Our bodies work based on the gentle balance between the proper functioning of the organs and the tiny microbes in the gut and mouth. We often overlook the importance of the healthy flora in the gut, but in reality, they are required for maintaining overall health, right from birth.
The Beneficial Microbes in the Gut
The microbes present in the gut comprise bacteria, virus and fungi and most of these microbes are beneficial for our health. An adult gut houses trillions of these microbes that support good digestion and our immunity.
Research shows that babies are born sterile and do not contain any microbes apart from the tiny amount they may get from the placenta. A baby’s gut flora starts developing within the first few hours after birth and is built mainly from contact with the mother’s skin and breastfeeding.
A child’s gut flora is influenced mainly by the parents’ gut flora and if the adults don’t care for theirs, it could have adverse effects on the baby’s health.
It has been proven that good gut health may prevent the onset of diseases like hay fever and asthma and even food allergies in babies. Babies who are nearly three months old, with a lower variety of gut microbes, stand a higher chance of developing food allergies linked to peanuts, eggs and dairy.
What Are Probiotics?
A study conducted in 2015 showed that more than a third of the children in the U.S. eat at least one fast-food-sized burger every day. Other than leading to health problems like obesity and high cholesterol, processed foods can also dampen the benefits of the gut flora.
This can be easily remedied though, with the help of probiotics. Probiotics are natural foods or supplements filled with the gut-friendly microbes that are so essential for the body. Here are a few tips for incorporating probiotics into your child’s diet and yours:
Say hello to fermented foods:
Fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut can support gut health — you’ll just have to find creative ways to get your children to eat them.
Pick high-fiber foods:
Foods rich in fiber like beans, vegetables, nuts and flaxseeds support the bacteria in the gut to improve digestion and overall health.
Prebiotics are fiber-rich foods, but not all fibers are prebiotics; however, green bananas, asparagus, sunchokes, garlic and onions are known sources of prebiotics that can support gut health.
Pick the right supplements:
Choose probiotics that contain multiple strains of bacteria like bifidobacteria and lactobacilli. Lactobacilli are naturally available in children and adding a supplement enhances its availability for maintaining their gut health.
Apart from digestion and assimilation of nutrients, good gut health can also support other aspects of your child’s health by reducing the risk of colic and reflux in babies, support brain development and improve urinary tract and vaginal health.
Koch, A. (2018, April 05). Gut Health Needs To Start In Childhood. Here’s Exactly What A Kids’ Nutrition Expert Recommends. Retrieved from https://www.mindbodygreen.com/articles/what-kids-should-eat-for-optimal-gut-health
What Are The Benefits of Probiotics for Children? (n.d.). Retrieved from https://probiotics.mercola.com/probiotic-benefits-children.html
Carr, N. (2017, July 20). Why your baby’s gut health is so important and how to improve it. Retrieved from https://www.todaysparent.com/baby/why-your-babys-gut-bacteria-is-so-important/