Our Senior Naturopath and gut guru (and former paediatric nurse)—Denise Hales—shows us 5 easy ways to support a healthy gut in our kids, and keep those coughs and colds away with a strong immune system.
A healthy gut means a healthy immune system
There are plenty of reasons to help keep your child’s gut in good shape, not just for digestive balance but also immune function as the gut is home to up to 80% of the immune system.
If your child’s tummy is feeling sick, they will be feeling miserable all over.
So what can you do to promote a healthy intestinal environment to prevent infection?
“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”Hippocrates
#1 Eat fermented foods
Fermented foods love your guts!
Foods that are fermented have been naturally preserved by bacteria, making them beneficial for our “microbiome” (which are the trillions of bacteria living in the gut).
The microbiome plays an important role in our physical health by boosting immunity and maintaining our mental health.
So which fermented foods should our kids be eating?
- Yoghurt – dairy or coconut (sugar free)
- Kefir – dairy or coconut (sugar free). Add into smoothies or pancakes, or home-made dips. Find a homemade kefir recipe here.
- Sauerkraut – it’s made when bacteria breaks down the natural sugar in cabbage. So many varieties available in health shops now (or cheap and easy to make). Add 1 teaspoon to every meal. Find a great recipe here.
- Fermented vegetable sticks – Kids love ’em. (Find an easy recipe here.)
#2 Increase high-fibre foods
Good bacteria thrive on dietary fibre (a prebiotic); the complex carbohydrates found in plants.
Plus, eating a high-fibre diet will also help keep occasional childhood constipation at bay.
Feed your children plenty of fruits, vegetables (5+ servings per day), wholegrains, nuts, and legumes to keep the fibre levels in their gut topped up.
#3 Drink more water
No more juices, sports drinks, flavoured milks, and soft drinks. These are all highly processed and FULL of sugar.
You’re also keeping your dentist very busy, and if nothing else that hurts your hip pocket.
How much sugar is in popular drinks?
Look at these sobering figures.
- Orange Juice: 6 teaspoons of sugar of in 250 ml (100% orange juice)
- Powerade: 4 teaspoons of sugar in 200 ml
- Flavoured milks: 7 teaspoons of sugar in 250 ml
- Coca Cola: 1 can of Coke has 9.5 teaspoons of sugar
What are the benefits of water?
Water supports efficient digestion, liver detoxification, and helps our intestines eliminate food.
If you’ve tried unsuccessfully to convince your child to drink water, try to make it more appealing by adding sliced oranges, lemons, or strawberries to a jug of water.
#4 Introduce a good probiotic
Not all probiotics are created equal. We have access to the very best practitioner-only probiotics, so come in for a consult anytime and we’ll recommend the right one for you.
Benefits of probiotics
They may help to:
- Support the body’s natural defences and maintain immune-system function
- Reduce the number of days absent from daycare and school due to colds
- Reduce the frequency and duration of cold symptoms
#5 Address lifestyle factors
What’s lifestyle got to do with the health of your kid’s immune system? Quite a lot it would appear.
Get sufficient sleep
Sleep deprivation affects your immune system. Make sure your child gets enough sleep.
For example, 1-3 year old children need 12-14 hours of sleep per day.
Get outdoors to play
Outdoor play helps the immune system to work at its best. So do provide at least an hour of active play per day.
Exercise outside every day, rain or shine. Schools in Finland send the kids outdoors for recess even in the depths of winter, because they find that the children get sick less often.
Avoid too much disinfection, and try not to use antibacterial soaps and cleaners.
Let you child play in dirt and play with animals. An animal will not only give lots of love, but a dog’s kiss comes with a big dose of bugs that will increase your child’s immune system.
Contact Denise for more info
To discuss anything I’ve talked about here, you can book online anytime for a consult with me in Newstead, Brisbane. I’d love to see you. Book here.