6 Keys to Keep Your Child’s Gut Healthy
The human digestive system is a remarkable organ that helps us stay healthy from the day we are born. It absorbs nutrients, provides body wide immune health and it’s so important there is a growing list of pediatric drinks and supplements designed to enhance pediatric digestive health. Read on to learn 6 things that you should know about your child’s gut and how to make sure it stays healthy.
We get our first dose of probiotics from our mothers when we are born. Research shows that while in the birth canal babies receive an important dose of gut bacteria - particularly lactobacillus, which helps prevent colic. Lactobacillus helps your child digest the lactose in breast milk, plus the dose of gut bacteria also helps give your baby a robust immune response to help it defend against infection.
Constipation is a common digestive issue found in young children that can be uncomfortable, 25% of pediatric GI referrals are for constipation, plus 3% of pediatric office visits. Consistent probiotics supplementation can help relieve constipation. Parents can also try fruit juices, like prune juice, or adding more fiber to your child’s diet with mashed fruits and vegetables. Fiber is important to help probiotic bacteria thrive, which relieves constipation. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and recurrent abdominal pain can also affect 10-20% of children. Although the causes remain unclear, research has shown that probiotics can also help relieve IBS symptoms.
Babies born through Caesarian delivery miss out on their first does of probiotic bacteria. C-Section babies can get probiotics boost by breast feeding or by using formula supplemented with probiotics and prebiotics.
We all know that diet, particularly in childhood is very important. As your child transition from formula to solid food, adding prebiotic fiber to their diet along with other nutritional requirements is also important. Fiber is the components found the fruits, vegetables and grains, which human’s cannot digest, but are an essential food source for our gut bacteria. By feeding our gut bacteria we are actually helping ourselves stay healthy and strong.
During cold & flu season antibiotics are wonder drugs - but they can also adversely affect our gut microbiome (community of bacteria). Antibiotics are designed to kill bacteria and will kill our “good” and “bad” gut bacteria indiscriminately. This can lead to prolonged recovery from infection and other digestive issues. If antibiotics cannot be avoided then consider giving your child a probiotic during the antibiotic course. Taking a probiotic while on and after antibiotic treatment has been shown that recovery time from infections is faster.
A long term study, which took place over 40 years in New Zealand, called the Dunedin study, showed that children today have a higher incidence of allergies. In the study researchers noticed a gradually increasing percentage of children experience childhood allergies – believed to be due to a decreasing exposure to bacteria and infections found out doors. Over a long period researchers found that higher exposure to viruses and bacteria correlated with better health outcomes and better overall health in adulthood.
Our gut is one of our most important defenses against external pathogens. By following these tips your child’s digestive system should be healthier and better able to protect them from many common health problems.