WELLBEING

Gut Health and Children

By Alice Laidlaw

Posted  July 21 2015 | 0 Shares

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“Food is medicine or food is poison.” – Pete Evans

Our children are growing up in a world where supermarket shelves are bursting with processed food that is full of sugar, trans fats and ingredients that we can’t even pronounce! These foods are presented to us and our kids as ‘healthy’ with various selling points such as gluten free, sugar free, fat free…but what most of these foods are also free from is nutrient density that we can only really obtain from what we like to call ‘whole foods’. As humans, we have the same nutritional requirements as our ancestors who ate foods in their complete and natural form. Processed foods that are primarily full of sugar and additives are causing an inflammatory and stress response in our bodies, and our kids bodies! As families, we need to get back to basics and start teaching our kids the importance of eating foods that aren’t covered in a package and allow them to ‘taste’ and enjoy real and nourishing food.

But why is this so important? Kids today are suffering more and more from allergies, food intolerances, impaired mental health such as ADHD, anxiety and depression, low energy, fatigue and poor immune health. At the core of all this is the gut. Processed food and our current lifestyle are disrupting the function of the gut and repairing the gut health of our kids may be the key to improving their overall wellbeing!

 So why is a healthy gut important?
  • Our gastrointestinal system is the centre of everything. It is where we digest and absorb the nutrients we ingest. If this is functioning at its best, we effectively utilise all the nutrients we put into our body. This can improve brain function and energy levels.
  • Immunity! 70% of our immune system surrounds our gastrointestinal tract. The healthy flora (or bacteria) in our digestive tract acts as a first line of defence against pathogens we may ingest and acts as a barrier between our internal environment and external environment. Thus a healthy balance of ‘good’ bacteria is integral to the immune system.
  • Healthy gut flora will ensure healthy regulation of GALT (Gut associated lymphoid tissue). The GALT system helps to regulate the immune system and without healthy gut flora, it will not operate at full capacity.
  • A healthy gut will produce necessary enzymes and nutrients such as B vitamins
Signs and symptoms of a gut imbalance:
  • Bloating
  • Pain
  • Flatulence
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
Health conditions that may be caused by an unhealthy gut:
  • Skin conditions such as eczema
  • Allergies and food intolerances
  • Depression, anxiety and associated symptoms such as bedwetting
  • Fatigue, low mood, learning difficulties, inability to concentrate and irritable
  • IBS or problems with digestion – complaints of sore tummy, firm and bloated stomach or changeable stools e.g. diarrhoea to constipation or straining
What can contribute to poor gut health in children?
  • Poor diet (a diet high in sugar, processed foods and trans fat)
  • Medication use such as asthma preventers, antibiotics, paracetamol and ibuprofen
What can we do to improve the gut health of our children?
  • Eat whole foods – enjoy a wide variety of foods including meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, good fats and whole grains. A colourful diet nourishes the gut
  • Try new recipes that incorporate whole foods to keep meal times interesting for your kids.
  • Eliminate unnecessary ‘liquid’– one can of soft drink can contain up to 9 teaspoons of sugar. Try smoothies instead! They are an easy way to obtain stacks of nutrition.
  • Snacks – try making healthy snacks that contain no refined sugar. We have some on our website that are delicious and the kids will love them.
  • Be aware of the messages on packaging – companies use words such as vitamins, antioxidants and fibre to draw us in (they are extremely clever) but just be aware that if it’s in a packet, there is almost always a catch!

Our philosophy at Luxton Clinic is to revitalise and nourish for optimal wellness and this often starts with the gut! If you think your child(ren) may be experiencing poor gut health and you need further advice and support, Alice Laidlaw specialises in Naturopathy for Children. Book an appointment with Alice today.

Alice Laidlaw,  Paediatric Naturopath at Luxton Clinic

Written By Tahlia Holmes

Reviewed by Alice Laidlaw 21 July 2015 references
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This document has been developed and peer reviewed by a KIDS HEALTH Advisory Board Representative and is based on expert opinion and the available published literature at the time of review. Information contained in this document is not intended to replace medical advice and any questions regarding a medical diagnosis or treatment should be directed to a medical practitioner.

