The Microbiome: A Key to your Child’s Health

We recently discussed why a multivitamin is a smart idea to address nutritional gaps in your child’s diet, but what role might their picky eating habits play on the health of their gut? And why is that important? Let’s take a look, first, at the importance of a healthy microbiome and how it pertains to your child’s health!

The research into the role of the vast and complex human microbiome continues to steam ahead, and the findings shed even greater light onto our dependence on these friendly bacteria.

You are probably aware of probiotics’ role in digestive health. As the digestive tract is where probiotics generally take up residence, it’s no surprise that their presence, or lack thereof, is first felt in the gut.

Our digestive tracts are home to over 5000 different species of beneficial bacteria, all of whom perform specific functions within our body (LiveScience). In addition to aiding in the digestion of food and nutrient assimilation, they are our biggest defense against illness – over 70% of our immune response resides within our gut!

Beyond this role, however, science continues to link the health of our microbiome to things such as allergies, and even lend credence to the phrase “gut reaction,” demonstrating a link between the health of our friendly crusaders and the brain! It begins to make sense, then, why these helpful bacteria, so important to our health and well-being, are called what they are – probiotic – literally meaning for life!

Unfortunately, picky eating, and an emphasis on refined foods does not for a strong microbiome make. The Standard American Diet lacks diversity and an emphasis on fresh, whole, and fermented foods that nourish and grow our probiotic army. In addition, our frequent antibiotic use decimates these good guys, and lowers our defenses further.

For this reason, it’s important to pay attention to the health of our invisible allies. There is, of course, good news at the end of all of this. There are great ways to get probiotics back into your children’s diets, and of course, into their gut where they belong!

One thing to consider are foods that are rich in probiotics. Traditionally fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, yogurt, and pickles are great options to start including in you and your child’s daily diet. Just be sure they are the real deal – look for the words ‘fermented’ or ‘traditionally fermented’ on the label, and make sure they come from the refrigerated section, as probiotics are living, and many strainsrequire cooler temperatures to stay alive (they can actually be damaged by heat!) There are, of course, less-familiar options to look into as well – foods such as kimchi, kefir, and kombucha are delicious and healthy ways to get probiotics into your child’s diet, not to mention helping them create healthy eating habits for years to come.

In addition to fortifying the diet with these good-for-the-gut foods, a probiotic supplement is another convenient choice. Seek formulations that deliver a wide-range of flora strains rather than just one or two, and one that requires refrigeration, to ensure you are getting viable, living strains.

For more in children’s health, check out our tips for choosing a multivitamin, and stay tuned for the debut of some exciting new products – formulated just for kids – in the coming months!

This article has been provided to you by Mega food blog.