You might have heard us talking about the fact that a healthy gut is essential in order to boost your immunity and assist with losing weight.
But what about the little people in your life? Did you know that you can help improve your children’s gut health too?
For kids, the gut’s main role is to regulate their digestion (and keep things moving!), as well as to give them the immunity they need to fight off any bugs that they get exposed to.
An unhappy gut in a child can lead to stomach aches and issues with absorption of vitamins and minerals. The trouble is, a child would find it difficult to explain that they aren’t feeling quite right and an adult might just put it down to their mood.
Other symptoms such as issues with sleeping, constipation, bloating or lethargy can often be caused by gut issues.
Here are 5 simple ways to give your child’s gut health a boost.
1. Reduce Processed Foods
This can be a tough habit to break but if your child’s lunchbox is filled with Tiny Teddies and Roll Ups, it is time to make the change. Processed foods, and those containing excessive sugar can be causing your child’s gut health to be compromised.
Making your own healthy homemade snacks and treats can be a snap with the help of our Healthy Kids Cookbook. Read more here from our nutritionist about how to reduce the sugar in your family’s diet.
You can also ensure that your child has an adequate intake of fibre, by adding things like pears and apples (with peel on), potato and sweet potato (skin on), legumes (try this healthy hummus) and berries.
Cram it with loads of healthy options and they won’t miss the processed snacks they are used to. And don’t forget to keep their water intake up as this helps flush their system.
2. Put down the hand sanitiser
Let your kids play in the sand and dirt and don’t worry excessively about germs. This can help build up their immune system so that they can fight off any germs that come their way.
Naturally this doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t wash their hands after using the bathroom. Instead, just remember to let kids be kids and if they want to play in the mud every now and then – encourage it.
The exercise is also good for their digestive system and gut health, so the more they can run around the better.
3. Check the loo
Encourage your kids to keep an eye on their stools and to let you know if they’re not quite right. For infants you can just take note when you change their nappy.
For instance if they are often runny or they experience constipation or painful stools this can be a warning sign that something in their system isn’t quite right. If it is ongoing you can speak to your GP about whether they might recommend a probiotic supplement.
4. Avoid overuse of antibiotics
When your child is ill it’s natural to visit the doctor and see if they might need medication. But overuse of antibiotics can kill your child’s good gut flora.
Speak to your doctor about your child’s symptoms and ask if antibiotics are necessary. There may be other options available if you ask.
5. Add some of these foods
Some foods can help support good gut health. Try our Healthy Homemade Fruit Jelly from the Healthy Kids Cookbook which contains gelatin. Try adding more natural or Greek yoghurt to their diet with recipes like our Coconut Choc Jam Nutty Yoghurt Pots (and read here to find out which plain yoghurt our nutritionist buys). Or pop some pickles or sauerkraut on their homemade burgers. Use homemade broth (stock) in your bolognese and soups.