Have you ever tried to explain to a child how their gut microbiome works and impacts their health?
Here at Kids Cook Real Food, I’m a huge proponent of teaching our kids about their food: how it affects them, where it comes from, how to make it, what different nutrients do, all the things!
Joining me today is Sarah Morgan who has written a fantastic book to teach even very young children how they can take care of the “buddies” in their bellies to support their overall health.
Sarah and I talk about:
- Each of the probiotic “buddies” and what they do in the body
- Practical things we can DO to improve our kids’ gut health
- Whether or not kids need to take a probiotic supplement
- How the “buddies” can get kids in the kitchen
This is such a cute way to teach your kids more about their health in a way that’s engaging and memorable. I hope you feel better equipped to teach your kids about their gut microbiome after listening in to this interview!
No time to watch the whole video? Here are the notes!
Gut Health for Kids Video Time Stamps
- 0:35: Sarah Morgan is known as “the Gene Queen.” She is a nutritionist and educates her audience on health and nutrition, especially gut health, to all ages in a super accessible manner.
- 0:58: Sarah shares how she got started in health. Since childhood, she was fascinated by the human body and went the traditional track towards med school before changing courses.
- 3:23: Sarah has founded Buddies in my Belly. She wanted to translate her knowledge of gut health into a format kids could understand. And it’s not only for kids! 😉 If you don’t have a science background it can be a memorable way for adults to learn as well!
Benefits of a Healthy Gut Microbiome
- 6:41: Sarah explains how the microbiome works. Think of your microbiome as an organ that has its own function just like your brain or heart.
- 7:13: We get our first baby buddies when we’re born. As we mature throughout childhood our buddies mature with us and train the immune system to respond properly.
- 8:42: We spend $100 billion a year on digestive problems in the US! 😮 Our buddies are huge players in digestive health. They assist in motility, create enzymes, B vitamins, vitamin K, help digest our food, and reduce allergies.
- 9:50: There’s a freeway system between our gut and our brain. Ever experienced the “nervous poops?” That is your brain affecting your gut, but it goes the other way as well. Bifidobacterium (Biffie) creates neurotransmitters like GABA which helps keep us calm, cool and collected. An unbalanced microbiome can lead to depression, insomnia, and anxiety.
The balance of our microbiome impacts our entire body. -Sarah Morgan
- 11:05: Some strains of bacteria have been shown to reduce cholesterol and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Everything is interconnected and the buddies are at the center of it all. -Sarah Morgan
- 11:45: Even our weight and metabolism are impacted by our buddies! Sarah tells about a mouse study looking at gut health and weight.
- 12:40: We don’t only have a microbiome in our guts. We have microbiomes all over our bodies! Our skin, eyes, lungs, even our breasts have their own microbiomes!
- 13:11: We would never take an “anti-heart” or “anti-lung” medicine, yet we take antibiotics that kill our microbiome.
Improving Kids’ Gut Health
- 13:39: So what can we DO, especially as busy parents, to foster good gut health for kids?
There is always hope! You can change your buddies in as short as 24 hours! -Sarah Morgan
- 14:43: Eating a lot of sugar, for example, can beat up the buddies. You’ve probably heard that sugar depresses the immune system. It all goes back to the buddies!
- 15:08: Bacteria replicate and grow very quickly so they heavily depend on what we’re feeding them every day.
Your buddies are your best friends for life! -Sarah Morgan
- 15:38: It’s not just about diet, you need to consider your buddies when making lifestyle choices as well.
- 16:25: A whole food diet is best for the buddies. Prebiotics are “food for the buddies.” They include foods rich in fiber or polyphenols. A variety of colorful vegetables will feed your gut well. Probiotics are the actual friendly bacteria.
- 7:20: Postbiotics are the substances the buddies make (vitamins, neurotransmitters, etc). They are very active making things to keep your body running smoothly.
When we have good probiotics we’re changing all these signals that happen in the body in a positive way. -Sarah Morgan
- 18:20: We want to get 25 different species of plant food each week. How many of you are getting that? It seems like a lot but when you consider that nuts, seeds, beans and whole grains all count, 25 doesn’t seem so high. Sarah gives some examples to inspire us.
Start small. Choose one new vegetable, take it home and figure out how to use it. -Sarah Morgan
- 20:46: The better your buddies are doing, the more likely you are to be able to tolerate a wide variety of foods. Certain strains of lactobacillus help us digest gluten and lactose.
- 21:28: We know people who sleep well have better buddies.
- 22:06: We discuss food sensitivities and whether or not we can reverse those. Completely reshaping the buddies and healing your gut microbiome can take a while if you were already to the point of having a food sensitivity.
- 23:41: The buddies get thirsty too! Chlorinating our water kills the bad germs, but it also kills the buddies. Filtering or purifying your water is an easy way to improve your water quality.
- 24:38: As humans, we are meant to move. It doesn’t have to be intense exercise, but taking walks and getting outside are great ways to support our buddies.
- 25:01: Stress has a negative impact on our gut health. Think about stressors your kids may be experiencing. Stress can come from our minds or emotions but also physical things like lack of sleep, a poor diet, an injury, chemical exposures, and medications.
- 26:08: It takes about a year to reestablish your gut health after a course of antibiotics. There are times when antibiotics are necessary, but we overprescribe them.
- 26:38: Steroids and reflux medications are also commonly prescribed for children. Reflux medications are only meant to be taken for 14 days and they shift the ph of the GI tract to make it less hospitable to the buddies.
Do Kids Need a Probiotic Supplement?
- 28:04: If we’re looking to improve our kids’ gut health is food or a supplement more important?
- 29:04: Fermented foods should be the first step when trying to populate the good bacteria in your gut. Sometimes a probiotic supplement is also necessary.
- 29:43: Research shows that the most important time to use probiotics and prebiotics as a supplement is in childhood. Sarh shares some interesting information on how a baby’s birth impacts their gut microbiome and even the contents of the mother’s breastmilk!
- 31:19: A child who has just had antibiotics or active GI issues should definitely be on a probiotic supplement.
- 32:32: At our house, we just rotate probiotics, but we’re not super intentional about checking which kids might need more of specific strains.
- 33:05: Sarah shares a point to consider when picking a probiotic. You might be using something that’s counteracting itself!
- 33:58: If we want our kids to get 25 different types of plant foods a week, it’s important to get them connected to their food and in the kitchen learning how to cook.
- 34:45: We leave you with a message of hope.
Here at Kids Cook Real Food we teach connection, confidence and creativity in the kitchen. I hope that Sarah helped you connect with your buddies, have confidence in supporting your health through your food and I hope you enjoyed how creative she is!
Resources We Mention for Kids’ Gut Health
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Sarah Morgan is known as “the Gene Queen” and her master’s in nutrition has been put to good use in formulating a fabulous probiotic for children – but that’s not all. She may as well have a degree in education with the way she can explain health and nutrition – and especially the gut – to anyone of any age in a super accessible manner!
Find Sarah’s website here. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram as @buddiesinmybelly and @the_gene_queen.