Why Gut Health Is Mental Health?
With the rise of social media and being under a constant microscope and scrutiny of peers, it can all amount to unwanted anxiety, depression and even mood swings. What most parents do not realize is that, what their children eat, affects not only their weight, but also their mental health.
Research indicates poor mental health among adolescents and children is linked with the intake of refined carbohydrates, processed foods and meals loaded with saturated fats. Your diet can have a massive impact on the neurotransmitters present in the brain. Did you know approximately 90% serotonin is produced within the gut? Therefore, it is essential to encourage your little one to eat more nutritious meals for a happy, healthy gut.
According to nutritionists, it is not only the food that impacts kids mental health. Diet, quality of sleep, exercise, self-care, stress levels, as well as the quality of relationships with family and friends can all have an impact on health.
How Gut Health Affects Everything?
Children struggling with persistent intestinal problems can be dealing with more underlying issues which can prevent them from getting adequate nutrient content. Gut health has a direct impact on hormones released by the brain as well as the immune system. Therefore, care should be taken to promote and maintain gut health.
How to Improve Gut Health Naturally?
Stay with us to discover the many ways you can ensure your child’s gut health reaches its optimal potential.
Best Fiber for Gut Bacteria
There are two types of fibres, insoluble and soluble fibre. Both are beneficial for various reasons, hence eating both is the best practice. Your list of high fibre foods should ideally include fresh vegetables and fruits.
So which fruit has the most fibre? These include strawberries, raspberries, mangoes, oranges, bananas and apples. High fibre vegetables include Swiss chard, spinach, potatoes, carrots, broccoli, beets and artichokes.
Apart from this, you can encourage your kids to eat more legumes and beans. Serve them in chilis, soups and salads in different varieties so they can enjoy eating healthier meals.
Next time when you are shopping in the grocery aisle shop for breakfast cereals with five or more grams of fibre per serving and whole-grain bread. Such as cracked wheat, dark rye, pumpernickel and 7-grain bread. To ensure you get the most nutritious bread, make sure either whole grain or whole wheat are mentioned at the very top of the ingredient list, as this indicates the intensity of ingredient present in the product.
Most kids love to snack, as do most adults. Instead of shopping for chips, biscuits and the usual tubs of ice creams stock on nuts. Get a variety of sunflower or pumpkin seeds, pistachios, cashews and almonds. However, since they are high in calories and therefore should be eaten in small quantities.
Getting optimal daily fibre intake by eating a high fibre diet not only promotes gut health but also reduces digestive issues, prevents and treats irritable bowel syndrome. The best part is it helps maintain a healthy weight, which is excellent as too many kids are suffering from childhood obesity due to drinking sugary soft drinks and eating deep-fried fast foods.
Does Bacteria Thrive on Sugar?
Viruses and bacteria thrive on sugar, which can lead to an imbalance within the digestive system. Similarly, added sugars and processed foods can reduce the amount of good bacteria within the gut. No wonder eating chocolatey treats during a cold or flu can make kids feel worse.
Effect of sugar on gut bacteria include the formation of harmful biochemical compounds and inflammation. This is especially true for refined sugars which are packed with a high level of fructose corn syrup. Hence, sugar is one of the worst foods for gut health.
Help satisfy your kid’s sweet tooth with assorted fruits, flavoured yoghurt and smoothies. You can even make homemade sweet treats with stevia and other natural sugar substitutes such as raw honey which is rich in natural minerals and vitamins that have a positive impact on gut flora.
Fermented Foods Good for Digestion
Foods rich in probiotics, good bacteria, are a sure-fire way to bolster gut health. The probiotics produced during the fermentation process can aid digestive problems. Fermented foods are also essential for boosting the immune system and minimizing the risk of catching a common cold. Moreover, eating probiotics also aids convalescence.
Did you know fermentation aids the process of breaking down nutrients derived from foods and makes it easier to digest? If that was not enough, eating fermented foods also helps destroy antinutrients, for instance, lectin and phytates, which can create an interference in the nutrient absorption.
Fermented foods for weight loss work well as they help reduce belly fat. Lactobacillus helveticus and Bifidobacterium longum found in fermented foods help reduce depression and anxiety. Best tasting fermented foods include Sauerkraut, Kimchi, Kefir, Kombucha, Miso, Tempeh and yoghurt. Most children love eating yoghurt, but in case you have a picky eater at your hands here is a delicious recipe sure to become a favourite among kids.
Super Healthy Chocolate Banana Smoothie for Kids
- 1 Tbsp. cocoa powder
- 1 Tbsp. chia seeds
- 1 Tbsp. golden linseeds or flaxseeds
- 100g Plain Greek yoghurt
- 400ml milk
- 2 Tsp. honey
- Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until well combined.
- Pour into a glass, add a colourful metal straw and let your kid enjoy.
This healthy chocolate banana smoothie is super easy to make and tastes incredible. It contains loads of nutritious ingredients that are excellent for growing kids.