Gut health is a big focus of health right now. There are more articles and resources coming out every day, and for good reason. Kids gut health is essential for them to be happy, healthy and balanced. Here, I share the four reasons why it’s essential to support their gut health.
Watch the video or continue reading below to find out more about why kids gut health is essential for overall wellbeing.
4 Reasons To Support Kids Gut Health
Absorption of nutrients
The gut is how we absorb almost all of our nutrients. If the gut is healthy, our kids will absorb more nutrients from the food they eat.
This is particularly important these days, as the nutrient value of food kids eat is not as high. Kids are eating more processed foods that are lower in nutrients.
Soil levels are also lower in nutrients than previous generations. Nutrients enter plants via the soil, and enter animals via the plants they eat. So if soil is nutrient-poor, so is the food – even if it’s high-quality wholefoods. That’s why it’s so important to optimise your child’s absorption, so they get the most out of their food.
Kids who experience diarrhoea, loose or unformed bowel movements are at a higher risk of poor absorption. This is because the food is not in the gut long enough for full absorption to take place.
Ways to support kids gut health and absorbing nutrients include:
- Eating together as a family at the table, rather than in front of the TV or on phones
- Encourage them to slow down and take time to eat food
- Encourage them to properly chew their food
Elimination of waste
One important job for the gut is eliminating waste. But for waste to be eliminated, it needs to be passed out regularly. If we don’t eliminate toxins regularly, we will reabsorb it back into the bloodstream. This is a big concern with kids who don’t have a bowel movement every day.
Once it re-enters the bloodstream, the liver will have to detoxify it again, then shunt it back into the bowels. This can happen over and over in kids who are constipated. It creates extra work for the liver and uses up energy that could be used to support a healthy, happy body otherwise.
Ways to support kids gut health and eliminating waste include:
- Focusing the diet on plenty of fibre. Wholegrains, vegetables, salads and fruit are good sources of fibre that will help keep your child regular and feed the good bacteria in their gut.
- Encourage them to drink water. I teach my kids that if their poo is dry, cracked or hard to pass, they need to drink more water.
Kids gut health & the immune system
The gut is linked to many different systems in the body, but immunity is one of the main links. Healthy, strong immunity relies on good gut health.
70-80% of the immune system is located in the gut. This makes sense, as it is the main channel for bugs to get into the body. But if it is not strong, your child is more likely to pick up every infection that goes around.
Gut health also regulates the immune system in the case of allergies and intolerances. I like to think of the immune system as a see-saw. One arm protects against infections and other bad guys. The other arm stops us from attacking things that aren’t a problem, like our tissues, foods and environmental things such as pollen.
The pillar that holds the see-saw knows when to react to something and when not to. And one important part of that pillar is a healthy gut.
It is a constant balancing act, and it can take a while for the body to get the balance right. That’s why kids are more likely to have allergies, asthma and eczema. But a healthy gut will help them to find this balance.
Kids gut health & the gut-brain connection
This is a fascinating area, with research only just starting to delve into the connections. But we know that a healthy gut can support healthy neurological and mental health.
Think about when you feel stressed or anxious. Most people will feel it in their tummy as well as in their head. This is the gut-brain axis at work.
Many of our neurotransmitters, or brain chemicals, are produced in the gut by bacteria. So if the gut is healthy, we will produce more feel-good neurotransmitters like serotonin, GABA and dopamine.
But if the gut is out of balance, production will decline. Low levels of these chemicals are linked to problems like depression, anxiety, behavioural issues, learning difficulties and more.
Want to know the exact area of your kids health to focus on? Take the Natural Super Kids Quiz to find out