Gut Health – Laying The Foundation For Healthy Babies and Kids

Hands on a pregnant belly

While doing health research over the last few months, I have been learning soooooo much about the importance of the role of our digestive tract in overall health and immunity. If you haven’t heard about this yet, it has been indicated to be critical for such seemingly unrelated afflictions as allergies, autism and cancer, and much more. Which makes it very important for all of us, especially mamis, to be educated about.

Through the research of Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride, it has been shown that

“there’s a profound dynamic interaction between your gut, your brain, and your immune system, starting from birth. She has developed what might be one of the most profoundly important treatment strategies for a wide range of neurological, psychological, and autoimmune disorders—all of which are heavily influenced by your gut health.” (read more here)

The article goes on further to state:

“It’s important to understand that the gut flora your child acquires during vaginal birth is dependent on the mother’s gut flora. So if mother’s microflora is abnormal, the child’s will be as well. Autism isn’t the only potential outcome in this case. GAPS [Gut and Psychology Syndrome] may manifest as a conglomerate of symptoms that can fit the diagnosis of either autism, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), attention deficit disorder (ADD), dyslexia, dyspraxia, or obsessive-compulsive disorder, just to name a few possibilities. Digestive issues, asthma, allergies, skin problems and autoimmune disorders are also common outgrowths of GAPS, as it can present itself either psychologically or physiologically.”

So, when Mami told me that Mr. Sweetie, who is still wining and dining almost exclusively on breast milk, accidentally opened a granola bar, it prompted me to re-visit the topic of the introduction of foods to your own sweeties, and also pass on some of the hopefully beneficial information I have been learning about.

Returning back to some of the basics of introducing food to babies I brought up in my post, “Food Schmood,” I was delighted to find that one of my favorite reference docs, Mark Hyman, M.D., actually had a couple posts entitled “Raising Healthy Eaters”. There is a part one and a part two, I excerpted the following from Part II (read more here):

“After 6 months it is time to start feeding your child solid food, right?  Not necessarily.  Each child will present different clues to let you know when they are ready for food. Look for these signs to know when baby is ready to try that first bite of avocado!

  • Your baby is able to sit up by themselves.
  • The gag reflex is present and your baby can swallow or push food back out with their tongue.
  • Your baby is really curious and intrigued by your food.  If they try to reach for your plate, maybe it is time to share!
  • Typically, teething is a great sign that baby is ready to take food.

Start slowly and try not to rush the process.  Sometimes mom and dad are more eager to start the baby on solids than the baby is.  If a child is not ready for this new chapter, their fragile immune system and immature digestive track can backfire and food allergies can result.  Trust your instincts and be patient, it will happen.

How to Start Solids and Choose the Best Food

  • Take it slow and simple–use one food at a time so you not only refrain from overwhelming your child from too much sensory stimulation but you can also track which foods work and which don’t.

  • Wait 3-5 days before introducing a new food so you can observe any reactions or sensitivities.  Stop a food immediately if your child responds poorly and shows signs of food allergies.

  • Stay with one meal a day for a few weeks before gradually advancing to other meals.

  • Foods not to feed baby: Caffeine, chocolate, stimulants, honey, allergens like wheat, dairy, corn, eggs, and whole chunks of food like grapes, meat or nuts.

  • Foods to feed baby: Usually vegetables and fruits are easier than grains on the little one’s digestive system.  You can try hypoallergenic grains such as quinoa and brown rice.

  • Puree or mash cooked food and mix with a little breast milk.  The familiar taste of your milk will soothe the baby with this new experience

  • Use only small spoonfuls.  Or, offer food from your finger! Remember, babies are playful and learning from every experience.

  • Does your child give you that quizzical look, like what should I do with this stuff?  Model eating yourself by tasting the food.

  • Make meal-time interactive by talking about food and using the food’s name.

  • Try to make your own food instead of buying it.  Remember, practice safety when making homemade baby food such as sterilizing equipment, labeling food with dates, discarding leftovers after 3 days, and properly storing labeled food in sterile containers in the refrigerator or freezer.”

We get more illumination about the “why” behind this  in Dr. Hyman’s post, “How To Tend To Your Inner Garden – Why Your Gut Flora May Be Making You Sick,” when we understand that:

“Your gut wall houses 70 percent of the cells that make up your immune system. You might not attribute digestive problems with allergies, arthritis, autoimmune diseases (irritable bowel syndrome, acne, chronic fatigue), mood disorders, autism, dementia, and cancer. Many diseases seemingly unrelated are actually caused by gut problems.

If you want to fix your health, start with your gut. Gut health literally affects your entire body.” (read the full post here).

As I experience and read about more and more occurrences of significant health conditions in friends, family members and society, I am reminded over and over about the importance of using our food as medicine for ourselves and our families, laying a good foundation for our sweeties (including breastfeeding and eating healthy ourselves), having a healthy home and work environment (doing away with or greatly reducing toxins and chemicals), enjoying ourselves while getting physical activity, doing stress reduction activities like yoga and meditation, and nurturing our relationships and creative selves to create the happiest healthiest mamis, sweeties and societies.

May this information shine some light on not only how important your gut is, but also help provide some info about what you can start implementing today to have a healthier, happier life.

Blessings to you and thank you for all the loving parenting you do; it makes a better world, one Sweetie at a time.

Hug attached,

Koolma  : )

 

Have you already experienced introducing food to your sweetie?   If so, share what worked and what didn’t.   Have you dealt with your own health related issues that had a link to gut health and found healing through tending to your gut wellness?

We’d love to hear from you, so please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section so we can help each other; remember, we are all in this together!

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