We’re bracing for an early onset of the cold and flu season this year and Remedy Drinks Nutritionist Jacqueline Alwill is here to help with some hot tips on how to boost your family’s gut microbiome and immunity this winter.
“Your ‘gut microbiome’ is made up of the trillions of microorganisms that live in your intestine. These microorganisms, mainly made up of bacteria, play a key role in digesting the food you eat, helping you to absorb and synthesize nutrients,” Jacqueline explains.
“But these little critters are even more amazing because they also play a key role in processes extending beyond our gut including our metabolism, immune function as well as our brain and mood.”
“There are many different factors that influence the type and amount of bacteria we have in our gut and diet is one of the key ways we can ensure our microbiome is balanced, active and healthy to ensure our immune function is working as well as it can especially as we head into winter. An imbalance of bad gut bacteria essentially confuses the immune system meaning it won’t correctly identify and fight the bads guys like cold and flu when they arrive.”
“For kids, this is especially important. They actually inherit our microbiome at birth and the first four to five years of life is when their microbiomes are really getting established so fostering a healthy gut foundation now will set them up for life,” explains Jacqueline.
Boosting and supporting your microbiome doesn’t have to be a chore. There are simple and easy ways to give your gut health a boost:
1: Mix it up! Variety is the spice of life.
Maybe your kid went through a ‘white food’ only phase? I hear you. But there are ways to ensure your child still eats a variety of foods. The more diverse their diet, the better their microbiome. A mix of raw and cooked foods is ideal, so try a raw rainbow salad plate, a big bowl of veggie soup (try cauliflower soup. if they’re still in that white food phase), a handful of trail mix, or veggies with hummus.
2: Introduce some easy fermented foods to boost beneficial bacteria
Not sure whether your kids will give fermented foods a go? There are plenty of ‘gateway’ fermented options to try: pickles in a burger, miso soup (or maybe my miso caramel banana muffins), kefir, a kombucha spider made with a kid-friendly raspberry lemonade flavour and ice cream, even good old Greek yoghurt is a winner for upping beneficial bacteria. For the more adventurous you could try a baked sweet potato topped with kimchi and grated cheese. Fermented foods are a great source of probiotics.
3: Pump up the prebiotics
You’ve heard about probiotics but PREbiotics are just as important. Think of prebiotics as the food your good gut bacteria needs to thrive. Plant-based and wholegrain foods are your best source including bananas, watermelon, nectarines, white peaches, onion, garlic, leek, asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, snow pea and green peas. Legumes are also great so aim to incorporate chickpeas, red kidney beans, lentils and nuts and seeds in meals. Try a Mexican night with my Bean Chilli served with either potatoes or wraps.
4. Get dirty
You read that right - get outside and enjoy life outdoors. Outdoor play is vital for a healthy microbiome so whether it’s a bush walk, playground hangs, a game of organised sport or a ride around your neighbourhood make sure you get out and about. Better still, let your child get dirty and play with soil, as soil and plants house trillions of microorganisms. This can help build their immune system so they can fight any germs that come their way.