Is your child’s gut health up to scratch?
We are already well into spring, many of our children are going back to school after a long period of staying at home and we are in the midst of a very unsettling and unusual time with the world shaken by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Given the renewed emphasis on healthy eating and supporting immune systems,1 many parents may be setting goals of preparing healthier family meals and nutritious school lunches. While most of us know that well-balanced, consistent nutrition is very important for growth and development from birth and into adulthood,2 how many of us are aware of the importance of gut health, especially in our children?3 It is a topic that has become more prominent in recent years, mostly around the importance of what is called gut microbiome, which is the trillions of bacteria that live inside our gut.4
The gut microbiome is established in the early years of life. Supporting your child’s gut microbiome to thrive while they are growing is very important. In fact, it is believed that before the age of four or five, children’s microbiome remains flexible, making this an ideal time to build a strong and healthy gut. After this age, the microbiome becomes well established and more difficult to change.4
A poorly functioning gut can have a negative impact on children’s health with some symptoms including uncomfortable digestion, stomach aches, poor nutrient absorption, poor immunity and sleep, mood fluctuations and general fatigue.3,4
Scientifically it has been established that a healthy microbiome is crucial to overall wellness.5
When you improve your children’s gut health by supporting the microbiome, you are helping them to lead a healthier life, with potentially fewer colds and less severe stomach bugs alongside other health benefits.5 In fact, the gut is home to 70% of the body’s immune system and is the main entry point for bugs to get into the body. The gut is also where we absorb almost all of our nutrients.4
Furthermore, antibiotic use is noted to disturb children’s development of a healthy gut and can also be associated with side effects such as mild, transient diarrhoea.6
Probiotics are the “healthy” bacteria that make up the gut microbiome.4
In the United States, it is because of the increased prominence of research demonstrating the efficacy of probiotics for children’s health that there has been a subsequent rise in the popularity of probiotics for children, with more health specialists recommending that children supplement with probiotics.6
A great deal of innovation has also gone into probiotics for children, resulting in many creative products becoming available including tablets and gummies.6
A very innovative new 3-in-1 probiotic supplement is now available in South Africa for children from the age of two years old. Créche Guard Probiotic Immune Choc Bars contain 2 Billion Colony Forming Units (CFU’s) of HOWARU® Bifido – B. lactis HN019™, a brand of probiotic single strains and preformulated blends.7 These great-tasting, individually wrapped bars also contain added vitamins and minerals and can be taken once daily to improve a healthy gut and support the immune system or can be used after periods of diarrhoea or vomiting or as directed by your healthcare professional.
Besides probiotic supplements, there are also some probiotic-rich foods that can be given to children which can boost the good bacteria in their gut and form a strong, healthy microbiome. These include yoghurt with ‘live cultures.4 Fibre is another essential component of your child’s diet and is required to achieve good gut health.4 Speak to your healthcare provider or paediatrician for more information or if you feel that your child may need a probiotic.
Créche Guard, South Africa’s number one children’s multivitamin and mineral,8 has a range of products including Créche Guard IMMUNE Multivitamin Syrup and Créche Guard Multivit GUMMIES which contains a selection of vitamins including Vitamin D, as well as folic acid and antioxidants. This range also now includes Créche Guard Restore Lolly, a new product to assist with fluid and nutrient replenishment in children. Visit http://www.crecheguard.co.za/ for more information.
1 American Institute for Cancer Research. Can your diet boost your immune system and provide better protection against COVID-19? c2020. Available from: https://www.aicr.org/resources/blog/can-your-diet-boost-your-immune-system-and-provide-better-protection-against-covid-19/. [Accessed on 24 May 2020).
2 Children’s MD. He’s too picky. Does he need vitamins? c2018. Available from: https://childrensmd.org/browse-by-topic/general-health-wellness/hes-too-picky-does-he-need-vitamins/. [Accessed on 4 December 2019].
3 Ihekweazu, FD. Development of the pediatric gut microbiome: impact on health and disease. American Journal of the Medical Sciences. 2018;356.
4 Only About Children. The importance of good gut health in children. c2019. Available from: https://www.oac.edu.au/blog/the-importance-of-good-gut-health-in-children/. [Accessed on 4 July 2020].
5 Green Child Magazine. Healthy microbiome for kids: how to boost your child’s gut health. c2020. Available from: https://www.greenchildmagazine.com/healthy-microbiome/. [Accessed on 4 July 2020].
6 Nutrition Outlook. Children’s’ probiotics: to immunity and beyond. c2017. Available from: https://www.nutritionaloutlook.com/view/childrens-probiotics-immunity-and-beyond. [Accessed on 4 July 2020.]
8 Data available on request. IMS TPM MAT July 2020.