Feeding our Gut Bugs

Miss Caitlin Anderson – Wellbeing Health Promotion Officer

By the age of four, our gut microbiome is well established.

Located within the gastrointestinal tract, it is made up of trillions of microbes including bacteria, protozoa, fungi and viruses. Colonisation of these microbes begins in utero, and is influenced by a number of environmental factors (maternal diet, birth delivery and feeding, etc.) – many of which are outside of our control.

What we can control however, is our diet. We know that food plays a critical role in fueling our gut bugs, subsequently influencing the balance between good and bad bacteria in our gut. New research suggests that certain foods can modify our microbiome within an hour of consumption, highlighting the power of our daily food choices. Further, those who consume a diet high in artificial sugars, processed meats, and trans fats, are more likely to fuel a state of dysbiosis, where the ratio of ‘bad’ bacteria is higher than the ‘good’, subsequently placing us at a greater risk of developing metabolic and immune-related disorders such as obesity, diabetes and asthma.

Here at TSS, we promote the importance of eating a variety of fibre-rich plant foods to fuel our gut microbiota. Fibre is found in wholegrains, legumes, fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds. By including at least thirty plant foods per week, we can promote a diverse microbiota, which can improve and/or prevent: behavioural issues; mental illness (depression, anxiety); and chronic diseases (cancer, obesity, diabetes, etc.).

Here are some examples of plant foods to start adding into your son’s diet:

Wholegrains: rolled oats (Bircher, porridge), whole wheat (bread, crackers), pasta, barley, cous cous, rye, buckwheat.

Legumes: chickpeas (hummus dip), kidney beans, edamame beans, lentils (dahl), broad beans, adzuki beans, peas and peanuts.

Nuts and Seeds: almonds, walnuts, pistachios, cashews, brazil nuts, macadamias, chia seeds, pepitas/pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds/linseeds, poppy seeds.

Vegetables (Crunch&Sip): broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, carrot, capsicum, silverbeet, eggplant, beetroot, sweet potato, pumpkin, potato, onion, garlic, Jerusalem artichoke, celery, green beans, snow peas, Brussel sprouts, cabbage (sauerkraut), radish, spinach, lettuce, zucchini, leek, mushroom, corn cobs, shallots.

Fruit (Crunch&Sip): strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, kiwi, peach, plum, nectarine, mango, pineapple, rockmelon, grapefruit, orange, mandarin, apple, pear, banana, watermelon, lychee, avocado, olives, tomato, cucumber.

Remember, every little bit counts. Kids are fussy when they’re young, it is very normal as they navigate their taste preferences, but persistence is key. Continue exposing them to the same plant foods cooked in different ways, acknowledge and praise them when they try something new, and always include the plant foods that they enjoy.

Happy Smart Eating Week!



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