Almost all of the nutrients that we get from foods are absorbed by our gut. It plays an important role in keeping kids healthy, both physically and mentally. Kids gut health is vital for their overall well being as it influences many aspects of health including metabolism, immune system, nervous system and digestive tract. Child gets his/ her gut microbiome (living bacteria in gut) at the time of birth and it is set up in early childhood. Children’s microbiome (living bacteria in gut) remains flexible before the age of four or five. This is a good time to build a strong and healthy gut among them. The key nutrients absorbed in the gut are iron, protein, carbohydrates and fat. All these nutrients are essential for kid’s overall growth and development. Most of the bacterias in our body are good for us. A healthy gut contains healthy bacteria that not only helps in proper digestion, but also fight with infectious disease causing bacteria, virus and fungi (bad bacteria). Kids gut health says a lot about their internal health. If you want to set your child up for a lifetime of good health, it is essential to flourish kids gut health with healthy bacteria. According to a study, having good bacteria in the gut can improve immune system, hormones, depression and provide several other health benefits like healing, weight gain for kids.
Signs of an unhealthy Gut
There are many factors that affect kids gut health such as eating too much processed and high sugar food, stress, too little sleep and taking excessive antibiotics. All of these lead to damage to kids gut health which results in many health issues. Here are some common problems that may occur due to unhealthy gut:
Stomach discomfort: If your child has symptoms such as gas bloating, diarrhea, constipation, heartburn and stomach ache, these can be a sign of an unhealthy gut and it is due to the bacteria living inside gut, intestines, stomach, and colon. These bacteria are called microbiome and symptoms of stomach discomfort occur when the balance of bacteria is not right. (How to know if the digestive system needs help?)
Craving for sugar: it has been studied that gut bacteria releases special proteins that are similar to hunger regulating hormones (leptin and ghrelin) which affect both your kids food craving and mood. When you take a high sugar diet, the amount of good bacteria in your gut decreases and this imbalance can cause more craving for sugary food, which results in further damage to your kids gut health. (How does sugar and sugary foods can harm the bones of the child?)
Skin irritation: Gut health plays a vital role in keeping your skin clear and healthy. The bacteria in the gut influence the balance of skin bacteria. Imbalance of gut bacteria can cause skin issues in both kids and adults. Skin condition like eczema and dryness may occur due to unhealthy gut. (Home remedies to solve allergy in kids)
Sleep: An unhealthy gut can also affect your sleep and leave you feeling tired during the entire day. Almost all of the body’s serotonin (a happy hormone that affects sleep) is produced in the gut. So if the gut is imbalanced, it may lead to sleep deprivation. (Foods that can help with sleep)
Immunity: 70-80% of immune cells are located in the gut (large intestine). This is also home to 100 trillion bacteria (gut microorganisms). There is enough research linking gut bacteria to immunity. The shift in lifestyle, rising pollution, use of antibiotics, and processed food consumption has all together impacted the quality of bacteria in our gut. This has contributed to compromised immunity in kids and adults. (Foods to increase immunity in kids)
5 ways to boost kids Gut Health
Eat fermented foods (probiotics): Probiotics are live bacteria (naturally occurring in food) that are good for you, your digestion and for your GUT!. Fermented foods are the most natural source of live bacteria that is Probiotics. There is no recommended daily intake for probiotics, so there is no way to know exactly what quantity is best. Therefore, add as many fermented foods to your daily diet as possible like yogurt, kefir. They can also be found in other fermented foods such as sauerkraut or kimchi. Probiotics are one of the best foods for digestion problems. (Easy probiotics for kids)
Feed bacteria (prebiotics): Prebiotics is a source of food for your gut’s healthy bacteria. It is a food which does not get fully digested in the body and reaches the large intestine (commonly known as GUT). The good bacteria in the large intestine eat this food and flourishes. Good bacteria multiply and win over the bad bacteria. (Recipe of probiotic food)
Hydration: If you keep yourself hydrated, it has positive effects on the mucosal lining of the intestine, as well as on the balance of good bacteria in the gut. Water intake is as important for the gut as food intake. You can also offer your kids coconut water, buttermilk and other healthy summer drinks to keep them hydrated.
