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Healthy digestion and gut health is an important part of your child’s development and digestive system from a young age. A key to developing a strong immune system and gut health means maintaining a balanced microbiome, which is responsible for support good bacterial growth in the gut and overall body function. For this reason, strengthening your gut’s bacteria system is vital for life-long health and the prevention of many illnesses and chronic conditions.
The Formation of Microbiome
From a young age, before the age of five, the intricate and complex system of bacteria, known as the microbiome begins to form. It is responsible for protecting and strengthening the body’s immunity, as well as physical and mental health. The microbiome supports up to 70% of the body’s immune system, making it a strong barrier against infectious diseases, harmful bacteria, and viruses.
Prevention of Disease and Chronic Conditions
A strong and healthy gut is the key to preventing conditions that developed due to a low or weak immune system, such as eczema, asthma, Celiac disease, and food sensitivities. Often, these conditions and their effects on the body become visible later in childhood and adulthood. While there are many treatments available to treat and address various conditions associated with weak gut health, prevention in early childhood is the best option.
Diet for Gut Health
A balanced, healthy diet rich in probiotics and natural foods is key to a strong gut. When a healthy diet begins in the early years of childhood, this sets a good foundation for preventing serious illness and conditions. There are many chewable probiotics for kids are available which can be added to a regular diet to improve gut health. A strong gut provides stronger energy and a balanced mood throughout childhood. Diet provides a major boost to your gut, and the foods you choose for your child are important, once they begin eating solid foods.
Breastfeeding has been shown to strengthen the immune system early, producing antibodies that prevent disease and strengthen the gut. Babies who are breastfed for a minimum of six months have fewer allergies and develop better immunity in response to their environment. A healthy gut also contributes to strong cognitive function and brain health. These positive effects continue with making good food choices.
Fermented Foods: The Best Foods for a Healthy Gut
As part of a balanced diet, adding fermented foods such as yogurt, kimchi, and pickled foods can boost your child’s gut health and maintain the microbiome’s balance. These foods are rich in nutrients and should be included in their most natural form, to avoid unnecessary additives and high levels of sugar. For example, yogurt is an excellent source of probiotics, though often the flavored options are high in sugar and artificial colors, which should be avoided.
Yogurt and Kefir
One of the most popular foods for kids, yogurt, and more recently, kefir, are excellent choices for a drink or snack for kids. The probiotic content aids in protecting the digestive tract and supports the balance of bacteria in the gut. Natural and unflavored versions of both kefir and yogurt are recommended, to avoid sugar and artificial ingredients. These can be topped with fresh berries, granola, or light natural syrup for flavor.
Miso and Tempeh
Popular as a soup base and for sauces and marinades, miso paste is high in vitamin B12, minerals, and is mild in flavor, making it a popular choice for kids. Tempeh is also a great choice for stir-fries and roast dinners. Both miso and tempeh are fermented versions of soybean and contain a high level of vitamins and minerals to support a healthy diet.
Pickled and Fermented Vegetables
Kimchi and sauerkraut are among the best choices for getting a high dose of vitamins and probiotics for a strong gut. Sauerkraut is a traditional fermented cabbage dish in Europe, while kimchi is popular in Asia. Pickles and other pickled vegetables such as beets and radishes are also excellent to include in your child’s diet.
Food Choices for a Healthy Diet and Strong Gut
One of the most important aspects of establishing good gut health begins in early childhood with healthy food choices. Fermented foods, naturally sourced ingredients, and avoiding items with high sugar and processed ingredients are key to maintaining overall health and a strong digestive system. The effects of eating a balanced diet continue for a lifetime.
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