Let’s take a moment to focus on a topic that deserves some attention. The gut!

Did you know that human beings are made up of microbes? Indeed, we have over 100 trillion microbes in our gut and on our skin. In fact, microbes outnumber our human cells ten to one! Pretty amazing! There are four major sites of microbial colonization: mouth, skin, vagina, and colon.

The majority of microbes live in the gut, particularly in the large intestine. Friendly and unfriendly bacteria, yeast, fungi, protozoa and viruses make up your child’s microbiome. We want a healthy microbiome, full of diversity. Why is this important? Well, the bacteria in the large intestine help digest our food, regulate the immune system, protect against other bacteria that cause disease, and even produce vitamins such as vitamin B12, thiamine, riboflavin, and vitamin K.

How can you promote a healthy microbiome in your child? Glad you asked! Here are a few things you can do.

1. If possible, have a vaginal birth over a cesarean section. When the baby goes through the vaginal canal, it is exposed to beneficial microbes from the mother, and this begins the process of populating your child’s large intestine with beneficial microbes.

2. Breastfeed your child for at least a year, if possible. This will aid in populating your child’s large intestine with beneficial microbes.

3. Encourage your child to play outside in the dirt, garden and grass. Soil-based organisms on the ground are healthy for your child’s microbiome.

4. Remember that when you feed your child vegetables and fruits, many of these foods are what we call prebiotics in that they directly feed your child’s good bacteria. On the flip side, excess sugar can feed the bad bacteria and cause them to grow out of balance.

5. Have a pet. Dust from homes with dogs may reduce the likelihood of small children developing allergies. Animals expose us to different microbes which can enhance your child’s immune system.

6. Include fermented food in the diet such as sauerkraut and kombucha tea. These are probiotic foods that contain beneficial bacteria in them!

7. If you are concerned about your child’s gut, you can visit your doctor and request a stool sample test be run to determine the health of your child’s microbiome.

The health of your child’s microbiome may determine up to 80% of your child’s immune system function, so it is important to keep it healthy and thriving.

Sources:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24344318/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3337124/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6104162/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2792171/ https://depts.washington.edu/ceeh/downloads/FF_Microbiome.pd

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