18 Jun 4 Easy Steps to Support Beneficial Bacteria
The human body contains trillions of beneficial bacteria, so small that we cannot see them. The scientific term for these microbes is the human microbiome. However, they have many other household names too, such as ‘gut flora’, ‘good bugs’, ‘gut bugs’, ‘good bacteria’ and ‘beneficial bacteria’.
Beneficial Bacteria are the backbone of your child’s health and wellbeing
Friendly bacteria play an influential role to ensure your child’s optimal health and wellbeing. Listed below are some of the roles they play.
- Boosts immunity to protect against infections
- Improve mental health (anxiety and depression)
- Support optimal brain function (focus and concentration)
- Reduces the risk of developing food allergies
- Improves skin health (eczema, rashes and itchy skin)
Step 1: Include more fibre
Many people don’t know this, but the friendly bacteria can’t live without fibre, it is their favourite food that feeds them. Fibre is found in fruit, vegetables, whole grains (rye, spelt, rice, quinoa, barley, oats and wheat), nuts, seeds and legumes. If your child doesn’t like veggies, try grating them or adding them to smoothies and popsicles so they aren’t as obvious.
Step 2: Fermented food and drinks
Fermentation is a process that involves the breakdown of sugars by bacteria and yeast. This not only enhances the preservation of foods, but eating fermented foods can also boost the number of beneficial bacteria or probiotics living in your child’s gut. Probiotics found in fermented foods have been associated with improvements in digestion, immunity and brain health. Different types of fermented food your child will enjoy include coconut water or milk kefir, tempeh, miso or Greek-style yoghurt.
Healthy Child Tip: Kombucha and kefir are great alternatives to soft drinks and soda. You can start slowly by diluting fizzy drinks with the fermented drinks so they can adjust their taste buds to less sugar.
Step 3: Probiotics
Probiotics are an important supplement to take when trying to boost and replenish the good bacteria and crowd out the bad bacteria. You can get probiotics both in natural food (fermented food) and in supplement form.
It’s especially important to give your child a good quality probiotic supplement after antibiotics. Buy probiotics from your local health food store or pharmacy. Also make sure you buy probiotics that require refrigeration.
Step 4: Let them get dirty
Allowing your child plenty of outdoors play exposes them to a host of plant and soil-based beneficial bacteria. Get them outdoors playing in the dirt, building sand castles with a bucket and spade, planting seedlings, weeding, picking flowers or vegetables, rolling around on the grass and outdoor sports. If you have a family pet, even better. Furry family members bring a diverse range of outside bacteria inside the home. When your child’s is playing with their furry friend they are adding to their own diversity of beneficial bacteria that lives deep within their gut.
FIONA STOCK | THE CHILDREN’S NATUROPATH | MELBOURNE NATUROPATH
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