Probiotics and Fussy Eating?

Is your child a fussy or picky eater? Have you ever thought about how his or her gut bacteria may be affecting their eating habits? I find that parents often underestimate the importance of what we now term the ‘microbiome’. In fact to put some numbers to it (I find that helps when trying convey how big something is) our digestive tracts play host to between 1.5kg and 2.5kg of microbes (bacteria and fungi). Just think about that for a moment. That’s huge. In fact we have 10 times as many microbes living in our bodies as we have human cells. What we are increasingly aware of, thanks to the advances of science, is just how helpful these bacteria can be if they are all present and all working well. If, however, they are not all present and perhaps other less efficient microbes have taken their place then things may need sorting out. That’s where supplementary probiotics come in.

Probiotics Do Many Jobs

Our natural probiotics are meant to tell the immune system to differentiate between harmful and helpful particles entering the body. They can then help the immune system by fighting off unwanted bacteria, fungi or viruses.

They have other jobs too such as helping us to digest food, regulating the rate at which we metabolise or break down our food and helping to control our appetite.

In fact there are new areas of research showing a link between an imbalance of gut bacteria and many health conditions not associated directly with the gut such as mental health disorders – anxiety, depression, OCD as well as allergies, autoimmune health issues and autism.

Why Your Child’s Probiotics May Not Be As Nature Intended?

When your child was first born she/he picked up their first bacteria as they passed through the birth canal. That means that babies born by C-section are less likely to have as good a balance of bacteria versus those born via vaginal birth.

Furthermore, breastfeeding plays a part. Breastmilk helps contribute to a good balance of probiotics.

If your child has been exposed to quite a few rounds of antibiotics then this doesn’t help his/her probiotic balance either. Antibiotics are excellent at killing disease-causing bacteria, but they also kill many of the good bacteria at the same time.

As we are now realizing, thanks to all the media coverage recently, anti-bacterial products (such as soaps) can also harm the healthy microbes in our bodies.

How Gut Bacteria and Fussy Eating are Linked?

Although there can be a multitude of reasons for a child becoming a fussy eater including their innate personality, sensory issues, psychological aversions and bad habits, there is an increasing body of evidence pointing towards gut health as a cause.

What we know now is that there is a very strong connection between the gut and the brain. This is called the gut-brain axis. Furthermore, the bacteria living in our guts eat what we eat.

It is thought that certain microbes (bacteria and fungi) ‘crave’ particular kinds of food and can communicate this with the brain. This leads the host (person) to make food choices that are influenced by the cravings of the microbes.

The most common kind of craving for children with bacteria that are out of balance is for refined carbohydrates such as white bread, cakes, biscuits and sweets. These break down very quickly and easily into a source of energy for those unwelcome microbes in the gut.

Increasing the number of probiotics through supplementation may well broaden the range of foods fussy eating children are willing to try. A better balance of bacteria may lessen unwanted food cravings. Appetites may also return but for a wider range of foods. This makes sense as probiotics help to digest food. I highly recommend the probiotics by Bioglan. What I love about these products is that they have clearly thought about the fact that if a fussy eater won’t eat his or her greens they are unlikely to swallow a pill. The products include:

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strawberry flavoured yogurt balls and a chocolate flavoured superfood shake.

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I will say that there is a small amount of sugar in the YOG-A-LICIOUS balls i.e. about 1/4 of a tsp, however the benefit of these probiotics should mean less sugars in the diet. Once they are happy taking these and as they grow you may find they move on to more adult and less sweet tasting probiotics. Bioglan have a full range.

If you want to try some other ways to encourage your child to eat a wider range of foods then try these things too:

  1. Try not to give your child’s fussy eating too much attention. This can actually reemphasize the problem and help the child to ‘own their status’.
  2. Try different ways of serving food. If they don’t like avocado then try putting it into a smoothie where it will make a creamier texture than a normal smoothie but won’t taste of avocado.
  3. Get your children involved in meal preparation that is age-appropriate. Chopping or washing vegetables can often lead to familiarity and then the willingness to try.
  4. Explain why foods are tasty and delicious from your own perspective. Don’t ever use the line “it’s so good for you”!

Note: I have received free products from Bioglan in order to review. I really like the appearance and flavour but also the fact that these are supplements that you can get your children to take. I have not received any money for this review.