by Swati Mehra
“All Disease Begins in The Gut.” - Hippocrates.
The gut has many important functions such as aiding digestion, the absorption of nutrients and also waste removal. The gut also influences the immune system which is needed to fight off bugs, and communicates with the rest of the body, particularly the brain!
I will talk about the gut-brain axis some other time. For now, let's focus on 'the gut.'
Thriving, healthy gut microbiome contributes to the production of chemicals and signaling messages for the good mental and physical health of your child.
Colds, flu, and viral infections are a fact of life for children, but there are smart steps one can take to ensure a happy healthy and well developed immune system which is developed by ensuring they eat healthily.
This can be influenced and corrected with the food and drink we serve them every day. What we eat is key to the essential balance in their gut.
There are many different ways to boost gut health and build a strong microbiome. Eating a diet high in a variety of probiotics and fibres such as prebiotic foods is a great place to start. These foods are also are good immune booster foods.
After discussing with my pediatrician, and after talking to my own parents and their parents I realized that Michael Pollan said something really wonderful. “Don't eat anything your great-great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food." Investing in your child’s gut health in their early years will not only improve their overall health in the short term but will also set them up for good health later in life!
I’m listing down 5 best foods for the child's gut. These are also natural immune booster foods:
The good bacteria in the gut thrive when they have access to carbs that contain indigestible fibers. Foods high in indigestible fiber like Oats and whole wheat help digestion and make the gut strong.
This yummy ingredient can be brought to use in the form of oil, milk or crushed into varieties of snacks, smoothies or chutneys. Healthy tropical oil contains fatty acids that help nourish the digestive lining, keep pathogenic microbes at bay and support immune cell functioning.
Some foods actually contain strains of beneficial bacteria that can help populate the digestive tract. Yogurt with live and active cultures and/ or fermented milk easily available on the market shelves are rich in health-promoting probiotics and go a long way in colonizing the child’s gut with beneficial bacteria.
4. High Fibre Foods
An apple a day keeps the doctor away – this falls true also when it comes to your child’s’ gut health. Of course, it isn’t just applicable to apples. Fiber-rich foods like beans, berries, broccoli, and high fibre cereals help keep your child’s gut healthy and happy.
Drinking plenty of fluids at appropriate times helps keep children well-hydrated throughout the day. Fluids have a good effect on your child’s bowels and help with gut health. This is particularly important in hot climates like ours and during seasonal changes. The healthy options include fruit juices, milk, limewater, etc. Say a big no to sodas and other sugary drinks.
Apart from the choice of food, always let your kids get their exercise at the playground or at home. They need it in either form to keep their body healthy and happy, and to promote good bacteria in their bodies. When kids exercise, endorphins are released and this helps to relieve stress, which also leads to better gut health.
It’s crucial for a child to have a strong gut. My pediatrician once advised me that if I happen to notice my little one experiencing discomfort and developing digestive problems (way too often), it is something that needs to be addressed immediately! This is a problem that all parents face sooner or later, and if left for a prolonged period, it could lead to far more serious issues.
So, take care of 'the gut.'
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