• Lydia Phua

Raising Cultured Children

Monday, March 12, 2018 - Lydia Phua, thatswholesome.com

Ballet, French and piano lessons are all quite a common extra activity that revolves around the daily routine of our children today. It is a wonderful thing to see the little ones learn different languages and express themselves in various art forms and cultures, but the culture we are talking about here today isn’t exactly an art form or a type of foreign language.

The culture being addressed here is the kind that grows in millions or sometimes even billions, and comes in many different strains. We’re talking about the good bacteria, also known as probiotics. But do these bacteria benefit our health? Don’t bacteria spread diseases? Probiotics are good bacteria, the ‘nice guys’ that keep our gut healthy, ultimately improving our overall immune system. The Food Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and World Health Organisation (WHO) defines probiotics as live microorganisms which when administered in adequate amounts can confer health benefits to the host. This fact may make you squirm, but our gut is crawling with bacteria and the ratio between the good and bad bacteria is one of the factors that can determine our health. Having too much bad bacteria colonising your gut may lead to health issues that can put the body at risk of a more serious health condition in the future. For example, an overpopulation of bad bacteria in your gut can cause issues such as inflammation of the stomach lining, which may lead to gastritis. Consumption of probiotics is also linked to the prevention of colon cancer. (Wollowsky, 2001) One of the risk factors that is linked to colon cancer is inflammatory bowel disease, which may be prevented by incorporating probiotics in the diet.

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So consuming more probiotic rich foods can help build up the ‘army’ of good bacteria in your body that will eventually strengthen your immune system and make it more well adapted when exposed to different types of harmful bacteria. So making it a habit to include probiotics during childhood would be even more beneficial as you’re helping build that ‘army’ earlier in life. Probiotics can be found naturally in various kinds of foods. Studies have also shown that having many different strains of probiotics living in our gut is more beneficial as not one strain of bacteria does the other’s job. Below is a list of various types of foods that contain probiotics and are easily available in supermarkets.

1. Yoghurt

Yoghurt is one of the most common foods that contain good bacteria. Yoghurt can be a breakfast meal or a snack, and can be customized in many ways to suit your child’s preference. Just be cautious of added sugars in some types of yoghurts. If sugar is at the top of the list, then maybe it is more advisable to choose another product or get a plain yoghurt, where you can add your own toppings at home, such as toasted oats, honey, cinnamon, fresh fruits and even nuts.

2. Kimchi

If your child doesn’t mind spicy food, then why not give kimchi a try. A staple food in Korea, kimchi is made out of fermented vegetables, which provides a beautiful environment for some types of good bacteria to grow. Another bonus is that your child will also be getting a dose of fiber from eating kimchi. So you could add a small plate of kimchi as a side dish to go with their lunch or dinner. Just make sure it is fresh from the fridge.

3. Miso

There are many ways miso can be incorporated into your child’s daily diet. One of the most popular ways would be to make miso soup with tofu cubes and wakame, a type of seaweed. Such a simple dish like miso soup can have so many health benefits. The miso provides the probiotics while protein comes from the tofu cubes. Wakame is also a good source of fiber and vitamins.

4. Tempeh

One of the more affordable ways to obtain good bacteria. Tempeh can be made as a snack or eaten as a side dish as well. There are numerous ways to cook tempeh as well. You could bake slices of tempeh to make them crispy chips for your child’s snack or stir fry them with vegetables to make a more wholesome dish.

Lydia is a practising Nutritionist and a member of the Nutrition Society Malaysia. She has helped many individuals from different health backgrounds in the past. She is currently working on a nutrition and health website www.thatswholesome.com and teaches kids biology during the day. In the meantime, log on to thats_wholesome on Instagram for more nutritional inspiration





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