Over the past two years I have been fascinated and intrigued by the human microbiota. It has always been there, yet I never payed attention to it. Let alone knew that it plays such an incredible role in your overall health and vitality. (See my article Why Is Gut Health So Important ?)
The Research Is In
The more I research this topic the more I realize that there is SO much to learn. And there is still so much yet to be learned and discovered. Research on this topic is in its infancy. I am excited for the future breakthroughs by scientists in how the microbiota impacts our health.
What we do know is that 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 series of posts, I want to give you 8 simple steps you can use to help build your child’s gut bacteria.
1. Give Your Child A Probiotic Supplement Daily.
This one is the most important step you can take to help your child build a healthy immune system. It is imperative that children get a consistent inoculation of probiotics on a daily basis.
Although, I still believe that getting your probiotics is more beneficial through a food source such as fermented vegetables, organic yogurts, and Kefir (read more HERE) this can be a challenge. Children, oftentimes, aren’t used to the taste of fermented foods.
Take my son for instance. He happily ate his fermented veggies for quite some time without complaint. However, a few months ago I made changes to our usual sauerkraut recipe. I added in different veggies and used a celery brine for the first time. Due to the change in taste, after the first forkful, he stubbornly refused to eat any more..
Although, I would prefer him to take his fermented veggies, I quickly realized the need to find a good quality probiotic supplement. In a matter of weeks, after his refusal to eat his cultured vegetables, his immune system weakened. He contracted a terrible case of hand-foot-mouth virus. It was a horrible time for everyone in the family.
Thankfully, I found Garden of Life Probiotic for Kids – Dr. Formulated Organic Kids+ Supplement, 30 Chewable Tablet. This is the best probiotic, kids love them. There are many chewable probiotic supplements out there for kids. Yet, what really stood out to me about this was
a) this amazing probiotic was created by Neurologist Dr. Perlmutter and
b) all the ingredients are organic.
Dr. Perlmutter is a board-certified neurologist, brain-health expert, and is an expert in the human microbiome. He is the author of both Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar–Your Brain’s Silent Killers and Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain–for Life, both which I would highly recommend reading. To find a probiotic supplement created by his company is simply incredible. I know he is putting the vital strains in his products.
Everything is organic. The fruit flavors are made with certified USDA Organic berries. Meaning, there is a whole food Vitamin C, Vitamin D and prebiotic fiber. Plus, there are no added sweeteners! These are the best probiotics for kids My son loves them and eats them with his breakfast every morning. The verdict? I would highly recommend this product.
2. Incorporate Fermented Foods at an Early Age
As mentioned earlier, fermented foods are incredibly good for your gut health and digestion. (2) They are filled with living probiotics and I believe are far superior to probiotic supplements. (See article) Being that, the SAD (Standard American Diet) does not include fermented foods at all you need to make a conscious effort to incorporate them. A variety of cultured foods in one or more of your daily meals is necessary.
This can easily be done by serving a 1/4 to a 1/2 cup of lacto-fermented sauerkraut or other lacto-fermented vegetables along with lunch or dinner. Organic yogurt is a great option for an easy breakfast. You can even top it with gluten-free granola. If you or your child doesn’t tolerate dairy I would recommend trying goat or sheep milk yogurt. It is much easier to digest than cows milk and often doesn’t cause the problems common with cow dairy.
Kombucha is another great option for a fun fizzy drink that is full of living probiotics! It’s a great alternative to soda and other unhealthy soft drinks. It might sound crazy but kids often love this Russian Tea! There are many fun fruit flavors available at Whole Foods and most grocery stores. When I share mine my son will sip it down like there’s no tomorrow. It’s so cute!
How To Build Your Child’s Gut Flora: My Top 8 Tips will be continued in Part 2 (coming soon)!