This is another subject that fascinates me - more and more research has shown the extremely important role that our guts play in keeping us healthy and happy. Research shows there's a profound dynamic interaction between your gut, your brain, and your immune system, starting from birth with the development of gut microbiota. According to Gut Microbiota Worldwatch , the digestive tract of a new-born is rapidly colonized with micro-organisms from the mother and the surrounding environment.
Where and why does it all begins?
Let's start with a mini biology lesson: Trillions of bacteria already live in your child's (and your own) gastrointestinal system, many of which are considered to be good because they help keep him healthy. They've been there since birth, when your baby's GI tract became colonized with good, bad, and benign bacteria (known as flora) as he passed through the birth canal and picked up some of your microbes.
If you nurse, you help your baby build up more good bacteria, because breast milk contains substances known as prebiotics that promote the growth of healthy bugs. Prebiotics are also found in high-fibre foods like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Once your child weans and starts on solid foods, his gut microflora will change, and then remain pretty much constant throughout his or her lifetime.
Why is it so important to have healthy guts?
It helps the body to digest certain foods that the stomach and small intestine have not been able to digest.
It helps with the production of some vitamins (B and K).
It helps us combat aggressions from other microorganisms, maintaining the wholeness of the intestinal mucosa.
It plays an important role in the immune system, performing a barrier effect.
What can disrupt the gut flora?
Antibiotics, for instance, can kill both bad and good bacteria in your child's gut flora. "About 20 to 30 percent of kids develop diarrhoea when they take antibiotics," says Daniel Merenstein, M.D., director of research in the department of family medicine at Georgetown University Medical Center, in Washington, D.C. Various diseases, too, can disturb this otherwise fixed amount of microflora.Poor diet; sugary and processed foods, lack of fruits and vegetables.
How to help your little ones maintain healthy guts and trust their guts?
Always start with food. Teaching our children, the importance of eating wholesome, unprocessed, unrefined food is crucial to help them develop healthy eating habits. Keep to a strict minimum sugary, fizzy drinks, processed, salty foods. Increase foods that are gut friendly, vegetables, good oils, good proteins (fish, lean meat), wholegrains, fruits, fermented foods and drinks (Kefir…).
Science is only confirming what naturopaths and nutritionist have known for years, that good physical and mental health start primarily in your guts. So look after your children’s gut flora and yours to live a healthier and happier life.