In this series I am discussing the human microbiota and the incredible role it plays in your overall health and vitality. (See my article Why Is Gut Health So Important ?) Our body contains over 100 trillion microbial cells and a similar number of viruses. We are mostly comprised of bacterial cells. (1) They impact how we look, think, feel, and the condition of our immune system. The key is that we want the beneficial bacteria to rule and outnumber the pathogenic bacteria. This keeps our immune system strong and enables our body to be healthy and fight disease.
Therefore, it is of utmost importance that we give our children the building blocks to help foster and build healthy gut flora. This can be accomplished through a healthy diet and lifestyle.As parents, it is our responsibility to teach our children how to eat in a way that fuels their body for a healthy life and successful future. In this post, I want to give you tip 5 to help build your child’s gut bacteria.
5. Substitute Processed foods and Snacks for Healthier Options
This is an important step. Kids (and adults :)) are going to snack. Although I don’t recommend snacking regular (such as, on a daily basis) there is a time and place where snacks are needed and necessary.
That being said, when I think of snacks my mind still runs to crappy processed foods that I would ‘snack’ on as a kid such as chips, pretzels, and cookies. In general terms, the problem with those snacks are they usually contain gluten (very irritating to your gut lining), rancid oils (oils that are oxidized and very unhealthy for your body’s cells such as canola and soybean oil) and ungodly amounts of refined sugar.
Diet makes a huge impact on the health of your child’s microbiota. (2) (3) (4) Ideally, you want your snacks to be healthy whole foods (organic when it matters, See EWG Dirty Dozen List ). But sometimes you just get the hankering for something sweet and salty that you can get prepackaged. In that case, I always try to go for at least gluten and dairy free (as we don’t tolerate dairy very well), Non-GMO ingredients and preferably minimal rancid oils. However, you have to figure out what’s important to you. Below I have a list of my top favorite snacks.
1.Fresh Veggies. Surprisingly, kids can actually enjoy snacking on veggies. Certain veggies are easier and more fun to eat when cut up into sticks (such as carrot sticks, cucumber sticks, bell pepper sticks). Cherry tomatoes are also usually a hit with kids!
2. Hard Boiled Eggs. My son could eat hard boiled eggs all day. Seriously. And why not? They are a great source of protein and healthy fat, especially if topped with a little dollop of mayo, another of my son’s favorite foods. (See my easy mayo recipe )
3. Goji Berries . These tasty little berries are a true superfood. They are rich in essential amino acids, Vitamins A and D and are a rich source of magnesium, manganese, potassium, and iron and many other minerals. They blow other berries out of the water in terms of nutritional density. My son LOVES them to death.
4. Purely Elizabeth Ancient Grain Granola. This is our most favorite gluten free, nut free granola EVER! In my opinion, all other granola brands pale in comparison. This makes a great snack! I honestly love all the ingredients. No refined sugar, no unhealthy fats. They even use gluten free ORGANIC oats which hardly ever see in a product. Enough said. Just buy it.
5. Fresh Fruit. Not earth shattering but hey, fruit always makes for a good snack. I always grab a banana when in a pinch for my son if I he will need a snack to carry him over ’till dinner.
6. Jackson’s Honest Sea Salt Potato Chips. I thought I would never again be able to enjoy classic potato chips….UNTIL….we came across this jewel of a product! This family owned company makes the healthiest, tastiest potato chips you will ever come across. They are made with non-GMO potatoes, coconut oil and just a touch of sea salt. That’s it! No rancid oils or GMO spuds in these potato chips! These are definitely worth trying. We love the Purple Heirloom Potato Chips and:
7. Gluten Free Mini Chocolate Chip Cookie. When you want a quick treat when on the go, these cookies are delicious! Plus, they are Gluten free, Dairy Free, Egg free, Soy free, and Nut free! Yes, they are safe, safe, SAFE for most all food allergens. You and your kids will love them!
Thank you so much for reading this post! Let me know if you try any of these snack recommendations and what you think of them!
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3. De Filippo, Carlotta, et al. “Impact of diet in shaping gut microbiota revealed by a comparative study in children from Europe and rural Africa.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 107.33 (2010): 14691-14696.