What many people don’t realize is that 70% of your immune system lives in your gastrointestinal tract. There are trillions of good bacteria that live in your gut and help protect you against common viruses and bacterial infections. Some microbiologists are currently studying how these good bacteria may also affect your metabolism, your mood and even mental health disorders. So needless to say, keeping your gut healthy is a very effective way to keeping you healthy on many levels!
The health of our bacteria depends on lifestyle and environment and much of it is determined during childhood. Making sure your child has a healthy microbiome (all those trillions of good bacteria) isn’t difficult. Follow these easy steps.
Feed the good bacteria.
Keep the good bacteria happy and healthy by feeding them food rich in fiber such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts. I personally trick my three-year-old into eating vegetables on a daily basis by feeding him those all-too convenient fruit and vegetable pouches. Other examples of kid-friendly, high-fiber foods are: any kind of bean, apples, pears, high-fiber cereal, baked potatoes with the skin on, any kind of berries with seeds and yogurt.
Take a probiotic.
There are many probiotics for children these days—even infants can benefit from taking a probiotic to help develop a healthy gut that can help them throughout their lives. Probiotics for kids come in gummy form or in packs that can easily be mixed in with yogurt, smoothies or even their favorite juice. There are several brands that can be found at Walmart, Target, CVS, Publix or Walgreens. Ask the pharmacist about which one is right for your child.
Get a good night’s sleep.
Not getting enough sleep can make you more susceptible to illness. If your child isn’t napping well at school, make sure they are going to bed early enough to get adequate sleep. Infants may need up to 16 hours a day, toddlers need 11-14 hours and three and four-year-olds need 10-13 hours a day.
Stay away from second hand smoke.
The 7,000+ chemicals in cigarette smoke can harm cells in the body. Children breathe faster than adults and their ability to eliminate toxins is less developed. Second hand smoke increases the risk of SIDS, bronchitis, ear infections and asthma.
Don’t take antibiotics unless necessary.
Antibiotics kill all bacteria—the good AND the bad. Taking antibiotics may help your child get better but it can actually weaken his/her immune system. When you or your child has to take antibiotics make sure to give him/her a probiotic and plenty of fruits, vegetables and yogurt.
Play in the dirt and cuddle up with pets.
Dirt from your yard or a garden actually carries loads of good bacteria and if your dog or cat plays outside, they’ve got plenty of good bacteria on them too. Turns out healthy soil is linked to a stronger immune system, fewer allergies, better digestion and more. Read details about how dirt and mud are good for you here.
With the influx of the Omicron strain of the Coronavirus spreading more and more every day, these steps along with washing hands and using anti-bacterial wipes and CDC approved cleaners such as PureGreen24 can greatly reduce the risk of illness in your family.