Digestive symptoms such as bloating, flatulence, diarrhea, constipation, and trouble sleeping are commonly experienced by adults and children, however they typically get brushed off as being “normal” or that they will just go away. We are here to tell you that these digestive problems aren’t normal, especially if you seem to always have the symptoms listed above.
The human body is made up of trillions of microbes and bacteria with the majority living in our digestive system. They fulfill many crucial functions that we cannot live without. A healthy microbiome is a very adaptable environment when exposed to toxins or unfriendly bacteria. The gut flora can be divided into three groups:
Essential or “friendly” bacteria – this bacteria is the most important group and greatest in the population. The main ones are: Bifidobacteria, Lactobacteria, Propionibacteria, physiological strains of E.coli, Peptostreptococci and Enterocci.
Opportunistic bacteria – In a healthy person, this group is normally limited in numbers and are controlled by the friendly bacteria above. This group of bacteria varies greatly but can include: Bacteroids, Peptococci, Staphylococci, Streptococci, Bacilli, Clostridia, Yeasts, Enterobacteria, Catenobacteria among others. If these get out of control, they may cause various health problems.
Transitional bacteria – In a healthy individual this group of bacteria goes through the digestive tract without causing harm. However, if our friendly bacteria is compromised, this bacteria can contribute to disease.
Micro-organisms, chemicals and toxins make their way into our digestive system everyday through the foods we consume. Our intestines have a protective lining so that these organisms don’t pass through, however when the good bacteria is decreased and damage they don’t do their job as well as they should thus our gut isn’t protected. Without this protection foreign invaders decrease the gut wall and damage the delicate gut flora.
When this imbalance occurs, the opportunistic bacteria can over populate causing trouble in our gut. This allows transitional flora to enter the body causing problems like gut infections, inflammation, decreased nutrient absorption and malnourishment.
When looking at children with digestive problems, many problems start around the time of weaning when mothers replace breast milk with formula or introduce certain foods such as gluten, enzymatically hydrolyzed reduced minerals, whey protein concentrate, palm olein, soy, coconut, high-oleic safflower oils, lactose etc.
Many times parents will tell you these problems are “normal for the baby” and that they will “grow out of it.” And while this may be true to some degree, it doesn’t have to be this way. Babies who are fed a healthy diet designed for a healthy gut do not have these problems!
The digestive system is very complex, even if a baby is fed perfectly they might still have occasional problems. Temporary problems usually aren’t something that should be worried about because they are just that, temporary. It’s problematic when the baby has symptoms after every feeding for a few weeks, steps should be taken to correct the issue rather than waiting a few months for it to just go away.
You may be wondering how to fix this problem.
While the baby is young, it is the perfect time to alter build their diet. We’re not talking about a calorie restrictive diet or something short term. A healthy diet is something that is maintained to achieve better overall long-term health. It is a lifestyle not something you do until you stop seeing the problem. It’s a daily routine. Diets seem complicated but with a little planning they don’t have to be. Take it one step at a time, gradually take out the problematic foods such as gluten and then dairy. Begin reading all of the food labels when you are at the grocery store. Do your best to avoid foods that contain gluten, casein and high fructose corn syrup. Work at cutting out all processed foods within a few months, you will slowly start to learn how to cook with fresh ingredients, your food will taste better. Again this is a lifestyle change and it is hard, but the benefits greatly out weight the trouble.
It may be even more difficult with children, but it only takes those first few years, some patience and consistency to lay a strong foundation. Start by removing all cereals from their diet and then casein, eventually eliminating all processed foods. It takes time to become healthier just as it takes time to get sick, it may take up to a year to start seeing noticeable changes.
“All Diseases Begin in the Gut” – Hippocrates