Feeding a toddler can be a challenge! As a nutritionist, I had every idea that my child would be an all star eater, but I’ve been humbled in this department a time or fifty. With that being said, I make every attempt to keep my family’s gut health in mind. The gut microbiome is linked to immunity strength, digestion and even mood. So here are some ways you can help promote good gut health in your little one.
1. Eat fermented foods! Foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, lacto-fermented pickles, and cured greek olives are great for gut health. If your kid is on the pickier side though, start with kefir (a staple in our family). Traditional or coconut milk kefir can make a great base for a kid-friendly smoothie! Mix together kefir, frozen berries, ice and strawberry Sneakz for a probiotic rich smoothie.
2. Plant a garden and play in the dirt! While not all of us have the space or green thumb (me!) to plant a garden, I have stopped cringing when my daughter plays in our backyard dirt. Soil based organisms (found in dirt and soil) have strong strains of beneficial bacteria that do a really good job of surviving the digestive system. Eating from a backyard or community garden can also have the benefit of teaching our little ones about growing healthy food and eating a little good-for-you dirt here and there.
3. Include healing bone broth! Bone broth (homemade or found in the frozen section at specialty grocery stores) is rich in glycine, which is important for a healthy lining of the gut. It is also one of my favorite ‘super foods’ as it is rich in protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. My picky three year old loves to sip bone broth plain, but you can also use it as a base for soup, mixed with veggies, or slip it into sauces.
4. Include fibrous foods! High-fiber foods act as prebiotics which feed the good bacteria already living in our gut helping them to grow and multiply. Prebiotics are naturally found in foods like bananas, asparagus, berries, artichokes, apples, mangos, black beans and chia seeds. A favorite in our home is bananas dipped in almond butter and chia seeds or a bowl of kefir topped with berries and sprinkled in chia seeds (both picky-toddler approved).