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Hi everyone and welcome to the Monday Blogs again! We got a bit distracted there with all the new therapists that have come on board but I am on track again to blog every Monday. You may be interested to know that I am doing a Paediatric Masterclass seminar series as part of my post-grad education and it’s fascinating. Seeing so many children as patients has made me want to learn more and find out the newest research on treatment options for my little patients. The last seminar was “Gastrointestinal conditions and a healthy gut”. Did you know that adults have 10 times the amount bacteria in the gut than cells in the human body with over 1000 different species weighing 1 – 1 ½ kg where as children have only 10 species until they reach 2 when it starts to grow more adult like. The bacteria “organism” which acts like an organ actually rivals the liver with the amount of biochemical reactions it participates in!

What does it do for us?

  • Modulates the immune system & protects against allergy
  • Improves gut motility (protects from constipation/diarrhea)
  • Improves our nutritional status: important for vitamin B, K, the minerals: calcium, zinc, magnesium and/or their production or absorption
  • Energy salvaging from food
  • Detoxifies
  • Reduces colonisation of bad bacteria
  • Produces beneficial compounds
  • Weight management (studies show dysbiosis is present in obesity)
  • Mood Management

A child’s microbiota or gut bacteria is very fragile and early antibiotic (AB) use can have significant implications and is associated with increased risk of: asthma, obesity, IBS & allergic rhinitis (hay fever: references supplied). IN FACT changes can last up to 18 months after AB use, with studies showing changes in antibiotic resistant micro-organisms for up to 4 years post treatment with antibiotics. Some organisms in a child’s gut never recover.
So how can we nurture and protect the developing GIT macrobiota? We can do this by encouraging our children to eat foods which will nourish the good bugs and avoiding things that will damage them. Foods that nourish include fruits and vegetables high in polyphenols like berries (blueberries, blackberries, black currants, strawberries,raspberries, black elderberries) plums, red apples, black grapes, cherries and purple vegetables (purple carrots, red carrots, purple/red potatoes,red cabbage, red onions, red lettuce) plus spinach and brocolli. Seeing a trend here? Also red rice, black rice, wholegrain rye bread, black olives, Olive oil AND nuts and seeds (flaxseeds, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts), Whole plant foods like wholegrain oats and brown rice & legumes also have important nourishing properties. Prebiotic rich foods are also high in things called fructooligosaccharides/inulin (FOS) and galactans (GOS)and feed the good bacteria and include: onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, artichokes, legumes, brassica veggies, beans, beetroot.

Factors that negatively impact microbiota (and some cannot be avoided)

  • Caesarian birth
  • Formula as opposed to breast-milk
  • Antibiotics
  • Stress
  • Dietary factors: sulphates, high animal protein diets, high refined carb diets, high fat diets

What about fermented foods?

Well they are beneficial but you cannot reinoculate or repopulate the human GIT with exogenously supplied bacteria (bacteria from outside the body) and consumption only leads to a temporary increase in beneficial bug counts. Which is good if you are trying to avoid AB gut damage, heal the gut wall, reduce diarrhoea, reduce sick days, improve eczema or other symptoms. But every human being has its own special blend of bacteria and even though you will not be able to repopulate yours with a bacteria probiotic bought from your Naturopath you may be able to get your own special blend to grow back with the help of probiotics (which will reduce the bad bacteria) and prebiotic foods.
Stay tuned next week for more information on how to deal with childhood diarrhoea and constipation.
Have a great week and enjoy the Tuesday weather…We are going to look for some whales!
Fin Mackenzie
BHlthSc(CompMed), AdvDipNat, DNut, DRM, MATMS
Naturopath & Director

PS have a peek at our new look website and all our new (AND OLD) therapists!

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