It is estimated that between 70% and 80% of the immune system resides in the gut. Specifically, it is the good bacteria, the probiotics that have a positive effect on healthy immunity and so much more. So how do they get there and how does a parent make sure her baby has a bounty?
We are born with our very own “fingerprint” of bowel bacteria. While still a relatively new field of study, it is believed that babies develop their bacterial population through the birthing process so what mom has to give is as important as what baby is fed. The good news is that we can build up good bacteria throughout life.
A healthy load of good bacteria contributes to:
- The manufacture of B vitamins in the intestine.
- Helps reduce the possibility of allergies, eczema and asthma
- Fights food borne pathogens like E. Coli and Salmonella Helps digestive issues like gassiness, constipation and diarrhea
- Increases absorption of calcium, magnesium and iron
If you are/were a mom who had a sugary diet, yeasty troubles or took frequent antibiotics and you have a child who seems to have frequent colds, allergies, gas or colic, they are related. Suspect a gut that isn’t up to snuff. Yours and your child’s.
Luckily, there is much that you can do while pregnant and after birth to have a positive impact on good gut bacteria throughout life for both of you:
- Reduce or eliminate white sugar and white flour (they feed the bad guys)
- Increase probiotic food intake with things like:Organic plain yogurt and fermented foods like miso paste, sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh
- Increase pre-biotic foods (foods that feed the good guys)with things like oatmeal, chicory, brown rice, nutritional or flake yeast, chia seeds
- Add a probiotic supplement
Working these foods into your baby’s day can be easy. Starting each morning with a spoonful of yogurt (once your baby is cleared for cow’s milk) can become a lifelong healthy habit. Having oatmeal, chia or brown rice daily is a given in any household. Most kids like the taste of miso soup because it is so darned salty. Working your way up to the more esoteric and intense flavors can take a little longer and are well worth it.
A probiotic supplement can be started with the youngest of babes. I used the capsule form, opened it up and sprinkled a few grains onto my daughter’s tongue after breastfeeding from about 4 months of age and then into her food once she started solids. We had far fewer tummy troubles and diaper rashes than any of our friends and colds and flu have come to visit far less often. Many of these supplements are not shelf stable and must be refrigerated, although there are new ones on the market that are enteric (protein) coated to survive the countertop and the trip through the acidic stomach.
A wonderful snack or appetizer for both parent and toddler. (Mom can drink from a mug to keep her on the go!)
Serves: 2 adults Prep time: 2 minutes
- 4 cups boiled water
- 1 sheet nori (Japanese seaweed sheets), optional
- 2 tablespoons white miso paste
- 1/2 cup soft tofu, cubed
Bring water to a boil and turn off, allow to cool for 2 minutes. (water that is too hot will kill the good bacteria) Rip in bite sized pieces of nori ( if not age appropriate for child, i.e. choking hazard , omit). Stir in miso paste and add in tofu.