Our gut includes the digestive organs beginning from the mouth to the rectum. Various good bacteria reside within the gastrointestinal tract, forming the gut microbiome. These bacteria support gastrointestinal functions like digestion of food, regulation of metabolism, and weight gain. They also facilitate the immune system to prevent allergies and effectively fight infections. Since the gut microbiome also guarantees nerve health and shares a direct link with the brain, it protects children from developing disorders like autism and depression.
The intestinal microbiome starts to develop immediately after birth and relies upon factors like the nature of the diet, the use of medications, and exposure to germs. At the time of birth, their gut is sterile. When children are around three, their gut bacteria amount to 3 to 5 pounds and have a similar constitution to that of an adult that remains throughout their life. Hence, children must be encouraged to make the right choices in terms of diet to support the healthy development of the gut microbiome. Now that you have a brief idea about the paramount significance of gut bacteria, you can use the tips below to improve gut health in your children.
Increase Probiotics Intake
Probiotics are live bacteria that restore and improve the nature of the gut microbiome. Although probiotics are naturally present in foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, and kefir, you can also opt for probiotic supplements, available in every pharmacy. According to many pediatricians, choosing a children’s chewable probiotic supplement is the best option if fermented foods like those mentioned are difficult to find or if your child is a picky eater.
Include More Fiber
Dietary fiber, a complex carbohydrate present in plants, is the primary source of nutrition for gut bacteria. According to the latest research, when a child’s diet lacks fiber, the starving gut bacteria start feeding on the mucus lining the inner walls of the gut. It damages the inner walls of the intestine, triggering inflammation which leads to autoimmune disorders like inflammatory bowel disease, asthma, and allergies. To prevent chronic inflammation from setting in and causing worse problems, you should incorporate fruits, whole grains, vegetables, nuts, and legumes in your child’s diet to guarantee appropriate nourishment for the developing bacteria.
Avoid Fatty Foods
Doctors advise that you keep your children away from junk food and caffeinated beverages laden with Trans-fat, which is difficult for the body to digest and utilize. Intake of too much Trans-fat increases the number of harmful bacteria in the gut while decreasing the number of good bacteria. Simultaneously it increases inflammatory markers resulting in intestinal inflammation. Hence, make your children eat good fats like nuts, chia seeds, avocado, and dark chocolate.
Avoid Over Sanitizing
Sometimes being too protective about your kids can cause more harm than good. Increasing your child’s exposure to germs during their growth is one of the best ways to develop immunity and ensure a healthy gut. It is one of the main reasons kids of the previous generation were stronger and did not fall sick as much as kids today. As a parent, you should focus on cleanliness but avoid over-sanitizing. Encourage your kids to play outside, in the mud and grass, to build a natural immunity in the body that no medicine can replace. Motivate them to play with pets as well because frolicking with siblings and exposure to furry animals fosters the development of a healthy variety of good bacteria in the gut of babies and young children, which prevents asthma and some allergies.
Avoid Unnecessary Medication
Although antibiotics are life-saving drugs, they cause immense harm to gut health in the long term. Parents should give their children antibiotics only when necessary and refrain from giving them at the slightest inconvenience, such as diarrhea. Taking antibiotics is associated with significant drawbacks because they target bacteria indiscriminately. They kill good and bad bacteria in the gut, upsetting the natural balance of the gut microbiome, which results in a wider impact on your child’s long-term health. According to researchers, the use of antibiotics in children under two caused celiac disease, asthma, and weight gain in the long run.
Staying hydrated is critical in maintaining gut health because constipation resulting from a lack of fluids in the body can kill good bacteria and enable harmful bacteria to thrive in the gut. Therefore, encourage your child to drink plenty of water every day, especially if they have a lot of physical exertion, which leads to profuse sweating. If getting your child to drink plain water is hard, you can experiment with fruit-infused water, coconut water, fresh fruit juices, or fruits like melons and cucumbers with high water content.
As a mother, it is often challenging to give undivided attention to all the chores that you have to perform. However, even the busiest mom with a list of tasks is perceptive to even the slightest change in her kid’s health. Several factors, like stress, dehydration, and a lousy diet, lead to an unhealthy gut which can influence a child’s mood and behavior. Hence, it is pivotal to implement wholesome habits right from the start to guarantee a healthy gut microbiome.