Gut health has become a popular buzzword in households across the country. In fact, both humans and their pets are listening closely to what their guts have to say.
But what exactly is gut health, and why is it so important? It's true that gut health can aid in healthy digestion, but what else does it do? And how can I ensure I'm taking care of my children's gut health, too?
These questions can feel overwhelming at first, but having a solid understanding of how your gut works can help you improve your digestive system, as well as teach your kids how to care for their own gut health now and in the future.
When we talk about gut health, we're referring to the body's gastrointestinal (GI) tract. A simple way to explain this to your kids is to have them think about their body's passageway for digesting food.
From the moment we eat our favorite snacks to the time it passes through our digestive system and comes out as stool during potty time, our GI is hard at work!
This means our GI not only helps us break down the foods we eat, but it also helps us absorb nutrients and process waste.
Now, here's where things get icky...we mean, interesting. Did you know that our intestines are home to trillions of organisms, the majority of which are living bacteria?
Wait, isn't bacteria bad?
It's true that some types of bacteria are associated with disease or other illnesses, but other kinds of bacteria help your body perform essential functions and keep your immune system going strong. Collectively, these bacterias are referred to as Microbiome
"The microbiome consists of microbes that are both helpful and potentially harmful. Most are symbiotic (where both the human body and microbiota benefit) and some, in smaller numbers, are pathogenic (promoting disease)," (The Nutritional Source).
When you're healthy, these good and bad bacterias coexist peacefully in colonies throughout the body. However, when you get sick, change up your diet, use antibiotics (which kill bacteria), or even feel stressed for long periods, it can create an imbalance in these colonies, also known as dysbiosis.
When this happens, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Upset stomach
- Occasional constipation
- Abdominal pain
Why does gut health affect potty time?
Your gut bacteria affects the timing of our bowel movements. That means an imbalance can cause the digestive system to slow down, allowing the colon to absorb too much water, making the stool harder to pass, or speed up, which means it doesn't have time to harden and moves out quickly.
So, now that you know why gut health matters, the next step is figuring out how to promote a healthy gut.
Fiber and Gut Health
Is there anything we don't love about fiber? Not only is it a key nutrient our bodies need to go #2, but certain fibers act as prebiotics, providing food for gut bacteria and promoting healthy microbiome colonies.
"Feeding your child a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes ensures that her developing microbiome has lots of nourishment," (Parents).
We get that your kid might prefer potato chips over a bowl of carrots and hummus, but if they see you modeling this behavior, they're likely to try it, too. Making your kids a part of the meal planning process is also a good way to introduce them to high-fiber foods and steer them in the right direction.
And the more they practice this habit, the easier it becomes to make the right food choices when it comes time to fill their own plates.
Check out this blog for tips on making fiber fun for your kids.
Foods that support children's gut health
In addition to delicious fruits and veggies that promote healthy guts, try these other gut-approved options:
- Whole Grains
- Low-fat Cheese
Foods that may disrupt children's gut health
Foods that are high in sodium, loaded in sugar, or deep fried can create gut health issues, such as gas, bloating, or occasional constipation.
Many of these food items don't contain any nutritional value and can actually feed the bad bacteria living in your gut.
Support Your Kids' Gut Health with Doolies
If your kids aren't big fans of eating sauerkraut, we have a delicious snack-time solution that will satisfy even the pickiest eaters. Check out our selection of Doolies snacks—all made using a combination of real-fruit ingredients and naturally-sourced fibers to help support gut health and aid digestion.
We promise your kids will love the great taste and texture—in fact, they probably won't even realize it's good for them. It will be our little secret!
Shop now and feel good about your kid's gut health and snack time!