Great tips for understanding how important the gut is and what role it plays in health!
Got a kid? Check!
Got a gut? Check!
Want to help your kid be healthy? Check!
Adequate gut health for your kids can be simple if you have the knowledge and tools to equip yourself. Here are five things you probably didn’t know about your child’s gut, and how you can help it promote health!
Your baby’s gut matters! Recent evidence and literature in the last several years has pointed towards the importance of evaluating a baby’s microbiome (how healthy and balanced the gut is)! The microbiome is influenced by several factors:
a. dietary and environment exposure: pre and post natal
b. vaginal versus caesarean birth
d. antibiotics and vaccines
We are just starting to understand how the baby’s gut microbes work and how it affects their health as an infant *and* in the future. Some of these factors you can control, some you can’t. For example, autoimmune and gut issues run in my family. Genetics are not something I can control! And by all means, if your child needs antibiotics or if you are pro-vaccine, no problem! That is your choice, and we are fortunate in this country to be able to choose. However, still be aware that all these factors affect gut flora.
Here are 5 tips to help you establish beneficial bacteria in your child’s gut
1. Prenatal Nutrition
Your gut influences your child’s gut. You read that right. How you eat and take care of your gut while you’re pregnant is INSTRUMENTAL in helping you ensure better gut health for your baby. If you have beneficial gut bacteria, beneficial organisms will also colonize your birth canal and vagina, and your baby will start life with the great gift of healthy gut bacteria. On the other hand, if you have a prevalence of bad gut bacteria and microorganisms, like candida and yeast from excessive sugar and antibiotic use, your baby is at higher risk of digestive problems, yeast infections/thrush, and predispositioned to several allergy-based diseases. These include eczema, asthma, and food allergies, and they can pre-dispose your child for chronic and autoimmune disease.Girl, it’s ok to enjoy that cookie and slice of pie when you’re pregnant! If you have an addiction to sugar, then make sure you are aware how it affects you and your baby.
2. At Birth
Vaginal birth exposes baby to many beneficial bacteria in the birth canal that provide early colonization in the gut. If you have a c-section, you can opt for “seeding,” which bathes your baby in your vaginal fluid (and healthy bacterial flora!) immediately after birth via a swab. Rigorously controlled studies have suggested that being born via c-section presents risks closely related to gut health: a five-fold increased risk of allergies, triple the risk of ADHD, twice the risk of autism, 80% increased risk of celiac disease, 50% increased risk of becoming obese as an adult, and a 70% increased risk of type 1 diabetes.
*Note: This does NOT mean that every baby born via c-section will develop health issues. Human health is a complex balance of many things. Regardless of method of birth, everyone needs to evaluate their gut health as it can have many positive effects on overall health.
3. Dietary and environmental bacteria is our best friend.
Beneficial bacteria that is. Good bacteria lives inside our gut- about 5 to 7 pounds of it! It helps with digestion of food, maintains the intestinal lining in good health, and mitigates the growth of pathogens.
As your baby grows, he/she undergoes a daily replenshing of the gut flora, first from the mother’s colostrum and milk, followed by raw and cultured food products, like kefir and yogurt. Also, coming into contact with dirt, grass, people, and other environmental exposure helps in that daily replenishing too!
Without proper nutrition consisting of healthy fats, cholesterol, and fat-soluble vitamins, the cell-to-cell junctions in the gut are likely to become weak. This allows allergy-prone proteins into the bloodstream and damages the gut, making it harder to do its job.
4. Supplement Probiotics
Don’t know what a probiotic is? They help to support your gut with good flora. If your child is getting vaccines or antibiotics, without a doubt they should be on a probiotic to help support the gut lining and ensure it regenerates and strengthens. (Give as far in between doses of antibiotic to ensure they aren’t killed along with the other bacteria.)
Probiotics help the gut remove harmful compounds and chemicals, as well as enhance our immune system. The breakdown? If your child is always sick and/or on antibiotics, they should be on a probiotic.
What if they are seemingly are never sick? Still yes! People forget that symptoms are often the LAST sign of the body fighting illness. Your body is constantly fighting pathogens and intruders- this is what it was created to do! You can help it along in this process by taking a probiotic.
5. Mystery Ingredients
This applies to both babies and kids (and adults for that matter). Read your food labels. Can’t read the ingredients? Well, neither can your gut! Harmful chemicals are in your foods, and even organic and non-gmo foods are not immune. Moral of the story? Choose local and organic as often as possible to help keep toxic overload at a minimum for your child’s body.
Wait till 6 months at the earliest to feed your baby solids, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Why? Eating foods prior to this time can lead your child towards a higher risk of leaky gut, which again pre-dispositions them for allergies, gut issues, acute illness, and autoimmune disease.
Sometimes special exceptions arise and that’s ok! We are all trying our best to navigate through this mommy-world, but information is power! You can be equipped with knowledge that can benefit your baby and child’s gut, as well as your whole family!
About the author
Lindsay Tuttle is a 28-year-old God-loving mama, wife, nurse, and blogger. Currently in her last 6 months of my graduate studies to become a Family Nurse Practitioner, which she plans to use to practice integrative and functional medicine with a focus on nutritional healing and autoimmune disease. Visit her blog at http://
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