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Eat Right: Building a strong stomach for better immunity

How to get past stress, inculcate good sleeping habits and fix your child's gut microbiome

children health, healthy eating habits in kids, health and immunity in children, gut health in kids, immunity in kids, healthy foods, parenting, indian express newsChewing food allows starches to get properly broken down in the mouth and reduces acid reflux. (Photo: Getty/Thinkstock)

In continuation with our column last fortnight that spoke of the signs of an unhealthy gut, we look at all the ways we can ensure that our children can develop good gut microbiome:

Managing your child’s stress levels

Stress can negatively affect our microbiome. Establishing balance in our life will support our mental and emotional health and optimise our gut and overall health. Nowadays, even children are susceptible to stress. Some ways to lower stress may include meditation, walking, spending time with friends or family, using essential oils, laughing, yoga, or having a pet. To keep stress away, teach your child to walk away from things not meant for them.

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Ensuring sufficient and timely sleep

Getting enough good-quality sleep can improve mood, cognition, and gut health. Ensure your children establish healthy sleep habits by putting them to bed and waking them up at the same time each day. Try to ensure that they get at least 7–8 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night.

You may inculcate the following habits for a good night’s sleep:

Avoid giving children excessive antibiotics and pain killers

Antibiotics are prescribed to combat bacterial infections but over prescription and overuse can damage the gut microbiota and immunity. Up to even six months of antibiotic consumption, the gut may still lack several species of beneficial bacteria. Stomach infections and flu that can be managed more conservatively with home remedies and rest should be treated without antibiotics especially in smaller children.

Try and buy dairy and meat products that are not treated with antibiotics.

Teach children to eat slowly and chew their food to a liquid

Chewing our food thoroughly and eating our meals more slowly can help promote full digestion and absorption of nutrients. Chewing food allows starches to get properly broken down in the mouth and reduces acid reflux. It initiates better protein breakdown in the stomach preventing bloating and gas. Eating food slowly instead of on-the-go can restore gut health and replenish gut microbiome.

Change what they eat

Gut-healthy foods include:

Get rid of toxins in the environment that can destroy the good bugs in the gut

Just as antibiotics can disrupt the gut microbiota, so too can disinfectants, hygiene and cleaning products. Some common ones are:

  1. Bisphenol A (BPA) found in many plastic products, as well as food and drink packaging. BPA has been linked to a range of health effects, but it has also been shown to reduce and change microbiome diversity
  2. Phthalates found in plastic products as well as personal care products, particularly in fragrances and perfumes. They are hormone disruptors which can affect fertility and male development. They also can disrupt the microbiome
  3. Triclosan is an antibacterial used in some personal-care products such as antibacterial soaps, toothpaste, deodorants, cosmetics, plastic toys and laundry products. It is made specifically to kill bacteria, good or bad. It also is a known hormone disruptor. Researchers found that triclosan can alter the microbiome in animals and humans

Wishing you good health and healthful bacteria!

Manjari Chandra is a consultant, functional nutrition and nutritional medicine, Manjari Wellness, New Delhi. Her column appears every fortnight

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First published on: 12-06-2022 at 06:28:41 pm
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