It is no understatement that a happy gut means a happy tummy. Research has revolutionised our understanding of the relationship between gut and brain health, and it’s proven that nurturing your baby’s gut health is crucial to supporting their immune system, digestive system, brain development and overall health.
A baby’s early microbiome is influenced by their mothers, even as early as preconception. If you’re trying to conceive or you’re expecting, working on improving your microbiome will give your child a strong start to developing their own. This will help support their immune and digestive systems as well as brain development during the first three developmental years.
Boosting your child’s gut microbiome health doesn’t have to be difficult and can be easily integrated into your and child’s diet. Here are some great ways to nurture a healthy gut and aid brain development during and after pregnancy.
To help develop your baby’s microbiota before birth, it’s important to eat a clean and healthy diet, rich in prebiotic and probiotic foods during the pregnancy. Probiotic foods include natural yoghurt, kefir, miso and kimchi, bananas and oats.
Prebiotics are found in staple ingredients such as bananas, onion, garlic, green peas, sweet corn, chickpeas, lentils, red kidney beans, asparagus, beetroot, snow peas, nectarines, watermelon, pomegranate, dried figs, dates, white peaches, oats, wheat bran and cashews.
Although breastfeeding isn’t always an option for lots of mums, breast milk is a rich source of probiotics and healthy fats. Breast milk nurtures the microbiome with beneficial bacteria until they are mature and helps to strengthen the baby’s immune system. There are formulas that have probiotics and human milk oligosaccharides which are normally present in breast milk and can play a valuable role in boosting gut immunity.
If prioritising gut health wasn’t a big focus during your pregnancy, don’t stress. The foods you wean your baby onto will have the biggest impact on your baby’s gut health in the long run. A great way to do so is by introducing your baby to a large variety of foods when introducing solids.
Foods that are rich in probiotics to feed your baby
Sauerkraut can be a cheap condiment to make at home and offers essential bacteria for your baby’s gut, helping them to digest foods and boosting their immunity. A great way to introduce this is by giving your baby a teaspoon of the juice to provide probiotics. Once they move onto solids, expand on this by introducing small pieces of sauerkraut.
If your baby isn’t too keen on the sour flavours of other probiotic foods like this then fermented applesauce is a delicious alternative. It offers the same benefits as sauerkraut and helps make eating fermented foods a positive experience.
Bone broth is great for bubs and parents! It contains specific amino acids to boost immune systems. The gelatin in bone broth also aids healthy digestion which can help your baby to absorb nutrients, enabling healthy growth and development.
Gut health disrupters:
Foods packed with preservatives, additives and artificial sweeteners can be disrupters to gut health. Minimising unhealthy foods will allow good bacteria to thrive, promoting positive gut and brain health. Your children mirror behaviours that they are exposed to, so modelling your own healthy eating habits is important to their development, as well as your personal health.
By Mandy Sacher, Paediatric Nutritionist and Global Chief Nutrition Officer at MindChamps
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