INSIDE RADY CHILDREN’S
Gut Check Gut health is a hot topic in medicine at the moment, including pediatrics NUTRITION
and healthy fats and eschew ultra-processed foods. Though few clinical trials of dietary interventions have been done in children, plant-based and Mediterranean diets tend to promote a more diverse gut microbiome and contribute to regulating the immune system.
esearchers from Rady Children’s are working to understand how bacteria and other microbes in the gut impact health, influence mood and even contribute to acne. They’re also looking into which foods and eating
patterns affect gut health in children. Rob Knight, PhD, the Wolfe Family Endowed Chair in Microbiome Research at Rady Children’s, says there’s likely no one food item that can single-handedly change gut health in children, and it’s far more important to address overall diet. “There are probably no quick fixes that can be obtained by adding or removing a single ingredient, at least for most children,” Dr. Knight says. There are some exceptions, though, such as introducing peanuts and other nuts early to reduce allergy risk and giving dairy to young children to encourage the growth of beneficial Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium bacteria. Research has shown that dietary patterns that benefit kids’ gut health are unsurprisingly the same ones that benefit
However, you can’t change your child’s microbiome overnight. Real change can take months, even years. The same healthy diet won’t produce the same results for every kid, and it may take a while to catch on if your child’s a picky eater. “You have to try each new food with a child 10 to 20 times before they will accept it,” Dr. Knight says. “This stresses the importance of not giving up if your child is a picky eater, but trying over and over again to help them develop a better dietary pattern.” Also, be wary of probiotics, Dr. Knight says. Probiotics are considered supplements, not drugs, and don’t face the same stringent regulations. Manufacturers also don’t have to prove that their probiotic provides a benefit.
YOU CAN’T CHANGE YOUR CHILD’S MICROBIOME OVERNIGHT. REAL CHANGE CAN TAKE MONTHS, EVEN YEARS. ROB KNIGHT, PHD, THE WOLFE FAMILY ENDOWED CHAIR IN MICROBIOME RESEARCH AT RADY CHILDREN’S
“There is a lot of public enthusiasm for probiotics, but there is very little positive evidence backing their use, especially in healthy children,” he says.
adults—plant-based diets (especially those that include a variety of fruits and vegetables) and Mediterranean-style diets that emphasize fish, whole grains, fruits and vegetables
28 HEALTHY KIDS MAGAZINE FALL 2023
Made with FlippingBook Online newsletter maker