Almost all of the nutrients that we get from foods are absorbed by our gut. Kid’s gut health is vital for their overall well being as it influences many aspects of health. The gut microbiome of a child is built before birth itself. This healthy microbiome not only improves the gut health but also helps to fight against various infections by improving the immunity. Do you know how gut health influences immunity? What is the role of gut microbes and its link with immunity? Let’s unravel the connection between gut health and immunity in this article.
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Gut microbes and its role
There are trillions of microorganisms or bacteria living in the human body. Although the majority of them are beneficial, when unbalanced, they could be dangerous. Gut microbiota is a broad and diverse population of microbes which has a significant impact on human health. Humans’ ability to absorb nutrients depends on the condition of their gut bacteria. Beneficial bacteria residing in our gut are contributing to digestion and overall gut health. In fact, complex compounds in meats and vegetables can be broken down by the body with the assistance of gut microbes. Our body is unable to break down plant cellulose without the help of gut microorganisms. The metabolic processes of gut microorganisms may potentially affect food cravings and satiety.
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linked between gut health and immune system
The capacity of the body to fight against pathogenic infections is referred to as immunity. According to certain studies, the body may encounter microbes before birth. This first encounter of microbes can give rise to acquired immunity which is responsible for immunological memory. After coming into contact with same germs, our immune system picks up the better way to fight with them. This enables a faster and more efficient reaction against pathogens. 70-80% of immune cells are located in the gut. Beneficial gut microbes produce bacteriocins which are antimicrobial compounds capable of eradicating pathogenic bacteria. Additionally, they nourish the lining of the stomach and regulate immunological responses. The growth of the microbiota can be affected by interruptions in these early encounters.
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Tips to improve gut health and immunity
1.EAT FERMENTED FOODS (PROBIOTICS):
Probiotics are live bacteria (naturally occurring in food) that are good for you, your digestion and for your GUT HEALTH! 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. Other fermented foods such as sauerkraut or kimchi also contains probiotics. Probiotics the best food for healthy gut.
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2.FEED BACTERIA (PREBIOTICS):
Prebiotics is a source of food for your gut’s healthy bacteria or food maintaining gut health. It does not get fully digested in the body and reaches the large intestine. The good bacteria in the large intestine eat this food and flourishes. Good bacteria multiply and win over the bad bacteria.
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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 gut health as food intake. You can also offer your kids coconut water, buttermilk and other healthy summer drinks to keep them hydrated.
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4.LIMIT PROCESSED FOOD AND EAT FIBER RICH FOOD:
High consumption of ultra-processed food and low consumption of fiber and vegetables can affect gut health. 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.
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5.OUTDOOR ACTIVITY AND EXERCISE:
Outdoor playing and exercise is essential for overall well being and gut 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.
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Foods to improve the gut health
A diverse diet, limiting the intake of processed and refined foods, and getting enough dietary fibre are all aspects of a healthy lifestyle which can support gut health and improve immunity. Here are some foods to improve the gut health and immunity:
1.PARTIALLY HYDROLYZED GUAR GUM:
Guar gum is a fiber made from guar bean or Indian cluster bean. It is used as a laxative that normalizes the moisture content of the stool, absorbing excess liquid in diarrhea, and softening the stool in constipation. Undoubtedly, it is one of the best gut-healthy foods. While partially hydrolyzed guar gum is derived from guar gum by the process of enzymatic hydrolysis. PHGG is a water soluble dietary fiber used to regulate gut function. According to the study conducted by NIH, intake of PHGG improves human stool form by regulating intestinal microbiota. It has also been useful in treating Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms in both adults and kids.
Benefits of Guar gum
- Treating diarrhea/ constipation and IBS symptoms
- Lowering cholesterol
- Manages high blood pressure
- Control diabetes
- Weight loss
- Enhance Mineral absorption
2. Fructooligosaccharides (FOS):
Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) are composed of short fructose chains. They are a type of carbohydrate called oligosaccharides. FOS occurs naturally in many plants. They are prebiotic fibers that support the growth of healthy bacteria in the digestive tract. FOS is also a good source of soluble, dietary fiber. It can reduce, or eliminate constipation.
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3. CITRIC ACID:
Citric acid is the weak organic acid present in the greatest amount in citrus fruits. We all have seen citric acid appear on the label of many products but don’t know exactly what citric acid is for our health. However the primary reason for including this in any packaged foods is for its tangy flavor. But citric acid has many health benefits also:
- Citric acid helps to convert food into energy.
- It enhances calcium, phosphorus and Magnesium absorption through the gut.
- This also prevents calcium crystals or kidney stones from forming.
4. ORANGE EXTRACT:
Oranges are the food to boost immunity. They are not only nutritious and rich in Vitamin-C but also loved by kids. Just one orange can meet 100% vitamin C requirements for the kid’s daily nutrition. The pith (white after between peel and fruit) of orange has 30% fiber of the fruit and this particular fiber (called pectin) is good for the kid’s gut which builds immunity and supports digestion.
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Stevia is a kind of herb and one of the Alternatives of sugar made up of the leaves of a stevia plant. It’s extremely sweet and safe in its natural form. It has no carbohydrates, calories or any artificial ingredients and a very low glycemic index, so does not spike your blood sugar level. Stevia in powder or liquid form is easily available.
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The papaya fruit contains two enzymes, papain and chymopapain. They can help with digestion, reduce inflammation and also improve gut health. Zeaxanthin, an antioxidant found in papaya, filters out harmful blue light rays. Papaya is also high in fiber and water content, both of which help to prevent constipation and promote regularity and a healthy digestive tract. Also, it a good source of folate, vitamin A, magnesium, copper, B vitamins, alpha and beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, vitamin E, calcium, potassium, vitamin K, and lycopene, and pantothenic acid.
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Lemons are rich in Vitamin C and have a potential to reduce gut inflammation and boost the immune system. Lemons are high in a fiber called pectin, which is a prebiotic that assists good gut health by feeding healthy gut bacteria.
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