Healthy Gut, Healthy Mind: Understanding Gut-brain Connection To Function Optimally

In order for our kids to perform well in their school we arrange various ways for them to excel such as online tuition, enrichment programmes, home tuition and supplementary classes all of which definitely guide them to achieve amazing grades but all this would go to waste if children are not healthy from the inside out.

The communication between the central nervous system and gut microbiota referred to as the gut-brain axis, and this has been studied extensively to figure out the effect of gut microbiota on mental health.

healthy gut healthy mind

Research and studies have revealed that dysbiosis and inflammation of the gut have been linked to causing several mental illnesses including anxiety and depression and all this adversely affects students in this day and age; from children as young as 6 years old. The ultimate way to prevent children from falling to the hands of these illnesses, it starts from the right diet.

So, what can parents do to help their children achieve this?

TOSS THE DRUGS AWAY

It has become an immediate response for parents to grab an NSAID (Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs) or pop in antibiotics to relieve themselves or their children from pain or fever without realising that they are simply suppressing the symptoms without curing the actual problem or giving a chance for the body to fight against pathogens to build its own immunity.

use drugs to kill bacteria
Source: theconversation.com

Frequent antibiotic intake causes antibiotic resistance and it also destroys the healthy bacteria in the gut. NSAIDs (they are also called over-the-counter-drugs) on the other hand has the ability to modify the composition of the gut microbiota and induce mainly the overgrowth of Gram-negative and anaerobic bacterial species, which, increases the susceptibility to intestinal damage.

So, give your children’s body the chance to heal itself and build its own immunity. Adequate sleep and some warm soup with some patience is enough to cure fever in a week.

PROBIOTICS AND PREBIOTICS

Early nutrition appears to play a role in shaping the developing gut microbiota as studies found that breastfeeding was directly correlated with the levels of immunoglobulins in the body and healthy bacteria in the gut. So, it’s best for mothers to continue breastfeeding for as long as possible.

healthy probiotic food
Source: healthline.com

Probiotics are living microorganisms, typically yeasts and bacteria (prebiotics are the are a source of food for these microbiomes) which enables effective conversion of dietary metabolites into nutrients and plays a critical role in building our immunity.

Some food that you can include in your children’s diet are:

  • Yoghurt/home-made curd/ traditional buttermilk
  • Tempeh
  • Kimchi (in moderate amounts as seasonings aren’t all that healthy)
  • Home-made pickles (store-bought ones have preservatives in them)

Prebiotics are largely found in fibre-rich food like all fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

LOTS OF FIBRE

Fibre has become the most neglected part of diet for children these days as they prefer meat and fast food over hearty vegetable soups and vegetable stir-fries. Due to such an unhealthy dietary habit, children suffer from chronic constipation since a very young age and this will lead to more serious conditions in the long run.

healthy food
Source: healthhub.sg

The more long-standing that food remains in the gut, the more time it gets to putrefy and release toxins in the body system. High fibre content gives bulk to the stool, enhances gut motility and hence prevents constipation, it facilitates weight loss, promotes insulin sensitivity and reduces risk of chronic illnesses.

So, parents need to take the extra effort to inculcate healthy eating habits in children and introduce a high-fibre diet from a very young age.

BOTTOM LINE

The progress of your child is not solely dependent on studying all day and scoring well on tests.

Singapore school kids
Source: shutterstock.com

 A healthy body enables the mind to function with utmost clarity and that is what enables children to be critical thinkers. It’s parent’s responsibility to make some positive changes in the lifestyle of their children as soon as possible.