Guts. Specifically, I’m talking about your toddler’s gut.
This may not be something most moms are thinking about, but if your toddler has chronic diarrhea, constipation or any other digestive issues, maybe you should.
I am a mother of twin toddlers and I know first hand the effects of a poor gut. I supplemented my breast-feeding with infant formula and at the time did not know that the colic and constipation my daughter was having was attributed to the lack of gut flora she had. Luckily my pediatrician gave me some insight on gut health and the benefits of breastfeeding.
As I’m sure you already know, breast milk serves as the best source of nutrition for your child. Along with a perfect ratio of macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals, it also provides antibodies to protect against infection and beneficial bacteria that sets the foundation for your child’s gut flora. Fortunately, for women with low milk supply or worried their child isn’t receiving enough nutrients, adding a multivitamin that enhances your breast milk quality and quantity into your routine is incredibly beneficial for both mother and child.
What Is Your Gut?
Your gut is also known as your intestinal tract. It is part of a larger digestive system responsible for turning what you eat into energy that’s used by your body. It houses approximately 100-trillion gut flora.
Your gut flora is responsible for keeping you optimally healthy. As Hippocrates said, “All disease beings in the gut.” With a gut imbalance you’re at risk for:
- Yeast Infections
- Allergies to certain foods
- Leaky Gut
- Irritable Bowl Syndrome (IBS)
Having a poor gut can also cause irregularity in your brain chemistry.
In her book, Gut and Psychology Syndrome: Natural Treatment for Autism, ADD/ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Depression, Schizophrenia, author Campbell-McBride discovered that individuals who have autism and other learning disabilities as well as those with psychiatric illnesses have one thing in common, they all suffer from some type of digestive problem.
Through her research, Campbell-McBride uncovered a correlation between having an unhealthy gut, poor digestion and toxins released from undigested foods, that affects a person’s brain chemistry. She coined the term GAPS which stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome.
What Causes an Imbalance In Your Gut?
- Sugars and Grains – Having a diet rich in grains and sugar causes bad bacteria to flourish in your gut creating an imbalance.
- Antibiotics – Antibiotics help get rid of bad bacteria that are the cause of your illness, but it also wipes out any good bacteria you have in your gut.
- Work-Life Imbalance – Having chronic stress and anxiety in your day-to-day life depletes your healthy gut flora.
- Toxins in your life – Parabens found in your makeup, phthalates in plastic items or Triclosan in your soap could all work against your gut by producing bad chemicals in your body.
How Can I Help Boost My Toddler’s Gut Flora?
As a mother, knowing what is healthy is always at the forefront of your brain.
After my pediatrician told me about the importance of having a healthy gut, she had me working on my child’s digestive health. My children are almost 2 and I’m still making sure that they have a healthy number of beneficial probiotic foods and supplements every day.
Here are 3 powerful boosters that help my children’s gut. Take a look and see if they might help your children achieve a healthy balance of gut flora.
Supplement With High Quality Probiotics
Probiotics are live bacterial cultures that are in yogurts, other dairy products and are also available in powder form. They help bring in more friendly bacteria to your intestinal tract. This in turn helps combat any bad bacteria and helps restore your poor gut.
Make sure when you purchase your probiotic mixture, that it contains the Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Streptococcus strains in concentrated amounts. You may have to buy different types of supplements to get all three strains.
Although your typical yogurt has probiotics, it isn’t nearly enough to achieve a proper balance in your gut.
One type of probiotic I use with my children is Kefir. It is a fermented drink that tastes like buttermilk. My kids get a ¼ cup a day and they enjoy it. I also give them a probiotic powder-based supplement called FloraBaby, which provides 5 strains of essential bacteria for toddlers.
The overuse of antibiotics and their unintended effects are widely known. One consequence of over prescribing antibiotics is that bacteria can become resistant like MRSA and VRE.
Even scarier is that certain broad-spectrum antibiotics destroy the beneficial good bacteria along with the bad bacteria in your gut.
With children, antibiotics are most notably used for ear infections. Children are prone to ear infections because of their underdeveloped Eustachian tubes, where fluid builds up. Many doctors over prescribe antibiotics, when in fact many ear infections can clear up on their own.
Let Your Kids Get Dirty
Do you remember when you were little and you would spend all day outside playing in the dirt, creeks, and any nooks and crannies around your home? I used to spend all day at a creek by my house catching crawdads when I was little. You would find me in ankle-deep water with a bucket, a makeshift fishing pole, and cheese to lure them.
What I didn’t know then, was all that time I spent outdoors did wonders for populating my gut flora. In fact, there is evidence suggesting Vitamin D from the sun offers nutrients to your gut lining. You can also supplement your child’s diet with a Vitamin D supplement.
Playing in the dirt also introduces good and bad microbes into your body. This helps build immunity in children. So instead of saying, “Oh don’t touch that puddle! It’s dirty!” try saying, “Splash away! Let’s jump in it!”
Having a healthy gut means having a healthy you. Give your toddler an early start by providing him or her with a rich source of probiotics to help populate their gut flora.
Did you find this information useful? What other boosters do you use for your children? Do you find doing these 3 things effective for your children?
Elna Cain is a former Special Education Assistant who now spends her days running after her twin toddlers, all the while pursuing a freelance writing career. When she isn’t writing you can find her using the best naturalistic and holistic approaches to keeping her family healthy. You can find out more about Elna over on her blog at Innovative Ink.
Hi Marysa – This is such a great article! As a new mom, I try so hard to ensure I am purchasing healthy food for my children as well as help them have a balanced diet. The information you provided on gut health is so useful for all moms and proves the importance of great nutrition early in life. Secondly, we live for the days we can be outside playing in the dirt. The dirtier the better but sometimes I think I should make him stay out of it. Its so good to know I am not alone in “the more dirt the better” mentality.
Thanks so much for sharing!
What a great post! Finding a pediatrician who doesn’t overuse antibiotics is so important to my family. We recently experienced this with one of our kids who had an ear infection. Our doctor gave us many great tips for treatment to try out before his last resort – antibiotics. The ear infection cleared up on its own! Thanks for your words of wisdom in this post!
This is a great post about gut health, this is the info more of our doctors should be sharing to people.
So many sicknesses and problems can be prevented just by keeping our guts healthy and functioning properly, again great great post.
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I’ve always said a dirty kid is a happy kid. Didn’t realize how true that actually was.
I really think that kids not being able to go out and get dirty is a huge reason why they get sick easier. I used to play in the dirt growing up and that helps build your immune system.
I’ve heard a lot of good things about Kefir. Seeing it here again. I’ll have to give it a try!
I appreciate you sharing this post! My gid daughter has an issue and I am bookmarking this to share with my brother inlaw 😉 Gut health is so important!
Taking care of our child’s gut health is so important. Letting your child go outside and get dirty is one way of strengthening their gut health.
Great tips on improving your child’s gut health, I bet they’d be great applied to adults too!
A healthy gut is important. I’m actually taking probiotics. This sounds like a great one for toddlers.
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