The Secret to Healthy Kids All Parents Should Know

+ How to empower kids to make healthy decisions printout

 

Imagine baking bread, but, you forget to add the flour?

It would be a bit of a flop.

Flour is the ingredient that is the crux of a tasty loaf of bread.

And there is a secret, no one talks about that is the crux of having a healthy, thriving kid. 

Do you want to know what it is?

The one thing above all else to concentrate on as a parent that would help your child be the healthiest they can be?

Take care of their Gut (and teach your child to take care of their Gut).

Your child’s gut is where 80% of their immune system lies (1). It is where hormones are made (2), it is where the outside world meets their inside world.

Without a healthy gut, you cannot have a healthy child.

 

In this blog, you will get an introduction to:

  1. Why Digestive Health Matters in Kids
  2. How your kid’s Microbiome affects their health
  3. How to empower your kids to make healthy choices 
  4. What foods Nourishes their gut and kid-friendly ways to get them into your child. 

AND a FREE HANDOUT is included… so keep reading. 

 

Why Digestive Health Matters in Kids

Gut. Aka, Microbiome, Microbiota, Digestive System or Colon. While all of these words have their own specific definition, for ease I will use these words to refer to the part of the large intestine where loads of bacteria are housed.

Your child’s microbiota is located at the end of their digestive system, in their large colon.

The microbiome refers to the millions of bacteria that live inside the digestive system.

We, as humans, have more bacteria cells in us than we do human cells.

Lots more.

Look at your hand… If your hand represented how many bacteria and human cells you have in your body combined, the area of your pinky is human, and the rest of your hand is bacteria.

If I compared you to me,  99.9% of our genetic material is exactly the same… but our microbiome is probably 99.9% different.

Our differences, the difference between a constantly sick child and a thriving child has more to do what is in ones microbiome than a genetic difference.

 

Ok, I know what your thinking…

Isn’t bacteria bad?

That’s why we sterilise all our baby toys, why we wash our hands with antibacterial soap and why we take antibiotics when we are sick…

It was once thought we were doing good by living in a bacteria-free world… but time for an upgrade in our thinking…

Not all bacteria are bad… you would be very sick if you didn’t have any bacteria.

Your child needs bacteria not only to thrive but to survive.

Learning to take care of these bacteria located in the Gut will help your child be the healthiest they can be.

I like to think of them as a pet that lives inside me. In our house, we call them ‘gutties’. I have taught my kids that they need to take care of their gutties if they want to stay healthy – below I’ll show you how to do the same for your kids.

 

How Micbotiotia an Affect Your Kids Health

Our understanding of how these little guys affect us is growing daily. What we know,  as of today is;

Gutties are involved in:

  • Gut maturation
  • Education of the immune system
  • Protection against harmful virus and bacteria
  • Influencing brain activity
  • Affecting metabolism
  • Absorption of vitamins and minerals

What this means for your growing child is that their microbiome (Gut) can influence:

  • Your child’s life-long health
  • Your child’s risk of food allergies and autoimmune disease
  • How often they get sick
  • Your child’s risk of developing obesity, heart disease & cancer later in life
  • Your child’s behaviour
  • Your child’s cognitive development (IQ)
  • Your child’s energy levels

This list will keep getting longer with more research.

So, if you want to have thriving, healthy kids…

Then the way to those healthy kids is through their Gut. Teaching your kids to take care of their gutties is a gift that keeps giving.

 

How to Empower Kids to Make Healthy Choices

To help kids understand something it is easier for them if they can ‘see’ it.

Below is how to explain microbiome (or ‘gutties’ as we call them in our house) to kids.

Explain the below to your kids, then, during dinner concentrate on how feeding gutties with food ‘tastes amazing.’  These two strategies are magical ingredients when empowering kids to make healthy choices for themselves.

(Please excuse my drawings, it’s a skill I am working on!)

Below is a printable version… Feel free to print it out and if you want to share it on your social media feel free… the more parents explaining this to kids, the more empowered generation we will have.

Note: The whole point of explaining this to kids is so that you put the idea in their heads that when they eat they are not only eating for themselves, but for their ‘pet’… their “gutties”. 

Get FREE Printouts of the list of foods that are good for gutties AND  kid-friendly ideas to serve it.

FYI 

The best way to look after ‘gutties’ is with diet.

It only takes 24 hours of eating a better diet for your child’s microbiome to change.

So read the list below and start making plans of how you can get foods good for gutties into your kid’s diet…

And remember, changing diet is not an overnight process… small sustained changes over time makes huge gains.

Is your Child in their first 1,000 days?

During your child first 1,000 days their gut is maturing. The more you can do to feed their gutties either through breastmilk or feeding their gutties when you introduce solids and beyond, the better they will be off when they grow up.

Sign up to my FIRST foods free email course if your in the introducing foods stage.

Also as a life-style hint, let you baby play in sand and dirt, adpot a dog. A little dirt is perfect for your child’s developing gut.

What Food Nourishes Gutties?

When it comes to encouraging people to change their diet, I am a big fan of ‘adding in’ rather than taking out.

So, concentrate on the three general food groups that nourish gutties. By eating more of these foods, you will crowd out the other foods that do not nourish gutties.

