You put your kid’s health as priority number one. You do everything you can and everything else you can think of. Although you think you might have everything covered, from getting in their vitamins to drilling it in their heads to wash their hands before eating, your child’s gut health might not be in the running for top priority in your daily routine.
Although it might be a bit of the middle child of the family—not getting too much attention, gut health actually plays a very vital role in absorbing all those nutrients that you’re spending all of your time and efforts in getting into your family.
It can be the silver lining that keeps your child healthy or makes them ill because it has a huge responsibility of releasing those toxins, allergens, and microbes that shouldn’t stay in the body. Since it is in charge of optimal digestion, absorption, and assimilation of food, it also has a direct link to the health of the whole body.
Doing all you can to promote a healthy gut is essential to help your child raise their immunity levels to protect them from minor colds and sicknesses during the year. Promoting good gut health can be the missing piece of the puzzle if you seem to find that your child is getting sick during the school year. Implementing these few things in your daily routine can also assist with losing weight when balanced with a healthy diet and regular exercise.
A healthy gut also regulates your child’s digestion, which is needed to keep things moving as they should, avoiding all kinds of stomach aches and issues that you don’t want your little one going through. Since a healthy gut does a good job of absorbing vitamins and minerals, a not-so-healthy gut will be missing that component—leading to problems like bloating, constipation, sleeping, and lethargy.
Some of these “symptoms” might leave you clueless as to what could be wrong. However, once you figure out (or with the help of your pediatrician) that it’s possible that your child is suffering from gut-related issues, here are a few easy ways that you can boost your child’s gut health:
1. Rub Some Dirt in It.
Letting kids be kids is not only important for their childhood, but allowing them to get dirty and play can actually help them with their gut health. Being exposed to everyday bacteria is essential for their growth and health. When a child can “stomach” these issues early on, their guts will be more diverse and be less likely to develop problems later on—even reducing the possibility of allergies and certain diseases.
2. Stay Away from Processed Foods.
Even though we live in a world where processed foods are so accessible, it is recommended, if not, completely necessary that you try and keep your child’s diet away from processed foods as much as possible. These foods contain excessive sugar and salt, which can increase the likelihood of your child having gut-related issues.
To easily take care of this issue, you can make homemade snacks or treats—you know what goes in them—reducing the sugar and salt intake of not only your child but also your entire family. You can also take the lead in improving the whole of your family’s diet by making sure they are taking in a good amount of balanced fibre, fruits, berries, water, and legumes.
3. Stop Getting Spray Happy with the Hand Sanitizer.
Taking out the hand sanitizer for every time Charlie puts his hands in the grass will not only cost you in the long term with the number of hand sanitizer bottles you go through, it is also hurting him with not allowing him to build up his immune system.
“Exposing” them to dirt (letting them play in the sandbox or at the playground for a bit) can help build their immune system up so it can fight off germs. This method is much better than trying to avoid germs at all costs.
Of course, you should always teach your child to practice good personal hygiene (washing their hands before meals, after the bathroom, etc.) However, don’t put your kid in a bubble! Let them get a little dirty every now and then.
4. Keep the Antibiotics to a Minimum.
The doctor might be prescribing antibiotics and you should trust your doctor! However, it doesn’t hurt to ask if antibiotics are completely necessary for that specific situation. The overuse of antibiotics can eliminate some of the good gut flora in your child’s stomach, which will definitely not help their gut perform well. When in doubt, always talk to your child’s doctor.
5. Get Your Child Moving.
Not only is exercise an important part of life that benefits your child’s health in so many ways, it also does wonders for gut health. Exercising will boost the amount of good bacteria in your child’s body, which will then oust the “bad” bacteria.
That doesn’t mean you have to enroll your child in boot camp. They can get enough exercise simply by playing outside or taking them to the park or playground.
6. Focus on Implementing Certain Foods in your Diet.
Giving your child a fresh and balanced diet by adding fibrous vegetables, dark berries, gelatin, natural or Greek yogurt, pickles or sauerkraut, and so many other types of food can do wonders for their gut health. Overall, try to avoid artificial sweeteners and processed sugars. If you need to sweeten something up, you can use raw honey.
All of these small changes can have a big, positive impact on your child’s gut health. Although you might not be able to implement all of them in your child or your family’s day-to-day lifestyle, you’ll still be contributing to improving your child’s gut health—one play date at the playground at a time.
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