Improving your family’s gut health is key to helping them to stay healthy. If you want to minimize doctor’s visits and the number of colds and flus your children catch, then good gut health is vital. The good news is that a few simple tweaks to their diet and lifestyle can make all the difference. Good health doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated, nor should it be. Follow these simple strategies to improve your family’s gut health and overall wellbeing.
1. Feed the good bacteria with prebiotic foods
An easy and inexpensive way to improve gut health is to consume more prebiotic-rich foods. Prebiotic foods are foods that contain a type of fiber that contains non-digestible compounds. Prebiotics pass through the upper gastrointestinal tract and remain undigested. However, once they reach the colon they become a rich source of food for the friendly bacteria to grow and thrive.
Good bacteria love prebiotic foods, try adding more of these foods into your family’s diet on a regular basis.
- Firm bananas
- Whole grains like oats and sorghum
- Cooked and cooled rice — this increases the resistant starch content, a type of prebiotic.
- Cooked and cooled potato — as above this increases the resistant starch content
- Raw or cooked onions
- Raw garlic
- Raw leeks
- Raw dandelion greens
- Jerusalem Artichoke
- Fermented asparagus (raw asparagus is high in prebiotic fiber but difficult to digest)
2. Include a variety of gut-friendly foods into their diet
Including a variety of gut-friendly foods into your family’s diet is the next step to increasing their gut health. Fermented foods contain millions of living microorganisms—good bacteria—that populate the gut and help to boost the immune system. Good examples of fermented foods are:
- Coconut water kefir
- Milk kefir
- Homemade yoghurt (if you use store-bought yoghurt, be careful of the sugar content)
- Kombucha (good for older children)
- Fermented vegetables
Also add in foods that help to soothe and heal the gut lining. You can make your own chicken broth and bone broth — homemade broths are abundant in gelatin, which is necessary to create and restore a strong intestinal barrier.
3. Use probiotic supplements
Giving your family probiotic supplements occasionally—after a round of antibiotics—or on a regular basis as an insurance, is always a good idea. You may have picky eaters in the family who don’t enjoy fermented foods or maybe you are busy and feel they need an extra boost. Probiotic supplements are an easy and effective way to get beneficial bacteria into their gut. It can be helpful to consult your healthcare practitioner who can guide you to the most appropriate probiotic for your family.
4. Don’t over sanitize —let them get dirty!
New research now shows us that soil contains millions of beneficial microbes. If you think about it, it actually makes sense that plants need plenty of good bacteria to thrive, just as we do. Studies demonstrate that contact with soil microorganisms can help to build our immune system and decrease stress levels. Being exposed to animals and dirt can also lead to decreased asthma and eczema.
Of course, it is still important to strike a balance. Let kids play outside, get dirty and have contact with the soil. However, hand washing before eating is still a good idea. Avoid using commercial antibacterial hand soaps that contain harmful ingredients, instead opt for natural products that are better for the skin and the immune system.
We hope that these diet and lifestyle tips help you to improve the health of your family. Any small change that you make will be a change for the better, so remember to take it one step at time.