Depending on the age of your child, they have more than likely went through some sort of digestional discomfort or abnormalities sometime in their life. Babies are especially susceptible to intestinal discomfort that can manifest in various ways especially when consuming formula as opposed to breastmilk.
Smaller kids and toddlers can also experience intestinal discomfort for various reason, including indigestion from certain foods or additives they have been consuming. Some kids may not naturally produce the enzymes necessary to break down and metabolize certain food products such as lactose which is found in milk. This is a very common experience as the enzymes used to break down milk products are less numerous as we grow up. As a baby, they are plentiful, but as we get older, even as a small child, this specific enzyme becomes less plentiful in our bodies and some may even experience symptoms similar to lactose intolerant symptoms.
How to Help
One great way to help with digestion issues is to supplement enzymes, but that is a bit tricky as a lot of knowledge about what enzyme an individual is lacking is needed and if treated incorrectly, can lead to further digestion problems and upset stomach.
A great way that I have found for my children and even myself as an adult is to focus on increasing the amount of probiotics we consume.
What are Probiotics?
Probiotics are the healthy bacteria that are found in a wide variety of foods. There are thousands of strains of probiotics, from lactobacillus acidophilus that is common in yogurt, to Bifidobacterium bifidum, which is found in a variety of cheeses and yogurts and also helps with healthy digestion and supports a healthy immune system. To implement these foods is not as hard as society makes it out to be, as there are probiotics in a lot of foods.
Usually a lot of foods such as sauerkraut, that contain probiotics, also contain certain enzymes which further help in assisting with regular digestion and help in absorption of important nutrients and minerals. This help in absorption will help in a myriad of ways, from a better mindset, less anxiety, to a healthy digestion process and a healthier life overall.
There are a lot of foods out there that contain natural probiotics and are great to include daily into your family’s diet. Some foods that contain a good amount of probiotics are as followed :
Yogurt, Sauerkraut, Kombucha, Kefir water, pickles (that are pickled naturally, over an amount of time) and a vast range of fermented (or pickled) foods such as kim chi, pickled carrots, etc.
Mostly all fermented foods will contain a wide variety of probiotics as well as important and beneficial enzymes.
In cultures different than America, the consumption of fermented foods is much higher and there is a direct correlation between digestive issues and health and the amount of probiotic rich food a person consumes.
Fermented foods are also very beneficial because they have a long shelf life, which helps people sustain themselves in less developed parts of the world. Where there is a lack of refrigeration, fermented foods can sustain life and can be held without refrigeration for a long period of time.
Alongside the physical health benefits associated with probiotics, there are also mental health benefits. There are many studies that show that because of the issues probiotics can fix in a person, it correlates with a more positive attitude and overall better health.
How to Slowly Introduce More Probiotic Rich Foods
For your child, a great way to start them out with getting more probiotics is to have them eat a half cup of plain yogurt in the morning. If they are more used to sweetened foods, you can add fresh berries or even manuka honey, agave, or even stevia for a good product that will not raise their blood sugar much. This little bit of yogurt every morning will increase their probiotic consumption and contribute to a healthier digestive tract. If your child is lactose intolerant like a growing number of kids are, you can start them off with a glass of kombucha in the morning.
Kombucha is a lovely health drink that has been around for thousands of years and has really gained popularity across the globe especially in western society. It is loaded with beneficial bacteria and also has a wide variety of enzymes and acids that help in many different aspects of one’s health.
A lot of children may be put off by a lot of so called “healthy foods” such as kombucha, but if you find a good flavor they like, it is much easier to implement these beneficial foods. There are a lot of different flavors out there of all these foods, so don’t just try one and give up if they do not like it. Try a variety!
With that said, it is very easy to increase probiotic foods in the diet if your child is not a picky eater. Sometimes fermented foods that contain probiotics can be pretty tangy and salty, such as sauerkraut. The trick is, instead of eating them plain, to include them into already favorite foods. An example would be to put a bit of sauerkraut on top of their favorite hot dog!
What about babies?
Babies are a bit trickier to implement probiotics. The best way to do this if breastfeeding is for the mother to increase her consumption of probiotic rich foods. There are drops one can buy as well that are probiotic drops for babies, and these can also be an option.
Colic is a well known issue with babies, especially babies that are bottle fed. Probiotics are a great way to help rid baby of the symptoms of colic. In some cases, this completely cures it!
In summary, probiotics are a great way to help a myriad of problems one will undoubtedly experience in their childhood. From babies to teenagers and everybody in between, they can benefit from an increase in probiotics in their diet. The biggest factor is to slowly increase their consumption until it becomes a natural every day event of consuming probiotic rich foods. Just find something your family likes. A cool suggestion is to pickle things yourself, or make your own kombucha. This gets the whole family involved in the process and you can explain to the little ones why eating or drinking these foods will help their health, especially their digestive health!
About The Author
Daniel Chabert is an entrepreneur, basketball fan and vegan. Working at the nexus of modernism and purpose to express ideas through design. He enjoys writing some recommendations on sites like Born Cute, Car Seat Experts, Nicer Shoes and That Sweet Gift.
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Also published on Medium.