The health of your gastrointestinal system (or “gut”) is the single most important factor in the overall well-being of you and your children. Your gut is responsible not only for digestive functions, but also affects vitamin and mineral absorption, vitamin production, hormone regulation, immune response, and the elimination of toxins. Poor gut health is also linked to mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety.
Chronic health conditions are now common
First a couple of facts and figures:
What’s behind this epidemic?
What’s going on? Our world has become much more toxic and our guts unhealthy as a result. About 80% of the body’s immune system is located in the gut, which is populated by a complex community of about 100 trillion microorganisms. When the gut microbiome is destroyed, the immune system is severely compromised.
Poor diet, chronic stress and toxic overload can result in a condition known as Leaky Gut Syndrome (or intestinal permeability). Leaky gut occurs when tight cell junctions in the gut begin to “leak” as a result of damage to the gut lining. This allows substances to seep into the bloodstream, causing the body to mount an immune response that can lead to conditions such as:
One of the significant factors in gut health is the heavy use of glyphosate (RoundUp) on crops. “Glyphosate use in the agricultural sector rose 300-fold from 1974 to 2014 (0.36–113.4 million kg; 0.8–250 million pounds).” Glyphosate has been designated by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a probable carcinogen and is known to disrupt the balance of gut bacteria and encourage the growth of harmful bacteria. Did you know that most wheat grown in the U.S. is sprayed with glyphosate about a week before harvest? The glyphosate triggers seed release as the wheat is dying, which leads to a greater yield at harvest. And leads to serious health issues in our children. Food activist Robin O’Brien often asks “Are we allergic to food, or to what’s been done to it?”
What’s your child’s exposure?
Consider your child’s diet:
It can sometimes take years of poor eating and toxic exposure for symptoms of a damaged gut to appear in adults. But children are at a greater risk from these environmental toxins. Kids are not just little adults. The WHO has said that “Due to their dynamic developmental physiology children are often subjected to higher exposures to pollutants found in air, water and food. These exposures may be handled quite differently by an immature set of systems to the way they are dealt with in adults.”
In children, poor gut health can start in infancy. A 2014 study on autoimmunity and the gut stated “Bacterial colonization during and shortly after birth plays a major role in the formation of gut microbiota. Factors affecting the communities in this microbiota include premature birth, Caesarean section versus vaginal birth, breast milk versus commercial formula, and many more.” Frequent use of antibiotics in childhood can also contribute to the destruction of the gut microbiome.
How can I protect my family’s gut health?
The good news is that one of the easiest ways to affect human health is through nutrition and diet.
Gut health can be restored by:
If you or your child is dealing with poor gut health, you’re not alone. My daughter was chronically ill from leaky gut syndrome and has made a full recovery (our story here). I teach parents how to use real food to improve the health of their children and themselves, so that they can enjoy life to the fullest and not suffer from unnecessary discomfort and stress. If I can be of service to your family, please contact me at Cathy@McCannNutrition.com. Appointments are available via telephone, Skype or in person.
To receive a FREE copy of the eBook via email of "The Parent's Guide to Your Child and Gut Health: Preventing and Healing Leaky Gut," please click here.
Cathy McCann, CNTP
Quick breakfast options may not be something you're thinking a lot about right now. But in a few short weeks, the kids will be back in school and you'll be back to rushing around in the morning to get everyone fed. That's why summer is the perfect time to get new habits in place.
Standard quick breakfast foods like sugary cereals, bagels and (gulp!) Pop Tarts are super inflammatory and won't set your kids up for success at school. Inflammation not only causes physical symptoms such as fatigue, headaches and gastrointestinal issues, but is also linked to psychological issues such as anxiety and depression.
So what's a parent to do? Aim for a little protein, some non-inflammatory carbs (vegetable-based preferred) and lots of good fat for brain-power. Here are some suggestions for healthier (and quick) breakfast options:
Hard boiled free-range eggs
Gluten free toast with avocado or nut butter
Smoothie with Omega-3 and a veggie (spinach or kale - they won't taste it!) Video here
Overnight Chia Seed Pudding
Overnight Oats with berries
Natural turkey sausage (I recommend Applegate Organics)
I've also collected some anti-inflammatory breakfast recipes on my Plan to Eat page (link below).
Finally, I've attached a handout with more about remaking your breakfast and it includes a delicious frittata recipe for when you have more time.
Questions? email me cathy@McCannNutrition.com or give me a call at 949.229.1807.
Cathy McCann is a functional nutritionist, coach, writer, speaker and meditation teacher, who is passionate about health and guiding people through the journey of healing.