Growing up healthy starts with your child’s inner health, so it goes without saying that if you want to set your little ones up for a lifetime of good health, it’s essential to bolster the good bacteria in their little bellies. Luckily we have 4 simple ways to start improving your child’s gut health to support their general wellbeing today.
1. Go high on wholefoods
Eating wholefoods will reward your child’s body with the goodness of fibre and other essential nutrients that little bodies require for regulation of gut health. Wholefood are those foods that are minimally processed – meaning they are consumed in as close to their natural form as possible. Think eating that apple, rather than drinking apple juice – or choosing wholegrain bread and pasta over white bread and pasta. Remember, to be a processed food (and be packaged for months or years on the shelf), natural and fresh whole foods are treated with heat, the use of preservatives, the use of salts like MSG, and the addition of sugar – while in the process being stripped of their naturally occurring essential nutrients.
For your child’s gut health, instead of processed foods choose fresh fruit and vegetables, the highest quality vegetable and animal protein sources you can afford (organic, free-range and grass fed where you can) and whole grains.
2. Go slow on the sugar
You only have to look at the growing reports of childhood obesity and chronic disease to see the potential negative effects that excess sugar can have on our children’s health, but did you know that research is revealing that sugar may also be changing their gut flora?
Having lots of sugar in your diet promotes the growth of sugar-loving bad bacteria in the gut which can affect the health of beneficial bacteria and also result in cravings for more sugar. By reducing your child’s processed sugar intake, you deprive bad bacteria of a key energy source meaning you are supporting the health of beneficial bacteria and the overall health of your child's gut by steering clear of the lolly aisle.
3. Swap to better fats
The difference between good fats and better fats comes from the balance of healthy foods your little ones are receiving every day. Kids need fats for strong muscles and brain growth and development, as well as for a healthy gut. Choosing a range of healthy fats for your kids will ensure their gut flora is healthy, and their digestion strong.
Good fats include those found in dairy, red meat, seafood and coconuts – with better fats coming from avocadoes, olive oil, flaxseed oil and oily fish like salmon and tuna. Choosing at least a 50:50 split between fat types will help your kids grow up strong and healthy, and help their healthy gut flora thrive.
And don’t forget, in order for these good and better fats to do their jobs means staying clear of bad trans fats found in convenience and processed foods like fried foods, packaged foods and margarines.
4. Choose a daily supplement suitable for kids
To support the health of your child’s digestion, a probiotic supplement can also be beneficial. When selecting a probiotic for your child, be sure to choose a clinically researched supplement formulated specifically for use in children. That way, you can be sure your kids are getting what they need to support a healthy gut while also providing a beneficial bacteria source that is free from dairy, lactose, gluten and wheat.