Most people are aware of the types of things that we need to do daily to remain healthy. Eating right, exercising and good sleep, are just a few of the things that come to mind. But what if there was another important level to wellness that very few think about? There is a tiny yet expansive world inside each person populated by bacteria that have a powerful impact on human health, vitality, and longevity. These tiny organisms help us to live by making processes inside our bodies possible, and they are often divided into two main groups.
These bacteria are generally helpful because they are responsible for many of the processing functions. During gestation babies receive them from their mother. Some of these bacteria such as Lactobacillus and Acidophilus are related to breaking down sugars into lactic acid. Lactic acid is a substance made in the body that is helpful in the fight against harmful strains of bacteria. There is also evidence that suggests that there are disorders that can be caused by a lack of these bacterial populations.
Modern advances in medicine have brought us antibiotics, but studies have shown that antibiotics tend to have a harmful effect on the good or helpful populations of gut flora. So it might be necessary to supplement the good bacteria by taking alternate sources of Lactobacillus.
What can you do to combat these losses when taking antibiotics? Many of these helpful strains can be found in foods such as yogurt, kefir and other fermented food types. There are also a number of probiotic supplements on the market. For babies and toddlers there are drops available and chewables for older children.
Scientists now believe that over three quarters of our immune system is kept in our intestinal tract, with over 500 species of bacteria in the mix. With such a large population of bacteria living in us, it should be of little surprise that we depend on them so heavily for the various functions they serve on a daily basis. Many Bifido bacteria reside within the colon and large intestine. These bacteria play a heavy role in controlling elimination, aiding in digestion and even have the ability to repair damage from carcinogenic sources in the body.
Here are some ways you can improve your child’s gut health:
Reduce Processed Foods
Processed foods contain sugar and very little fibre. Excessive sugar can cause your child’s gut health to be compromised. And as we know, adequate fibre plays a major role in digestive health.
Skip the Hand Sanitiser
Let’s rather teach our children to wash their hands. Encourage children to play in the mud and get dirty. This can help build up their immune system so that they can naturally fight off any germs that come their way.
Anti-bacterial soaps and hand sanitisers kill not only the bad bacteria, but also the good bacteria that the body needs. Instead of protecting our children, we’re actually weakening their immune systems by using anti-bacterial products.
Avoid Overuse of Anitbiotics
When your child is ill it’s natural to visit the doctor and see if they might need medication. But overuse of antibiotics can kill your child’s good gut flora.
Speak to your doctor about your child’s symptoms and ask if antibiotics are really necessary. There may be other options available if you ask.
Add These Foods
Some Lexi’s favourite probiotic rich foods are:
KefirSourdough breadFermented picklesKimchiSauerkrautMisoCoconut milk yoghurt
I’ve left yoghurt off the list. While yoghurt is a wonderful source for probiotics, most parents give their children sweetened yoghurt. This is counter productive! You’d be surprised how quickly children learn to love plain, full fat yoghurt. You can start by adding a little raw honey and then adding less each time.