The three groups are Soluble fibre, Pre-biotics Foods and Probiotic foods.

Want a quick way to help gutties flourish?

If it gets too overwhelming of what specific foods to eat… then the quick way is to think unrefined plant base diversity (aka as many different plants as possible) – we often count how many unrefined plant-based foods we have eaten in a day. It has been a great way for my kids to ‘try’ the new food on their plates. 

Foods High in Soluble Fibre

Some of the top soluble fibre foods include raw oats, lentils, beans, avocados, kumara (sweet potato), broccoli, pears, pumpkin, spinach, carrots and apples, broccoli, pears, flaxseed and sunflower.

 

Soluble Fibre Foods for Kids?

To add more fibre to your family’s diet, try Bircher muesli made with kefir for breakfast. Or when you do you next Lasagne or Chili, swap ½ the mince for lentils — snack on carrots with hummus or fruit instead of crackers & muesli bars. Small changes can make a big difference.

You can also use smoothies to your advantage, make the base either kefir or coconut water and add in greenish banana and or berries to help make it palatable for your kids then put some spinach and ground flaxseeds. It’s a fun way to feed their gutties while feeding themselves while eating a diversity of plant-based foods.

 

Foods High in Prebiotics 

Prebiotic foods feed your microbiome.  It’s like putting fertilizer on a plant. These foods will help your microbiota to thrive.  Foods high in prebiotics include garlic, onions, leek, green banana’s, apple, seaweed,  sweet potato, asparagus, almonds, cinnamon and turmeric.

 

Pre-biotic foods for Kids?

To add more of these to your family’s diet try blending onions or leeks into your next meal – kids sometimes can take a bit to enjoy the texture of onions, so blend them up instead. The more they have meals with onion and garlic blended in, the more your kids will be exposed to this food and therefore the more likely they will willingly to accept onions not blended down the track.

For lunch, you can make some rice balls that they can wrap with the small packets of seaweed. The cooked and cooled rice and seaweed is a double whammy of goodness for your little one’s gutties.

 

Note: make sure the seaweed is made with olive oil and not canola or sunflower oil.

Foods High in Probiotics

Probiotic foods are foods that contain live bacteria. These bacteria will enhance your child’s microbiome. Foods that are fermented, cultured or Lacto-fermented all have live bacteria. Specific foods include fermented vegetables, cultured dairy and some Japanese favourites.

 

Probiotic Foods for Kids?

Cultured (fermented) vegetables:

Any vegetables… Sauerkraut, fermented kumara & kimchi are a few that can be made kid-friendly.

If I had a magic wand that granted every parent the ability to make one recipe, do you know what that recipe would be?

Sauerkraut.

This recipe is the kid-friendly version that after a bit of training their taste buds, your kids will love eating. Sauerkraut is the one constant in my kid’s lunch box; they love teaching their class-mates and teachers about sauerkraut.

For more ideas of how to introduce Fermented Foods to kids check out this guest blog.

Fermented Dairy:

Kefir and natural yoghurts. You can buy both of these at the supermarket – make sure they are not loaded with sugars or sweeteners – even better is if they have been cultured rather than yoghurt with live cultures added in at the end.

If in doubt, go for the natural, no added sugar/sweetener varieties.

Smoothies are great ways to get this probiotic into your kid’s diet – for a simple recipe blend 1 cup of kefir with ½ banana, add in a pinch of cinnamon or a dash of vanilla and you have an easy banana milkshake kids will love.  (if the bananas are green then this will add a good dose of prebiotics as well!)

 

Japanese Favourites:

Miso and natto, two popular foods.

Are you getting sushi for lunch? Order a miso soup to go with it. Natto is more of an acquired taste, but with some taste, training is an excellent way to start the day.

Get FREE Printouts of the list of foods that are good for gutties AND  kid-friendly ideas to serve it.

Taking care of gutties and feeding you kids foods that nourish their gutties will be of massive benefit for your kids, both for now but also their life-long health.

So get on it today… I love the saying 

Either easy now, hard later on or a challenge now and easier later on.

 

Overview of The Secret to Healthy Kids

Gut health is the crux of health, like flour, is the crux of bread.

If you want to have a healthy child but it seems like there are 101 things you could be doing… Stop.

Just do one thing…

Concentrate on feeding your kids gutties with soluble fibre rich foods as well as pre and probiotic-rich foods. If you teach them that they have a pet inside them called gutties that will help them flourish, even better.

Feeling overwhelmed?

Pick on thing to do, get ingredients to have a smoothie as a snack this week, try Bircher muesli, throw away the cracker and chips as snacks and replace it with fruit or even start experimenting with your family “vegetable sides” at dinner times.

Just do one thing until that is your family’s new normal and build from there.

If you’re overwhelmed because you cannot remember what specific foods are good for gutties… Just think plant-based foods that are unrefined: vegetables, fruits, beans, lentils, whole grains AND think as many varieties as possible… so start again with one meal or one food which you d0n’t normally cook and go from there. 

 

So, if you want healthy kids?

Think

Feed yourself, Feed your Gutties.  And teach them to feed their gutties while you’re at it.

What food or recipe will you introduce to your kids today or tomorrow?

Wal

 

The Secret to Healthy Kids

+ How to empower kids to make healthy decisions printout

 

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