A healthy gut has around 100 trillion microorganisms that reside and make up the human gut microbiome! These bacteria influence digestion, immune function, metabolism, and mental health. Imbalances of these bacteria (either too much bad bacteria and/or too few beneficial bacteria) and a leaky gut barrier can negatively affect all these areas. When gut health is compromised, our whole body suffers.
Gut bacteria diversity can vary widely and change over time depending on many factors. Limiting gut health disruptions as much as possible and promoting an environment for beneficial bacteria to thrive will help our kids decrease their risk of developing chronic conditions, improve their immune health, promote a positive mental health state and ensure they absorb the nutrients they need to grow appropriately.
As much as possible, avoid these gut health disrupters:
- Processed, highly inflammatory foods (vegetable oils, processed meat, refined carbohydrates)
- Trans fats
- Low fiber intake
- High stress
- Chronic infections
- Some antibiotics and medications
- Inadequate sleep
- C-section births
Creating a Healthy Gut
Foods for a Healthy Gut
- Anti-inflammatory foods – omega 3s like fatty fish, chia/flax/hemp seeds, olives and olive oil, nuts, avocado, and avocado oil
- Non-digestible carbohydrates or prebiotics, which feed good bacteria – garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, bananas, berries, flaxseed, chicory, oats, leafy greens, and legumes
- Fermented foods that contain probiotics or beneficial bacteria, such as raw sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, kefir, miso, and yogurt
- Polyphenol-rich foods such as berries, cherries, plums, and elderberry
Lifestyle Factors Influence Gut Diversity
- Manage infections and avoid unnecessary antibiotics, which can decrease beneficial bacteria
- Encourage adequate sleep!
- Help kids manage their stress levels
- Move! Research shows that physical activity can promote a larger variety of gut bacteria
By taking action to promote a healthy gut for your child, you will be able to positively impact your child’s digestion, immune function, metabolism, and mental health.