5 ways to encourage good gut health in kids
Clinical Dietician, Nutritionist and, as a mum of two, Jaime Rose Chambers shares how to encourage good gut health in our children.
1. Nurture the good bacteria
The microbiome are the trillions of bacteria that live in the gastrointestinal tract and they feed off fibre that come from plant foods like fruit and veggies, wholegrains, nuts, seeds and legumes (chickpeas, lentils).
When these bacteria are well-nourished, they thrive and create the foundation for a healthy gut environment.
2. Include probiotic foods
Probiotics are the live bacteria found in the gut and we can include these in the form of ‘live and active cultures’ found in yoghurt (look for no added sugar varieties and avoid yoghurt-coated bars and snack foods) as well as kefir, pickled vegetables like sauerkraut, tempeh, miso and kombucha.
3. Limit highly refined, processed packaged foods
These foods are generally void of any important nutrients that are so important for kids gut health and growth and development. If eaten too much, they can take the place where kids could be having a gut-loving food. Ideally keep treat foods small and for special occasions.
4. Make it fun!
Getting some kids to eat plant foods can be a challenge – I get it!
Here are a few tips:
a. Start with a base of what you know they will eat and build from there
b. Make them fun – use cookie cutters to make cute shapes, thread fruit on skewers to make kebabs, serve them in fun bowls or plates
c. Get the kids involved where you can – (safely) chopping, stirring, fetching from the fridge, picking from the garden. If they’ve been involved in the process it means they’re more likely to try it
d. Sneak them in if you have to – this is a controversial topic but at the end of the day, I want my kids eating plenty of nourishing plant foods so I always add things like chia seeds, nuts, spinach and avocado to their smoothies and loads of veggies and lentils into bolognaise sauce!
5. Drink enough fluid and get outside for plenty of activity
The magic trio I encourage for my patients for healthy bowel function is ‘fibre, fluid and movement.’ Drinking plenty of fluids makes sure that stools don’t get dehydrated and cause constipation. Getting outside for some movement helps stimulate bowels, plus the bonus of being outside means the kids hands are getting dirty and exposing them to all that good bacteria.
About Jaime Rose Chambers
Jaime is a leading Clinical Dietician, Nutritionist and, as a mum of two young kids, is especially interested in and passionate about children’s nutrition. Jaime treats her patient’s medical conditions with nutrition and lifestyle, and spent six years as the Nutrition Leader for the NSW Government project Go4Fun, which targets overweight and obese children aged seven to 13.
She is also an author having written ’16:8 Intermittent Fasting’ in 2019, co-written The Mystery Gut and has just released a follow up to ’16:8 Intermittent Fasting’ in March 2021. Jaime has partnered with Swisse Wellness to bring to light the importance of a healthy diet for growing children.