Children are increasingly developing digestive issues that were once very rare and usually only seen adults. Conditions like bloating, gas, constipation, loose stools, and even eczema, ADHD, and Autism! The state of our health is determined the moment children begin to eat (it actually begins in utero). What we feed them and how they eat is CRUCIAL for determining how their health will be as they grow in adults. It’s SO important to give them a good foundation while they are still young, to ensure they can handle the toxins and stressors that our modern world brings.
It is heartbreaking that the average child in North America consumes copious amounts of deep fried, high carb, high sugar, low quality foods, way too much conventional meats and very little vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and seeds. This leaves their little bodies so depleted but more importantly, it leaves their digestive tracts inflamed, damaged and in poor health.
One of the beautiful things about children is that they will eat whatever you feed them if you start with the right foods right away. They won’t hate vegetables if that is all they have been offered from the start. They will LOVE fruit and wholesome ingredients if that is what has been given initially. If a child is fed juice, candy, cookies, doughnuts, high-sugar cereals, chicken fingers, etc, they will HATE anything that is whole and nourishing such as green leafy vegetables because they don’t taste sweet, salty and fatty. The good part is that while it may be difficult to change a child who is already used to bad foods, it CAN be done and there are definitely things you can start to incorporate NOW that can immediately improve their health while you begin the journey of changing their tastes buds and their preference for unhealthy foods.
Lets get Started!
Tip 1) Give them digestive enzymes ! I love giving my children digestive enzymes if I feel that they have poor digestion. If your child’s diet is lacking in fresh, raw foods, they will have a deficiency in enzymes which are needed to breakdown and digest their foods. If your child is used to consuming a lot of liquid with their meal or are fast eaters, those are even more reason to make sure you add enzymes to their routine, at least until digestion improves. I love Bio Enzymes from Genestra as they taste great for kids, but work great as well !
Tip 2) Try to get your child to have 1 pureed meal/day! No matter what age your child is, a smoothie for breakfast or soup for lunch are the PERFECT way to get nutrients in their body that are “pre-chewed” and therefore soothing to the digestive tract. If your child is very picky, a smoothie will be your best bet! You can add spinach to a chocolate banana smoothie or frozen cauliflower or zucchini to a strawberry banana smoothie without them tasting it! My favourite smoothie combo for kids is:
- -half a frozen banana
- -1/2 cup spinach
- -1 tbs hemp hearts
- -½ tbs cocoa powder
- -1 medjool date
- -1 heaping scoop of collagen
- *Blend on high until smooth and creamy!*
Tip 3) Soluble fiber! Kids do NOT get enough fiber in their diets and as a result, food gets stuck in their colon and causes indigestion, gas/bloating, foul smelling stools and gas and abdominal pain. Fiber is needed to bind to toxins and eliminate old food stuffs left behind. These foods sit around in the GI tract and putrefy releasing lots of toxins and become a fuel source for bad bacteria. Get that stuff out with 1 tbs of chia seeds or ground flax seeds daily! You can add it to their smoothies baked goods (oatmeal raisin cookies), etc.
Tip 4) Liquid Chlorophyll ! Another nutrient children do not get enough of is chlorophyll from green vegetables. This stuff is powerful for binding to toxins in the colon and the blood and for detoxing the liver. I like giving mint flavoured chlorophyll to my kids first thing in the morning with some water. It tastes delicious and is SO nourishing and GREAT for improving their digestion. Your kids might think drinking “green” water is fun and won’t notice the taste because it tastes slightly minty and that’s it !
Tip 5) L-glutamine is a GREAT amino acid to give to your children. L-glutamine is the main protein used by the cells in our gut to rebuild themselves. It is SO soothing and reduces inflammation in the gut. This is great to rebuild their gut lining and reduce inflammation that occurs from them eating too quick, not chewing well or eating the wrong foods. I give my kids 5g per day! You can add it to a smoothie or some water or even coconut water. It’s flavourless !
Tip 6) My last tip but certainly not least is Probiotics Probiotics Probiotics ! Kids (and adults) do not get enough good bacteria in their guts because they don’t consume fermented foods enough, and they also aren’t playing outdoors as much as they should, thanks to TV and video games! Supplementing with a wide variety of strains at a young age is SO important for ensuring strong gut integrity as they grow. I give my young toddlers the Genestra infant probiotic which gives strains they should get from mothers breastmilk. I give my older son (5 year old) a multi strain from Genestra that contains 16 different strains. Protect and strengthen their guts now, so that they can live a healthy and happy life in the future !
Remember, your children’s health lies in your hands and you’re doing an amazing job! Keep up the great work and take it 1 step at a time! Small changes will go a LONG way!
Written by: Marla Pietruszko BSc RHN