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Fermented foods are an easy and tasty way to support gut health in children, even in picky eaters! Not only are these probiotic-packed foods bursting with flavor, but they are also versatile, making them easy to incorporate into daily meals and snacks. Looking for fermented food kids love? Look no further! In fact, it is possible you already have some of these foods in your fridge.
Before getting into how to incorporate fermented foods into your kiddo’s diet, it is important to know what fermentation is. Fermentation is the chemical breakdown of a substance by bacteria or yeast and results in an increase in beneficial gut bacteria called probiotics. Probiotics are live microorganisms that boost gut diversity and help to balance out the “bad bacteria” in the gut.
Probiotics live in the digestive tract and promote healthy digestion. Incorporating even a few servings of fermented foods into your child’s daily diet encourages regular bowel movements and may help with constipation, diarrhea, and upset stomach. Fermented foods also promote immune function as they have the ability to synthesize vitamins and minerals, and even produce peptides that contain antioxidant and antimicrobial effects!
There is a lack of research for when it is a good time to start offering fermented foods to your child. Most doctors and health care practitioners are comfortable with offering small amounts once your child has begun solid foods. In fact, offering fermented foods at an early age broadens their palate and may lessen their desire to overconsume sweet foods later on. Examples of fermented foods to introduce to your child early on include buttermilk, miso, or tofu. Another option is to dip foods (or fingers) into the juice of sauerkraut to get your child accustomed to the taste.
From pickled veggies to cultured dairy products, there are many ways to include fermented foods into your child’s diet. Here are a few ideas for fermented foods kids love:
If you can add a couple servings of fermented foods into your child’s diet every day, go for it! It’s actually something you may already be doing if your child is eating yogurt or Kefir for breakfast or getting cheese for a snack.
Danielle Zold is a Registered Dietitian based out of Denver, Colorado. Danielle is owner of Bitty Bites Nutrition, LLC and specializes in pediatric nutrition and picky eating.
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