As a parent with a background in science, I usually feel comfortable in the drugstore medicine aisle. I’ll stand there for 15 minutes comparing ingredients and prices, getting in every other parent’s way, and I’ll walk out feeling confident that what I have bought is a good value and will make my wee one feel at least a little bit better. Not so when I found myself faced with a daunting aisle of probiotics—live microorganisms that can confer health benefits—at my local health food store recently. I wanted to find some good bacteria to repopulate the gut of my toddler daughter, who was finishing up what seemed like her 80th dose of antibiotics in three months. I couldn’t even understand the labels, let alone fathom what I should buy. Did I want Lactobacillus GG? Bifidobacterium lactis? Lactobacillus acidophilus? What the hell were Lactobacillus anyway, and why does one small tub of them cost $28?
…Many reports have observed that heavier patients appear more likely to come down with infections during a hospital stay, acquire weaker protection from vaccinations and, as with River, suffer more complications from the flu.
Weight alone may not be the entire explanation. A tantalizing line of evidence suggests that unhealthful foods — fatty, salty, sugary, processed foods — may disrupt the body’s defenses in a way that promotes inflammation, infection, autoimmune diseases and even illnesses like cancer.