Dr Kate Stephens, Gut Microbiologist, shares six top tips to help boost your child’s gut health over the summer:
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- Get outdoors – It is widely acknowledged by scientists that children who expose themselves to different environments have a more diverse and well-balanced microbiome. This is because increasing exposure to everyday germs can challenge and boost the immune system and microbiome. The summer can be a great time to expose your child to a mixture of environments – whether it’s a day on the beach, a picnic in the garden, or splashing around in a paddling pool – outdoor play is not only fun, but is also one of the ways you can help your little one’s gut!
- Soak up some sun – Studies suggest that vitamin D deficiency and low gut microbial diversity could lead to a rise in certain allergies and some autoimmune diseases. So, getting those sunshine hours in (weather permitting) is important to supplement a healthy gut. Just remember to slap on that sun cream if you are spending time outdoors!
- Up their fibre content – High fibre foods such as beans, peas, oats and bananas have been shown to have a positive impact on digestive health and will help keep your child’s bowel movements regular. Another easy fix is swapping white bread or pastas for wholegrain alternatives, they might not even notice! Just be careful not to overfill their plates with fruit, as sugar can impact the healthy balance of your microbiome.
- Get physical – We all know that being active is a vital part of keeping our bodies and minds healthy, however emerging research suggests there may also be a link between physical activity and promoting a healthier gut composition. Physical movement can also help keep the bowels moving, so even more reason to up your family’s activity levels over the summer months. Opt for something your children love to do – whether that’s football, dancing, swimming, or a leisurely family walk in the park – it will keep them entertained, and you’ll reap those healthy benefits too.
- Spend quality time with the family pet – Some studies show that having an animal in the house could be great for the immune system and your gut microbiome in early years. In fact, studies in infants suggest that having a dog may reduce the risk of asthma and allergies. Others suggest that having more than one pet, especially dogs, had a more protective effect. A perfect excuse for a group dog walk or puppy cuddles!
- Take a daily probiotic – Probiotics are friendly bacteria that help to support and maintain a healthy gut and digestive system. In addition to introducing fermented foods and plenty of water and fibre into your child’s diet, try supplementing this with a specially formulated children’s probiotic that’s easy to take and free of added nasties. OptiBac Probiotics ‘For babies & children’ is a great choice, it contains live cultures strains, which have been extensively researched in babies and children and shown to reach the gut alive.