Fuelling Growth – Nutrition and Gut Health for Kids

Gut Health for kids

Gut health for kids is just as important as it is for adults, perhaps even more so. Starting off life the right way impacts a child’s growth and overall health as they develop into adolescents and then young adults.

With gut health being so vital, let’s look at some practical tips for maintaining and enhancing gut health for kids through diet, lifestyle changes and gaining a better understanding of the gut-brain connection.

The importance of gut health

The gut is like a mini ecosystem of microbes, including yeast, fungi, bacteria and other microbes that all work together for your child’s greater good. Bacteria assist with food digestion and the absorption of essential vitamins. The gut also plays a role in the production of neurotransmitters. These transmitters help produce serotonin and dopamine in the brain, those vital feel good chemicals that affect our mood. If you want both a healthy and a happy child, then good gut health is essential for both.

The more diverse the gut ecosystem is, the more it thrives. In fact, gut health also plays a vital role in the ongoing health of the heart and liver. It boosts the body’s immune system as well, to help fight off disease.

Signs of an irritated gut in children

Poor digestion and irregular bowel movements are two signs of an irritated gut. Uncomfortable digestion and stomach aches are also indicators of poor gut health in your child. The consequences are a lack of sleep, general fatigue and a compromised immune system. An upset stomach or poor general health are also signs that your child’s gut health needs some attention.

Six practical ways to boost your child’s gut health

If you want to set up your child for a lifetime of good overall health and mental well-being, follow these six tips to ensure gut health at all times.

1. Feed the gut good bacteria

One of the best things for thriving gut microbes is dietary fibre, things like complex carbohydrates such as those found in plants. Therefore, you’ll want to feed your child a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Whole grains, nuts and legumes also help feed the good bacteria.

As kids aren’t always fans of healthy, high-fibre food, you might need to find creative ways to entice them to eat foods rich in fibre. One example is dipping carrots in hummus, or cooking a delicious pie that’s also loaded up with finely chopped vegetables.

It’s important to limit processed foods as much as possible, as these types of foods do very little to promote gut health and will often be more harmful than nutritious.

2. Introduce pre and probiotics

Administering pre and probiotics are ways you can guarantee your kid’s gut health. They’re loaded with all the good bacteria for a healthy gut and many kids like the taste of Yakult and delicious yoghurts loaded up with fruits and berries. Probiotics are also found naturally in foods such as bananas, oats and barley.

If your child has recently been on a dose of antibiotics, gut health and bacteria balance are quickly restored with pre and probiotics.

3. Keep hydrated with plenty of filtered water

Remaining hydrated at all times is essential for gut health and your child’s well-being overall. However, not all water is particularly healthy. In Australia, tap water contains chlorine to kill bacteria. Chlorine doesn’t discriminate with what bacteria it kills, so when your child drinks tap water, that chlorine consumption destroys good bacteria in the stomach.

It’s a good idea to invest in a water filter for your kitchen tap. These filters remove chlorine and are a healthier alternative to drinking bottled water.

A well-hydrated body also helps to avoid constipation.

4. Get plenty of vitamin C

Vitamin C is essential for good health overall, but it also plays an important role in gut health. As Vitamin C promotes the production of collagen in the body, this collagen ensures a healthy gut lining. Without a healthy gut lining, your child can’t have a healthy gut.

Vitamin C can be in the form of supplements. Ideally, though, ensure your child consumes food rich in Vitamin C, such as oranges, lemons, berries and more.

5. Avoid gut irritants

Foods like processed meats, chips, food high in sugar content and packaged foods will all only serve to irritate your child’s gut, rather than promote good gut health. Also, cut back on anything containing artificial colours, flavours or preservatives.

6. Limit sterilisation

As parents, we want the best for our kids and to protect them at all costs. This includes protecting them against germs. However, sterilising everything they touch will likely do more harm than good, as it can limit the good bacteria they come into contact with, as well as reduce their body’s ability to resist bad bacteria and avoid illness.

Discover good gut health with our help

At Childhood Obesity Prevention, we’re here to help you and your child learn about good nutrition and how to maintain a healthy gut. Book a personal consultation today and also be sure to pick up a copy of our book on good nutrition, Ride to Life. As always, contact us for further information.