Gut health seems to be the latest fad trend in wellness. But it is also a rapidly growing field in medical research.
Supporting gut health should be focussed around good diet and supporting the health of the gut microbiome.
The gut microbiome is the collection of good (and sometimes bad) bacteria and other microbes that live in our small and large intestines. These microbes help our bodies break down the food we eat and even produce beneficial vitamins for us to use! So why should we be concerned with our children’s gut health?
- The microorganisms found in the gut help with the breakdown of breastmilk, formula and food. A balanced digestive tract will improve nutrient absorption but an unbalanced digestive tract can lead to a problem in stool formation (diarrhoea or constipation).
- The first 3 years of life are fundamental for the formation of a healthy gut microbiome. Microbes begin to live in the gut soon after birth, and around 3 years of age the gut is “fully colonised” and prepared to prevent infection from other harmful pathogens.
- It stands to reason that these early years are also when it is easiest to change the balance of the gut microbiome. So learning healthy gut habits young will not only have beneficial impact in terms of your child’s behaviour in the years to come, but also the gut health they have to build on.
- A balanced gut supports health by acting as a barrier to harmful microorganisms. The microbiota found in the gut prevents the overgrowth of more harmful organisms that can cause disease.
- As well as acting within the gut to prevent disease, a healthy gut microbiome has also been shown to have an effect on the immune response of the whole body. The presence of certain beneficial gut bacteria can actually increase the numbers of immune cells throughout the whole body.
- Gut health is also important in the formation of allergies and other atopic conditions such as eczema. Research suggests that an unbalanced gut can result in inflammatory changes across the whole body, and this can affect the chances of developing allergies.
- The link between gut health and brain health is well established but still being studied. Did you know your gut bacteria make around 95% of the serotonin in your body which affects your mood? Poor gut health could have an impact on learning, memory, anxiety and mood.