Limit processed food and eat fiber rich food: High consumption of ultra-processed food and low consumption of fiber and vegetables results in an unhealthy gut. Most of the processed food contains a lot of sugar, artificial colors, flavours and unhealthy fats which have diverse and less healthy gut flora. On the other hand fiber is fuel for colon cells and helps to keep the digestive tract flowing. Always encourage your child to make healthy food choices. (What does junk food do to kids organs?)
Outdoor activity and exercise: Outdoor playing and exercise is essential for overall well being and stomach health. Regular exercise and physical activities encourages the intestine to speed up a lethargic digestive system and help to get waste moving through the body. Always encourage your kids for daily outdoor activity to maintain a healthy gut.
Best food for Digestion problem
Yogurt: Yogurt is one of the best sources of probiotics, which helps in strengthening digestive tract and promotes gut health. It is high in protein, calcium, vitamins and probiotics which can enhance the good bacteria in the gut. Yogurt is the best food for kids gut health.
Kefir: kefir is a combination of bacteria and yeast fermentation. The process of making is similar to yogurt, but the fermentation process in Kefir is for 24 hours. It has a tangy flavour and a consistency similar to a drinkable yogurt. It is a rich source of probiotics that can help maintain gut health, proper digestion and support the immune system. Kefir is one of the best foods for digestion problems.
Sprouted grains: The concentration of fibre increases in sprouted grains. Fiber is one of the most important components for maintaining gut health. Fiber nourishes the good bacteria in the gut and promotes elimination and detoxification of the colon. (What benefit does sprouting give?)
Garlic: garlic is a prebiotic, naturally high in inulin, a type of non- digestible carbohydrate that feeds the good bacteria in your gut and prevents disease promoting bacteria from growing at the same time. Pickled garlic is best for kids gut health. (How to fix tonsils in kids?)
Moong Dal/ Mung bean: Mung bean (Moong dal) is an outstanding prebiotic. It has been used in Ayurveda for over 1000 years to make medicine for digestion. Other than being a food for the bacteria in the Gut, it is the most powerful antioxidant amongst all lentils, and also loaded with many micro-nutrients. Mung beans are extremely high in Protein, which digests slowly and keeps the kids energetic and Fit. (Mung Bean sweet balls/ Laddoo that great for digestion and immunity)
Apple Cider Vinegar: ACV has protein, enzymes and bacteria themselves that make it best for gut health, this could prevent gas and bloating. It also has an antimicrobial substance which may help in killing bad bacteria in the gut. ACV enables growth of ‘beneficial bacteria in the body which help in digesting food and absorbing essential nutrients. Please check the label before giving it to kids. (How to make ACV jellies?)
Isabgol (psyllium husk): Isabgol is driven from the seeds of plantago ovate. It is considered to have probiotic potential, which supports the growth of beneficial bacteria and increases the production of short chain fatty acids, which has positive effects on colonic health. Psyllium is also rich in fiber contents and has the ability to absorb water that means it soaks up water in your gut and makes bowel movement easier. (Recipe of psyllium husk pizza)
Fermented food: people are using fermentation techniques from ages to boost food’s shelf life and to increase its nutritive values. It’s a process through which microorganisms like yeast and bacteria convert the carbohydrates in the food to acids, which act as a natural preservative and promotes the growth of good bacteria (probiotics). Some fermented foods are kimchi, made from fermented vegetables such as radish and cabbage, it’s a popular Korean dish. Miso is a Japanese seasoning, made from fermented soybeans. Sauerkraut is a traditional food of Europe and made from fermenting finely chopped cabbage. Traditional buttermilk, it is the leftover liquid from making butter and contains lots of probiotics. (Recipe of fermented sweet for kids)
Banana stem: banana stem is great for the digestive system, as it is 60% fiber, which helps in bowel movement and contributes to the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. It also helps in flushing out toxins from the body and helps to maintain proper gut health. Banana stem is extremely high in Vitamin B6, which keeps hemoglobin high, gives ample energy and helps kids fight weakness, fatigue and crankiness. (Recipe of banana stem Paratha or flat bread)
Kanji: kanji is a popular Indian fermented drink, which contains lots of gut friendly bacteria (probiotics) which aids in digestion and reduces bloating, gas and promotes a healthy gut. It has a tangy, spice and tart flavor. In India, it is used as a detox drink after festival binge eating, which helps in digestive issues. However there are many ways of making kanji, the most popular is carrot kanji. It is made by fermenting carrot along with salt, mustard seeds and asafetida (heeng). (Summer drinks for kids that are nutritious)
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