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Foods for a Family Gut Health Glow Up

Nutrition and diet choices can largely influence the integrity of the gut microbiome. A balanced gut microbiome is important for a kid’s gut health because it reduces the risk for gastrointestinal symptoms such as constipation and painful stools. A happier gut  can help build better immunity and can also support mental health [1].  Let's explore a variety of gut-friendly options that families can incorporate daily to support overall wellness through gut health. 

Colorful Vegetables and Fruits

Vegetables and fruits are not only vibrant and delicious but also packed with essential nutrients and fiber. Studies repeatedly report the significance of dietary fiber intake for maintaining a diverse gut microbiota [2].  Encouraging your family to indulge in at least five servings of different fruits and veggies daily can contribute to a thriving gut environment by feeding the gut with prebiotic fiber.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids 

Consuming foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids can help improve the integrity of the gut lining by increasing the production of short-chain fatty acids. Short-chain fatty acids contain anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce the risk for gut inflammation [4]. Sources of omega-3 fatty acids include walnuts, flaxseed, chia seeds, and low-mercury fish such as salmon, freshwater trout, and sardines. The following is the recommended daily adequate intake for omega-3 fatty acids for kids: 

Daily Adequate Intake for Omega-3 Fatty Acids 

Age Group

Daily Adequate Intake for Omega-3 Fatty Acids

0-12 months 

0.5g / day 

1-3 years 

0.7g / day 

4-8 years

0.9g / day

9-13 years 

1.2g / day 

14-18 years (female)

14-18 years (male)

1.1g / day

1.6g / day 

Source: The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 

Fermented Foods

Fermented foods have been part of the human diet for centuries and have been associated with various health benefits including longevity, reduced risk of metabolic and immune-mediated disease and overall health [7]. Naturally fermented foods such as kefir or kimchi naturally contain beneficial bacteria such as lactobacillus that can help with immunity and support digestion [5]. 

Root Vegetables: Sweet Potatoes and Beets

Incorporating root vegetables such as sweet potatoes and beets into meals can be an easy, gut-friendly boost that the whole family will enjoy. Consuming fiber from root vegetables like sweet potatoes can promote a healthy gut microbiome profile by increasing good gut bacteria such asbifidobacteria and lactobacillus [6]. Studies have also found that bacteria from root vegetables can potentially degrade gluten, which may help those struggling with gluten related diseases [8]. 

Herbs and Spices

Herbs and spices are not just flavor enhancers and naturally sodium-free, but also potential allies for gut health. Studies find that they are potential promoters of a healthy gut. Herbs can stimulate the beneficial gut bacteria during fermentation, increasing the production of short chain fatty acids, providing a prebiotic effect [9]. Herb and spice consumption can also possibly play an important role in inflammation related afflictions such as obesity. 

Summary

By embracing gut-friendly foods such as colorful fruits and vegetables, salmon, fermented foods, and herbs/spices in your family's daily meals, you're not just adding flavor; you're nurturing a healthier gut environment that supports their overall well-being. Remember, variety and enjoyment are key in creating a diverse and flourishing gut microbiome for the whole family.

References

[1]Carabotti M, Scirocco A, Maselli MA, Severi C. The gut-brain axis: interactions between enteric microbiota, central and enteric nervous systems. Ann Gastroenterol. 2015 Apr-Jun;28(2):203-209. PMID: 25830558; PMCID: PMC4367209.

[2] Laitinen K, Mokkala K. Overall Dietary Quality Relates to Gut Microbiota Diversity and Abundance. Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Apr 13;20(8):1835. doi: 10.3390/ijms20081835. PMID: 31013927; PMCID: PMC6515207.

[3] Zhang P. Influence of Foods and Nutrition on the Gut Microbiome and Implications for Intestinal Health. Int J Mol Sci. 2022 Aug 24;23(17):9588. doi: 10.3390/ijms23179588. PMID: 36076980; PMCID: PMC9455721.

[4] Costantini L, Molinari R, Farinon B, Merendino N. Impact of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on the Gut Microbiota. Int J Mol Sci. 2017 Dec 7;18(12):2645. doi: 10.3390/ijms18122645. PMID: 29215589; PMCID: PMC5751248.

[5] Leeuwendaal NK, Stanton C, O'Toole PW, Beresford TP. Fermented Foods, Health and the Gut Microbiome. Nutrients. 2022 Apr 6;14(7):1527. doi: 10.3390/nu14071527. PMID: 35406140; PMCID: PMC9003261.

[6] Liu M , Li X , Zhou S , Wang TTY , Zhou S , Yang K , Li Y , Tian J , Wang J . Dietary fiber isolated from sweet potato residues promotes a healthy gut microbiome profile. Food Funct. 2020 Jan 29;11(1):689-699. doi: 10.1039/c9fo01009b. PMID: 31909777.

[7] Thriene, K., Hansen, S. S., Binder, N., & Michels, K. B. (2022). Effects of fermented vegetable consumption on Human Gut Microbiome Diversity—A Pilot Study. Fermentation, 8(3), 118.https://doi.org/10.3390/fermentation8030118

[8] Kõiv V, Adamberg K, Adamberg S, Sumeri I, Kasvandik S, Kisand V, Maiväli Ü, Tenson T. Microbiome of root vegetables-a source of gluten-degrading bacteria. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2020 Oct;104(20):8871-8885. doi: 10.1007/s00253-020-10852-0. Epub 2020 Sep 2. PMID: 32875365; PMCID: PMC7502452.

[9] Dahl SM, Rolfe V, Walton GE, Gibson GR. Gut microbial modulation by culinary herbs and spices. Food Chem. 2023 May 30;409:135286. doi: 10.1016/j.foodchem.2022.135286. Epub 2022 Dec 23. PMID: 36599291.

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