Helping tired little bodies stay healthy and robust

It’s the start of a new term, and with classes and a structured schedule often comes tired kids. At times like this, it’s really important to keep their immune system ticking over as best as possible to keep them robust and reduce their risk of sickness, writes Karina Savage.

It’s easy to underestimate how much our children’s gut health and immunity influences their lives. The human gut is an incredible organism hosting more than 400 species of microbes that play such an important role in keeping us healthy. Research tells us that our child’s gut health will influence their mood, their energy levels and very importantly their immune health.

Here are a few pointers to nourish their insides and keep them healthy and full of energy.

Include lots of plant foods

Plants naturally contain fantastic blend of fibres, which nourish the gut cells and promote the growth of good bugs (probiotics) amongst other benefits. You really can’t underestimate the importance of this.

  • Offer you children plenty of vegetables (different colours), fresh fruit (preferably with skin), legumes (include in sauces & salads), wholegrain breads and cereals, nuts (whole or nut pastes in younger children) and seeds
  • Offer plant foods numerous times each day as both snacks and main meals

Encourage good gut flora

Sometimes antibiotics are unavoidable and just have to be given. If this is the case, give your children probiotics at the same time. This will help to combat the negative effect that antibiotics can have on the gut and help to prevent antibiotic-associated diarrhea.

  • Research indicates the Lactobacillus Rhamnosus GG is an effective strain with documented health benefits
  • If you have a colicky baby, you may wish to try probiotics to help  gut health and relive symptoms of crying and irritability. Research indicates the Lactobacillus Reuteri strain may be effective
  • Research also indicates a trial of excluding cows milk protein (and soy) may reduce symptoms, but seek the guidance of a Paediatric Dietitian

The latest on probiotics

Products labelled as “probiotic” are available in many different forms (capsules, powders, yogurts,  dairy drinks etc). Unlike drugs (which are rigorously tested), only some Probiotics are tested regularly to ensure that they actually contain what the manufacturers say they do.

  • Choose products that contain the specific strain you are looking for. Fewer strains of effective probiotics are better than 10-15 less effective strains.
  • Some probiotics can now be safely stored on the shelf (compared to the fridge) as they are manufactured differently.
  • Choose a reputable brand, that is preferably TGA tested. You can find this information on the TGA website.

Karina loves chatting about gut health and tricky little tummies. She consults weekly from The Mosman Practice (393 Military Rd) and The Children’s Specialist Centre in Randwick, or contact her on [email protected]

Karina is a local North Shore mum of two young children. She truly gets how busy life can be with little ones and believes that we need to make time to slow down and support each other more. She finds great satisfaction in empowering fellow mums, arming them with the information they need to make their life easier. As a Paediatric Dietitian, specialised in gut health she loves changing the lives of little ones with tummy troubles (allergy, intolerance, IBS, colic) and relieving the stress that goes with it. She loves speaking with others and regularly presents to parents, schools and health professionals. As a huge animal lover, Karina regularly donates to animal charities that rally to give animals a voice.

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