Gut health has been discussed at great length because of its significance in balancing the rest of the body, but what about children’s gut health?
One of the keys to maintaining good gut health is nutrition. A healthy diet can support good gut health, which can further lead to protecting the child from other health issues that may arise if gut health isn’t optimal.
“Great gut health is essential for children,” prenatal and postnatal dietitian Melanie McGrice at melaniemcgrice.com says, adding that the gut microbiota is established in the early stages of life.
“The gut is where most nutrients are absorbed, so good gut health can contribute to optimal nutrient absorption,” she adds.
Parents can face a range of challenges when it comes to feeding their kids, such as picky eaters, allergies, and acquiring the knowledge of what’s good and bad, overall, for their children’s diets.
Despite these challenges, though, it’s crucial that children start eating well early to maintain good gut health.
Ms McGrice says health issues that can arise from poor gut health including constipation and diarrhoea, which “lead to embarrassment and toileting issues for children”, and the impact of gut health on the gut microbiota, which in turn impacts the gut-brain axis to influence “mental health, immunity and learning abilities”.
Pharmacist proprietor Jana Pratico says the cause of “poorer” gut health in some children can be nutritional issues such as absorption and specific nutrient deficiency problems, or simply a lower quality diet.
“Consequently, having a less diverse gut microbiome can predispose children to future absorptive or nutritional issues, as well as autoimmune and inflammatory disorders,” she says.
Solutions available in retail pharmacy
In pharmacy, there are many different products available that target children and gut health.
However, before starting on various supplements and medication, the firs important step is to ensure that a child’s diet is varied and meets their individual requirements.
“As health professionals, it’s our role to educate parents that unless their child has a pre-existing, medically diagnosed condition, which means their diet should be altered, children should be offered a variety of foods to ensure they’re getting the most out of their diet and reducing their need for supplements,” says Ms Pratico.
She adds that resources are available that parents can turn to for further advice when it comes to their children’s nutrition and gut health.
“When asked about what types of foods to offer children, we direct parents to reputable government made resources, such as the Dietitians Australia website,” she explains.
Ms McGrice also suggests a reliable resource: “If a parent is trialling a new diet for their child, it’s essential that they ensure that the diet meets the requirements of the five core food groups and Australian Dietary Guidelines.”
With the appropriate diet, children can maintain a healthy gut from the early stages of life, which may help to prevent future health issues.
To find out about what health issues may arise from a child having poor gut health make sure you read the full article in this month’s issue of Retail Pharmacy magazine, available now!