One of the most important things you can do for your kids is setting them up for life by providing a proper digestive system foundation. The microbiome is the collection of bacteria that lives on and around the human body. There are at least as many bacteria in the gut as there are cells in the body. Those bacteria are essential because they set the body’s immune system, especially when babies are first exposed to the bacteria. Some of the ways to maintain gut health in your children include:
1. Having a normal, healthy vaginal birth
The children born more naturally tend more gut bacteria than the ones born via C-section. However, the way babies are born and its influence on their later health is uncertain: One of the reasons may be that they are exposed to bacteria that colonize their gut at birth. Babies born vaginally pick up helpful gut bacteria from their mothers during the birth process. Conversely, babies born through cesarean pick up organisms from the environment: Meaning that they are much more likely to carry bacteria that are potentially harmful and resistant to antibiotics.
Before birth, the fetus is enclosed by amniotic membranes that physically separate it from the uterus cavity and preserve a sterile environment. The first exposure to bacteria starts with rupture of membranes that, in most cases, happens a few hours or even less before birth. It releases the amniotic fluid that surrounds the fetus and facilitates access to bacteria that ascend from the vaginal mucosa into the uterus cavity.
2. Breastfeed your baby
Following delivery, the close contact between mother and child facilitates the bacteria colonizing maternal skin. When the neonate starts suckling at the mother’s breasts, their interaction with bacteria intensifies. Regular breastfeeding maintains the transfer and ingestion of resident bacteria. Bacteria found in breast milk such as Streptococci and Staphylococci represent known constituents of the skin microbiota. Breast-feeding undoubtedly exerts a significant influence on the establishment of the enteric microbiota, but this may not primarily be due to its role as a source for new bacterial species but rather its vital prebiotic and nutritional influence.
3. Diet is key
Diet may be considered as the primary factor influencing gut microbiota composition and functionality. Fermented foods are rich in live bacteria that function as natural probiotics—a food-based way to replenish your microbiome’s healthy bacteria. A depleted microbiome leads to weight gain, whereas fermented foods help keep our microbiome balanced and healthy. When your kids stop eating them, their microbiome takes a hit—and weight gain results. Natural probiotics, which replenish your microbiome with more beneficial bacteria, include:
• Fermented vegetables, such as kimchee and sauerkraut
• Fermented dairy products, such as kefir and yogurt made from sheep’s or goat’s milk and avoid the commercial products that are heavily sweetened and have added sugars and fruits
Natural prebiotics, which nourishes the healthy bacteria already in your microbiome:
• Cinnamon, which balances blood sugar and, therefore, insulin, helping to prevent insulin resistance and thereby causing your body to burn fat rather than store it,
• Turmeric, a natural anti-inflammatory that helps heal the gut, support the microbiome, and promote good brain function.
Other food sources include asparagus, carrots, jicama, garlic, Jerusalem artichoke, leeks, onions, radishes, tomatoes.
4. Create a healthy lifestyle
If your child’s health is optimal, then they will not have gut problems. Ensure your kids are staying hydrated by drinking enough fluids throughout the day. To make them drink water more, you could try giving them fruit-infused water, which has an enhanced taste. Moreover, your children need to stay active because it stimulates the digestive system and helps in the waste excretion process. Therefore, please encourage them to go outside to play with other children or take them on runs with you. Do not keep over-sanitizing your kids; it does more harm than good. Exposure to germs can help boost their immune system.
5. Do not forget to include probiotics and prebiotics
Probiotic bacteria are viable microorganisms that exert a health-promoting effect on the host organism. The administration of probiotic bacteria, the nutritional supplementation with substances that foster beneficial bacteria known as prebiotics has become a therapeutic strategy. An excellent probiotic contains:
• Many diverse species
• At least these three types of Lactobacillus: acidophilus, rameneses, planataris
• Different types of Bifidobacteria
• As a bonus, Acidophilus reuterii
• Between 50 billion and 200 billion bacteria—the more, the better.
It is advisable to always purchase probiotic and prebiotic supplements with the help of a board-certified pediatric gut health professional to help your child grow into a healthy adult.