get them out of our food by eating organic, and try to get them out of the way we keep our house cleaned by not cleaning with disinfectants that have a bunch of chlorine and other chemicals in them because they're not good for us.

Judy Brooks: One of the other things that I really liked about what he said is that you may already be giving your children a probiotic, like a gummy.

Roy Walkenhorst: And they're doing a good thing.

Judy Brooks: And they are. Yes, but Kiran said you really kind of wasting your money on those. I mean, in a way it's candy. So you can take the Just Thrive capsules and open them up and put them into their juice. And know they're really getting into their digestive system.

Roy Walkenhorst: Exactly.

Judy Brooks: And it's not going to hurt them. So that, for me, was the big takeaway.

Roy Walkenhorst: Many good takeaways.

Judy Brooks: And don't forget podcast of this and other Healing Quest shows are available on our website at, and please, follow up on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter at Healing Quest. I'm Judy Brooks.

Roy Walkenhorst: And I'm Roy Walkenhorst and you're listening to Healing Question on iHeart Radio.