Raise Healthy Kids & Heal Your Gut
Among the many questions I’m often asked about my gluten free lifestyle are, “How do I raise healthy kids” and “How do you heal your gut?” Perhaps surprisingly, the answers are quite similar!
As every parent does, I worry about whether my kids are getting the nutrition they need at home and at school or away with friends. Teaching them that food is fuel has been an important tool for me to train them to look out for themselves when I’m not around. But I’m not ashamed to say that I also sneak nutrition in wherever I can!
I found a product that my kids actually love and that makes breakfast easy in our house, and I’m happy to share this gem with you, too! It’s called Doctor Rach’s Kidzshake™. We whip up vanilla or chocolate, add bananas or other fruits, (or not), and we all enjoy a great start to our day, even when we’re in a rush.
While my family is lactose-free, we’re not totally vegan, so these products work for us, but please note that the protein comes from whey, which is a protein in milk. The shakes contain 17 essential vitamins and minerals, fiber, probiotics, enzymes and Omega 3s, and even though they’re sugar-free, the shakes are not chalky or fake tasting, so my kids actually ask for shakes! They’re also gluten-free, nonGMO, nut, soy and lactose-free.
Believe me, I’ve tried tons of protein powders on my kids and they’ve always turned up their noses! These powders are the total nutrition package AND my kids like the taste, so I was sold. Because I loved this product so much, I decided to track down the founder, Dr. Rach, and get more information on why she started making the shakes and her perspective on nutrition and gut healing. I ultimately interviewed her on my radio show, The Gluten Free Voice, and was thoroughly impressed by her wealth of knowledge. It’s a great interview you should download and listen to in your free time one day!
I invited Dr. Rach to share some of her thoughts on gut healing and serving nutritious meals, even on a gluten free diet. I know you’ll find her information valuable, so I’ve posted it here for your easy reference.
✦Please share your thoughts in the comments section: how do you sneak nutrition into your kids’ meals? What have you done to heal your gut? What are your favorite nutritious gluten free products?✦
I am known as “The Children’s Nutrition Advocate,” and I am extremely passionate about helping moms enhance their children’s lives through proper nutrition. I am new to the United States. I am from Sydney, Australia where I was immersed in the study of nutrition. I completed a Bachelor of Medical Science majoring in Nutritional Biochemistry. I wanted to be a holistic doctor, so I went to chiropractic school. I practiced for 10 years in Sydney before my husband decided that we wanted an adventure, and we moved our 4 kids to Utah.
My husband Lachlan was diagnosed with celiac disease at the age of 5 years old and 2 out of 4 of my daughters also have celiac disease. I produce Gluten Free Nutritional Products for children that specifically address the needs of children with gastro-intestinal(gut) related health issues.
Being diagnosed with celiac disease, gluten sensitivity or other gut related disorders is a big deal. Upon diagnosis, we are often given a big list of foods that we shouldn’t eat, but are often not given any specific guidance as to what we should do to repair the sometimes significantly damaged gut, and to address potential nutrient deficiencies that result.
The health of the gut is really important. A healthy gut allows for the proper assimilation of minerals, vitamins and phytonutrients of our food. But gut health extends a lot further than this. The gut contains our enteric nervous system or “second brain.” It is estimated that 95% of serotonin, the happy hormone, is produced in the gut. This means that gut health also impacts our emotions, mood control and concentration. Our gut also contains about 80% of our immune system, so gut health significantly impacts our ability to fight disease. Improving gut health will not only improve nutrient absorption but will improve state of mind and overall health.
So what can you do to heal your gut?
In Functional medicine, there are “5 R’s” involved in gut healing:
- REMOVE THE STRESSORS- i.e. gluten- all of it!! If you have a damaged gut, you may also be sensitive to other allergens and therefore an elimination diet may be beneficial to identify them in the short term. As your gut heals you may be able to reintroduce some of these foods. It is important that your diet is GMO FREE. GMO products are designed specifically to be herbicide and pesticide resistant, which means that they can withstand heavy spraying and therefore these chemical residues are still contained in these foods. These residues then create holes in your gut lining, creating leaky gut and inappropriate immune responses.
- REPLACE- Replace the digestive enzymes. Many whole foods come with their own set of enzymes that allow for the breakdown of food and the assimilation of nutrients. Cooking and processing of food reduces or destroys these natural enzymes. We also have digestive enzymes generated from within our own body, primarily from our pancreas. When we have been sick, on medication, stressed or have eaten a poor diet, digestive enzyme levels deplete and then we can’t get the full nutritional value from our foods. Supplementing with digestive enzymes will allow you to get the most out of your food.
- REINOCULATE- It is estimated that there are over 100 trillion microorganisms in our gut. That is about 1-2 pounds of bacteria. When we do things that damage our gut (such as poor diet or disease), the number of good bacteria in our gut deteriorates quickly. Also, sickness is often addressed with antibiotics which, while serving to destroy bad bacteria, will also destroy any good bacteria. These good bacteria are vital to keep the gut healthy and functioning optimally. One of the best things you can do for your gut is inoculate your body with probiotic rich foods such as kombucha, yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut. Supplementation is also a great option to get those good bacteria levels up. It is important to note that sugar feeds the bad bacteria in our gut, so limiting added sugars is beneficial in rebalancing gut flora.
- REPAIR- we need key nutrients from our diet to help repair our guts. Vitamin A, C, E, omega-3’s, and the amino acid glutamine are essential to promoting gut health and repair. Providing these nutrients will allow for a more complete recovery.
- REBALANCE- lifestyle factors, such as getting enough sleep, getting enough exercise and utilizing stress management techniques.
So what should my daily diet look like?
A trap that many people fall into is relying on processed gluten free products. Unfortunately many gluten free products use loads of sugar and other nasty ingredients to hide their funky taste. At the end of the day, Healthy Eating is Healthy Eating!! Healthy eating while being gluten free is really no different from the way everyone should be eating.
I recommend a vegetable and fruit based diet, with the addition of nuts, seeds, organic meats and dairy, healthy gluten free grains, legumes and good sources of fats such as coconut oil, olive oil and nut oils. If there is any intolerance to any of these foods they should be omitted.
Dinners consist of salads, soups and stew, broiled and poached proteins, brown rice and quinoa. It is so important to learn to cook with herbs and spices, to create different dishes and improve the healing properties of the dish. Eating simply is the best way to eat healthy.
Due to the reduction of nutrients in our fruit and vegetables, it is extremely difficult to reach the vitamin and mineral requirements so we always supplement our diet with a good multivitamin.
To find out more information about Healthy Eating and kids nutrition head over to my website www.doctorrach.com and sign up to my newsletter. You will get a biweekly newsletter with loads of practical, healthy tips and info.
Here are a few great links on my websites that Gluten Free Parents will find useful:
Some links in this post may be referral links. If you do decide to purchase a product at a retailer after following my link, I may receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you, which I use to pay for web hosting and services for this blog. Read my disclosure policy here.