What You Need To Know About Gut Health In Children

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There is a lot of talk these days about gut health and why it is important.

Strong links have been made between the state of our gut and our physical health. There is even evidence our gut impacts our mental wellbeing.

Interestingly, the gastrointestinal tract is sterile prior to birth. Babies obtain beneficial bacteria from their mothers as they travel through the birth canal and from breastmilk. The activity and composition of the gut microbiota then changes from infancy to old age in response to the genetic background, diet, immune system and health status. Everyone has a unique microbiome “fingerprint”.

Beneficial bacteria in our digestive system positively impacts the body’s vitamin and mineral absorbency, hormone regulation, digestion, vitamin production, immune response and ability to eliminate toxins.

As well as causing digestive issues such as bloating, constipation and diarrhoea, an imbalance in gut microflora can cause inflammation in our system and have an impact on the nervous system. This can affect moods, sleep patterns, energy levels as well as contributing to allergies and skin conditions such as eczema.

So goes without saying that gut health in children is incredibly important.

There are a number of things that can cause poor gut health in children.

  • Medications such as antibiotics, paracetamol, ibuprofen and asthma preventers
  • Poor diet – high in processed foods, sugar and unhealthy fats
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Gut infections

If your child is having toileting issues, suffering from skin conditions or complaining of a sore tummy, they may need a boost in healthy gut bacteria.

To improve and maintain a healthy gut, the following things are recommended:

  • Stick to whole foods. Lots of vegetables and whole grains will provide fibre that helps good bacteria to thrive. You want to get good prebiotics that feed bacteria. These are naturally found in veggies like asparagus, bananas, garlic, leeks, onions and tomatoes. Packaged and processed foods are low on nutritional value and high in sugar that can impact bacteria.
  • Go for probiotic foods. Yoghurts should be low in sugar and contain live cultures. You can also try fermented foods such as sauerkraut, pickles, apple cider vinegar or miso.
  • Let them play in the mud with the dog. Playing with dirt and pets actually strengthens our children’s immunity by exposing them to good bacteria.
  • Stop sanitising. The modern obsession with antibacterial cleaners and hand sanitisers actually works against gut health and stops good bacteria from getting in. Hand washing with regular soap and natural cleaners is all that’s needed.
  • Avoid unnecessary antibiotics. If required, follow up with a month of high strength multi-strain probiotics after a course of antibiotics to help get the gut back on track.

Hot tip: Microbiologist and mum of two, Erica Sonnenburg, reportedly tells her children they have a “pet” in their bellies who needs to be fed good foods to be happy and healthy. She claims this encourages them to eat their veggies and be conscious of what they eat. It’s worth a shot!

I was recently sent in the mail a new product by Caruso’s Natural Health which was their Kids Probiotic Immune Booster. Caruso’s Natural Health is an Australian, family owned company founded by Frank Caruso, supplying complementary medicines (vitamin & herbal supplements). This is not a paid sponsored post but I was gifted these products and am choosing to tell you about them because my kids actually like them. My kids have had probiotic powder on and off over the years to help encourage good gut bacteria however it has always been a bit fussy to remember to add to something they were eating that day.

Tablets have always been a bit hit and miss with my kids as to whether they would happily take them but both my 3 year old and 6 year old LOVE these strawberry flavoured immune booster tablets.  We have started used it as a treat for my 3 year old when he does a number 2 on the loo and that is a win / win all round.

They are free from nuts, gluten, wheat, dairy, yeast, lactose, soy, animal products, artificial sweeteners, preservatives and flavours.  If you are looking for something to help increase good gut health in your child then they are worth checking out in my opinion.

Caruso’s also have a range of other products you might find useful as well which you can see below …

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About Author

Renee Meier

Renée is a freelance writer, perpetual student and aspiring novelist. In her spare time she’s the sole parent to 3 rambunctious little people. She survives predominantly on coffee and squishy hugs.

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