Every child experiences digestive health issues at one time or another. By adding in the following foods to your child’s diet, you will help increase the health of the digestive system. That way digestive issues such as constipation and diarrhea only come around once in awhile or not at all!
1) Flax seeds– Extremely high in nutrients this superfood is great for children who need digestive support. In my experience, many of my young client’s struggle with constipation and flax has been very helpful. They are high in insoluble and soluble fiber and healthy fats (Omega-3 fatty acids) and therefore can support healthy elimination. In fact, flax seeds are the richest source of Omega-3 fatty acids in plant-based form. Flax seeds also contain a decent amount of protein and vitamins such as B1 and B6 as well as several minerals including manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium, iron, potassium, copper, and zinc. Due to the high fiber content, if your child struggles with diarrhea you may want to skip flax seeds as it can further loosen stools. I recommend you use a coffee grinder to grind the seeds shortly before use as the seeds are difficult to digest whole and lose their nutrient value as they are stored as flax meal (ground up). Then they are easy to sprinkle on oatmeal or add to smoothies.
2) Prebiotic Foods– Say what? Many people have never heard of prebiotic foods. Prebiotic foods have been in the spotlight lately as more research is linking our health to a healthy gut microbiome. Prebiotic foods nourish healthy bacteria in our gut. These foods include garlic, onions, carrots, asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, leeks, and jicama. Some of these foods may be more kid-friendly than others, but get some in their diet if you can. Carrot sticks are usually pretty easy to get kids to eat. You could also make a soup of potatoes, carrots, peas, onions, garlic, asparagus, leeks, and salt and pepper and run it through a blender. Yes the soup will be green, but if they can get past the color, I have found many of my young client’s love this soup, otherwise you can always try just potatoes, leeks, carrots, onion, and garlic to make it orange.
3) Probiotic Foods– Foods that contain live bacteria is excellent for your child’s health, especially their digestive health. These foods include non-dairy kefir or yogurt, kombucha, fermented vegetables such as pickles, beets, or carrots, miso, and raw apple cider vinegar. Yogurt is probably the easiest to get into kids, just make sure there is not too much sugar or it defeats the purpose. You can also buy unflavored and add raw honey and frozen fruit. You can add a few of the fermented vegetables to salads or stir fries after cooking. Try making your own salad dressing using half raw apple cider vinegar and half your preferred vinegar (such as balsamic), olive oil or avocado oil and spices.
It is important to maintain digestive health, but it may be even more frustrating or difficult if a child is taking medications, especially antibiotics. Antibiotics work by killing all the bacteria in the body, unfortunately the healthy bacteria is destroyed as well. The healthy bacteria help keep our kids from getting sick. If we are not replacing the good bacteria they are more susceptible to illness. This is often why you end up giving several rounds of antibiotics to your child to treat a reoccurring sinus or ear infection. The gut microbiome must be balanced and incorporating these foods I discussed is a great way to start.