by Deborah Morgan
From articles in the huff post to yogurt commercials on television gut health seems to be everywhere these days. The gut is getting a lot of attention and with good reason. Scientific research emerges everyday that further establishes a clear link between what is happening in the gut and chronic health conditions of all kinds.
With the staggering increase in kids diagnosed with long term chronic illnesses, it is something all parents should be paying attention to. So, what is it about the gut that makes it so important?
The cells of the gut do some pretty essential work like the proper break down and absorption of nutrients from the food kids eat. These cells also form a protective and selective barrier that protects the body from invaders and eliminates them with the next bowel movement.
On top of that, seventy percent of the immune system is located around the gut.
Living inside the gut are the tiny microbial critters that make up the microbiome. These bacterial creatures are responsible for an astounding number of functions in the body. When they are in balance and functioning well things tick along as they should. When they get out of balance health problems arise.
These microbes keep intestinal cells healthy and happy and doing their jobs as they should. They also help with detoxification in the intestine and train and modulate the immune system. Microbes in the gut help produce over 30 neurotransmitters that can affect mood and sleep. They can even communicate directly with the nervous system.
It is pretty clear just from this basic and brief glimpse into the gut that it is vital to a child’s good health.
So, what can a parent do to make sure they are supporting gut health for their child?
There are 3 simple but essential steps that any parent can take to support the health of the intestinal cells and balance the microflora.
Step 1: Feed kids fermented foods.
This may seem hard at first glance but there are so many tasty options that it need not seem intimidating.
Fermented pickles are a favorite for many kids as are fermented carrots. Dairy or water based kefir and kombucha drinks are flavourful options for kids. Fermented ketchup is a great one!
With all the variety and choices there is no reason not to include these foods in everyday. Using a variety of fermented foods is also important as different foods have different bacterial diversity and the wider the diversity of beneficial bacteria the better for gut health.
Probiotic supplements being only a restricted number of strains do not hold a candle to eating fermented foods daily.
Step 2: Incorporate the specific nutrients that support the intestinal cells.
This is super easy to do with a good old fashioned home cooked meat stock. Think grandma’s homemade chicken soup.
Meat stocks is made from meaty joints, skin and even feet and contains certain amino acids and collagen that help support the intestinal cells. This is not to be confused with bone broth.
Bone broth will contain some of the collagen but not as much of the amino acids, as it is made from bones stripped of most of the meat and cooked for much longer. Bone broth is certainly healthy and contains wonderful minerals but meat stock is the preferred food for feeding the intestinal cells what they love.
Having a homemade soup a few times a week is a great way to fuel up on these gut supportive nutrients. Make a plain chicken stock with no aromatics like onion or garlic and use that stock to make hot chocolate and gummy treats.
Homemade “Jello” made with grass fed gelatin contains these gut healing nutrients too! Lots of options for getting gut supporting nutrients in every day.
Step 3: Cut down on or eliminate processed foods from your family diet.
The foods most kids are eating day in and day out are simply not supportive of gut health or overall health in general. They are lacking the nutrient density that is needed for health to thrive.
From a gut health perspective, processed foods throw off the proper balance of gut microbes as they are the preferred energy source for the opportunistic and pathogenic bacteria. The more they get of this easy fuel source the more they proliferate and crowd out the beneficial species, leading to health issues.
Focus on whole foods that do not come in a package and crowd out the processed foods, rather than the good gut bugs.
These are 3 simple little steps that can have a tremendous impact on the health of the gut and the child. Improved digestion, better detoxification, improved immune function and brain health are all possible when the gut is given the attention and support it needs.
It’s not hard. Dive into the 3 steps to get on the path to healthier guts and healthier, thriving kids.
Deborah Morgan is heading a revolution for children’s health. Inspired by success in helping her own son with an autoimmune condition Deborah founded Kids Health Revolution. She has become a passionate champion for dietary, lifestyle and environmental changes that have a profound impact on improving children’s health and wellbeing. Deborah inspires parents to embrace the power they hold in their own hands and helps guide them in taking real life actions that make a difference for their children. You can find recipes, articles, podcasts and much more on her website www.kidshealthrevolution.com