As parents and caregivers of young children, most of us are familiar with the recommendation to feed our kids wholefoods. But do we truly understand why wholefoods are so important for a little person’s growing body? More and more studies are emerging to show the vital connection between our tummies and brains, particularly when analysing a young child’s development. One of the primary ways we can encourage happy tummies in our kids is through providing them with a predominantly wholefoods diet.
So, what does the research tell us?
Our microbiome is the collection of organisms living in our intestines. When balanced and healthy, these bacteria help our bodies to fight infection and disease, digest and absorb nutrients from our food as well as improve our brain health and mood. It has become clear that the health of the microbiome during infancy and early childhood plays a huge role in the brain development and cognitive wellbeing of a child as they grow older.
As an example, a recent Australian study through Deakin University, Barwon Health and the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) used faecal samples from a group of 201 children to track their levels of a good gut bacteria called ‘Prevotella’ over the course of two years. The research found that children with lower levels of Prevotella through their first year of life had increased indicators of anxiety-like behaviours by their second birthday.
There is also growing evidence that eating primarily wholefoods and fibre hugely benefits the health of our microbiome. An American study through the Washington University School of Medicine found that switching from a diet high in fat and animal products to a wholefoods plant-based diet resulted in significant positive change in the gut microbiome in only 24 hours. By providing a wholefoods diet to improve the balance of good bacteria in a child’s tummy, we can therefore decrease the likelihood they will struggle with mental health challenges like anxiety and depression. That sounds like a very worthwhile outcome to us!
So, how do wholefoods make happy tummies?
There are lots of factors that influence our microbiome – such as lifestyle, genetic background, medication, stress, age and the environment. One of the best ways to encourage a healthy balance of bacteria in your child’s gut is through their food. A diet rich in a variety of fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, legumes, healthy fats, whole grains, pre and probiotic foods will reduce the risk of chronic disease and promote a strong immune system and more stable mood in your child. The reason being, plant-based wholefoods are naturally high in fibre and prebiotics, which feed the healthy bacteria in our tummies.
Ultimately, adopting a wholefood, plant-based diet on a regular basis will set your child up well for their long-term physical, emotional and mental health. This approach to eating will not only build up good bacteria in children’s guts, but also will encourage healthy habits around their food preferences to benefit their mind and body for a lifetime.
Gobble Guts meals are nutritionist-designed, plant-based, preservative-free and free of the nine common allergens. All our meals contain fibre and a variety of prebiotic foods to support the digestive function and the development of healthy guts.