The struggle is real. We’ve heard it, said it, and this is so true when it comes to kids and food. Today there is so much focus on gut health for kids as well as adults because research has shown that a healthy gut supports both mental and physical health.
We all know that kids and certain foods don’t always get along, but a variety of fruits and vegetables is critical for gut health. About 70% of the immune system is located in the gut, and brain power, and mood are impacted by the gut. What does that mean? It is critical to create a positive path to gut health because that will support overall health.
There are ways that can help support gut health, and one way is easy and fun – play outside and in the dirt! The combination of exercise with some dirt help the immune system and gut health.
Regarding foods, a variety of fruits and vegetables, getting an adequate amount of fiber, and eating balanced meals is important – www.nutrition.gov is a great resource for kid’s nutrition.
Easy ways to get on the path to gut health include: offering raw and cooked vegetables, chopping up fruits like apples and oranges and having easy to eat fruits and vegetables for snacking and for meals.
Encourage kids to sit down to eat meals. Eating fast foods, processed foods, and meals on the run is so common these days, because life is so busy. Shifting to whole foods and taking the time to eat a proper meal will make all the difference.
As you shift to whole foods, it will also be beneficial to introduce fermented foods, like yogurt with active cultures, kefir, and even sauerkraut. These foods contain good bacteria for a healthy gut. Some kids may reject fermented foods at first, so ask your doctor about adding probiotic supplements for children.
The Mayo Clinic has listed some fun activities to help you and your children on the journey to good gut health through nutrition. Also, there are many cookbooks designed for kid-friendly meals, as well as many blogs for busy moms to be able to plan meals and help with time management for this busy time in life.
Finally, it is important to have regularity. This is not a common subject, but an important one.
How many times a day is considered regular? Ideally 1-3 times per day, and each time should be without straining. Constipation is not going every day, and going more than 4 times a day is probably too often.
If there is persistent diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain and if there is a bloody stool, please consult your physician.
While the struggle is real, a healthy gut promotes a healthy life, and success is within reach!