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Gut Health and Children

WELLBEING

“Food is medicine or food is poison.” – Pete Evans

Our children are growing up in a world where supermarket shelves are bursting with processed food that is full of sugar, trans fats and ingredients that we can’t even pronounce! These foods are presented to us and our kids as ‘healthy’ with various selling points such as gluten free, sugar free, fat free…but what most of these foods are also free from is nutrient density that we can only really obtain from what we like to call ‘whole foods’. As humans, we have the same nutritional requirements as our ancestors who ate foods in their complete and natural form. Processed foods that are primarily full of sugar and additives are causing an inflammatory and stress response in our bodies, and our kids bodies! As families, we need to get back to basics and start teaching our kids the importance of eating foods that aren’t covered in a package and allow them to ‘taste’ and enjoy real and nourishing food.

But why is this so important? Kids today are suffering more and more from allergies, food intolerances, impaired mental health such as ADHD, anxiety and depression, low energy, fatigue and poor immune health. At the core of all this is the gut. Processed food and our current lifestyle are disrupting the function of the gut and repairing the gut health of our kids may be the key to improving their overall wellbeing!

 So why is a healthy gut important?
  • Our gastrointestinal system is the centre of everything. It is where we digest and absorb the nutrients we ingest. If this is functioning at its best, we effectively utilise all the nutrients we put into our body. This can improve brain function and energy levels.
  • Immunity! 70% of our immune system surrounds our gastrointestinal tract. The healthy flora (or bacteria) in our digestive tract acts as a first line of defence against pathogens we may ingest and acts as a barrier between our internal environment and external environment. Thus a healthy balance of ‘good’ bacteria is integral to the immune system.
  • Healthy gut flora will ensure healthy regulation of GALT (Gut associated lymphoid tissue). The GALT system helps to regulate the immune system and without healthy gut flora, it will not operate at full capacity.
  • A healthy gut will produce necessary enzymes and nutrients such as B vitamins
Signs and symptoms of a gut imbalance:
  • Bloating
  • Pain
  • Flatulence
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Nausea
Health conditions that may be caused by an unhealthy gut:
  • Skin conditions such as eczema
  • Allergies and food intolerances
  • Depression, anxiety and associated symptoms such as bedwetting
  • Fatigue, low mood, learning difficulties, inability to concentrate and irritable
  • IBS or problems with digestion – complaints of sore tummy, firm and bloated stomach or changeable stools e.g. diarrhoea to constipation or straining
What can contribute to poor gut health in children?
  • Poor diet (a diet high in sugar, processed foods and trans fat)
  • Medication use such as asthma preventers, antibiotics, paracetamol and ibuprofen
What can we do to improve the gut health of our children?
  • Eat whole foods – enjoy a wide variety of foods including meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, good fats and whole grains. A colourful diet nourishes the gut
  • Try new recipes that incorporate whole foods to keep meal times interesting for your kids.
  • Eliminate unnecessary ‘liquid’– one can of soft drink can contain up to 9 teaspoons of sugar. Try smoothies instead! They are an easy way to obtain stacks of nutrition.
  • Snacks – try making healthy snacks that contain no refined sugar. We have some on our website that are delicious and the kids will love them.
  • Be aware of the messages on packaging – companies use words such as vitamins, antioxidants and fibre to draw us in (they are extremely clever) but just be aware that if it’s in a packet, there is almost always a catch!

Our philosophy at Luxton Clinic is to revitalise and nourish for optimal wellness and this often starts with the gut! If you think your child(ren) may be experiencing poor gut health and you need further advice and support, Alice Laidlaw specialises in Naturopathy for Children. Book an appointment with Alice today.

Alice Laidlaw,  Paediatric Naturopath at Luxton Clinic

Written By Tahlia Holmes

Reviewed by Lisa Kelly 21 July 2015
references
  • current version

  • PEER REVIEWER

  • Doc id

  • next review

This document has been developed and peer reviewed by a KIDS HEALTH Advisory Board Representative and is based on expert opinion and the available published literature at the time of review. Information contained in this document is not intended to replace medical advice and any questions regarding a medical diagnosis or treatment should be directed to a medical practitioner.

make a comment

0 comments

latest articles

view more

MEET THE EXPERTS

view more