The health issues our children are facing today are mind-blowing. Allergies, asthma, diabetes, and so many other health issues that were rare 30 years ago are now far too common.
Digging deep into the why can get very overwhelming, because quite a bit is out of our control.
But one area where we can have a lot of influence is their eating habits.
Childhood eating habits play an important role in growth, development, and overall health, especially in the prevention of chronic disease.
One of the main ways is through a healthy diversity in the gut microbiome. A diet with a variety of real foods, especially fruits and veggies, supports a healthy gut microbiome. Even better if you can sneak in some fermented foods, like “live” yogurt and kombucha.
“Microbiome” refers to all the bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites that live in and on our bodies. There are A TON of them, and they are extremely important to our survival. A large percentage live in the gut, helping to break down food and stimulate the immune system. They are also closely linked to our mental health.
In a healthy body, there is a good ratio of beneficial to not-so-beneficial organisms. When this ratio is out of wack, we become much more susceptible to sickness and disease, both physically and mentally.
Studies indicate that this ratio is directly affected by the foods eaten as a child. A child fed a typical Western diet high in processed foods will have less beneficial bacteria, even if they change their eating habits later in life.
So if your goal is to set your child up for a healthy life, start today with what you are putting on their plate. And then keep going. Don’t give up. I read recently it can take up to 20 exposures for a child to like a new food (and I have a 10 year old who thinks that number is much much higher). Do what you can to encourage fruits and veggies at every meal. Your kids will thank you one day!