Eat well: build a strong stomach for better immunity


In the continuity of our chronicle of the last fortnight which spoke about the signs of an unhealthy gutwe’re looking at all the ways we can make sure our kids can develop a good gut microbiome:

Manage your child’s stress level

Stress can negatively affect our microbiome. Establishing balance in our lives will support our mental and emotional health and optimize our gut and overall health. These days, even children are sensitive to stress. Some ways to reduce stress may include meditation, walking, spending time with friends or family, using essential oils, laughing, doing yoga, or having a pet. To ward off stress, teach your child to walk away from things that aren’t meant for him.

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Ensuring adequate and timely sleep

To have enough good quality sleep can improve mood, cognition and gut health. Make sure your kids develop healthy sleep habits by putting them to bed and waking them up at the same time every day. Try to ensure they get at least 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night.

You can inculcate the following habits for a good night’s sleep:

  • An early light dinner.
  • Avoid watching TV or exposing yourself to any artificial light for at least an hour before going to bed.
  • A warm shower or bath helps before going to sleep.
  • Sleeping on the left side is generally recommended.
  • Listen to Yog Nidra or nice slow music just before hitting the pillow.
  • Turn off the Wi-Fi and, if they are allowed to use cell phones, make sure they put the devices away when they go to bed.

Avoid giving children excessive amounts of antibiotics and painkillers

Antibiotics are prescribed to fight bacterial infections, but over-prescription and overuse can damage the gut microbiota and immunity. Even up to six months of antibiotic use, the gut may still lack several species of beneficial bacteria. Stomach infections and the flu that can be managed more conservatively with home remedies and rest should be treated without antibiotics, especially in small children.

Try to buy dairy and meat products that are not treated with antibiotics.

Teach children to eat slowly and chew their food until liquid

Chew our food well and eating our meals more slowly can help promote full digestion and absorption of nutrients. Chewing food allows starches to break down properly in the mouth and reduces acid reflux. It initiates better protein breakdown in the stomach, preventing bloating and gas. Eating food slowly rather than on the go can restore gut health and replenish the gut microbiome.

Change what they eat

  • Reduce processed, packaged, ready-to-eat, ordered, high-sugar canned, and fried foods
  • Include plenty of plant-based foods and lean proteins in your child’s diet
  • A high-fiber diet has been shown to be a huge contributor to a healthy gut microbiome
  • Be sure to consume less sugar and sweeteners. Eating sugar or artificial sweeteners can cause gut dysbiosis

Gut-healthy foods include:

  • Fiber-rich foods like legumes, beans, peas, oatmeal, bananas, berries, asparagus, and leeks
  • Raw garlic, ginger, onion and cooked tubers such as sweet potato, colocasia and yam
  • Raw papaya, raw mango, bell peppers, beets and turnips contain prebiotic fiber
  • Fermented foods such as kanji, homemade pickles, kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, tempeh, miso, and kefir are excellent dietary sources of probiotics
  • Collagen Boosting Foods such as bone broth, mushrooms, nut milks, leeks, tomatoes, and salmon may benefit overall health and gut health in particular

Get rid of toxins in the environment that can destroy good bugs in the gut

Just as antibiotics can disrupt the gut microbiota, so can disinfectants, hygiene and cleaning products. Some currents are:

  1. Bisphenol A (BPA) found in many plastic products, as well as food and drink packaging. BPA has been linked to a range of health effects, but has also been shown to reduce and alter microbiome diversity
  2. Phthalates found in plastic products as well as personal care products, especially in perfumes and perfumes. They are hormone disruptors that can affect fertility and male development. They can also disrupt the microbiota
  3. Triclosan is an antibacterial used in some personal care products such as antibacterial soaps, toothpaste, deodorants, cosmetics, plastic toys, and laundry products. It is specially designed to kill bacteria, good or bad. It is also a known hormonal disruptor. Researchers have found that triclosan can alter the microbiome in animals and humans

I wish you good health and healthy bacteria!

Manjari Chandra is Consultant in Functional Nutrition and Nutritional Medicine, Manjari Wellness, New Delhi. His column appears fortnightly.

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