Gut Health and Children

Kids behaviour begins in the Gut…

Could your toddler’s tantrums be stemming from their gut health? Past research has show the connection between the gut flora and disease, now there is booming talk about the gut-brain connection and the important role it plays in behaviour and mood.

Recent studies have expressed gut microflora plays an integral role in behavioural disorders such as in children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders. Children with these behavioural disorders tend to have some form of gastrointestinal upset such as flatulence, bloating, constipation and diarrhoea.  These symptoms may be caused by the imbalance of healthy microflora in the gastrointestinal tract. An imbalance can interfere with the central nervous system (CNS) and thus play a role in influencing behaviour in children.

Studies show that toddlers with a wide variety of gut bacteria are more likely to be happy, curious and sociable. In children with autism the gut flora has shown to be extremely different with less variety of beneficial bacteria and different kinds of specific bacteria including the higher numbers of clostridia bacteria, which produce a chemical called propionic acid which when absorbed into the bloodstream can reach the brain.

So how do we create a highly diverse gut flora? This means getting down and dirty with all the good bacteria, immersing ourselves and our children with fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kim-chi (if your children like a little spice), fermented drinks like kombucha, yogurts and whole food diets to feed all thriving bacteria. Expecting mothers can take probiotic supplements, avoid unnecessary antibiotic use in young children, too many antibacterial disinfectants, introducing fermented food and drinks and letting children play amongst the dirt and pets to build the immune system and thriving healthy bacteria.

For children friendly fermented foods, see recipes below.

Coconut Milk Kefir


  • 1 can whole coconut milk or 2 cups homemade coconut milk
  • 1 Tbsp milk kefir grains or obtain from a friend (usually a great place to find kefir grains for free!)
  • Equipment needed – fermentation jar or plain old Mason jar secured with a coffee filter and rubber band, nylon strainer.



Place can or homemade coconut milk into your jar and add the grains. Cover and place in a cabinet or pantry for 24-36 hours. The length of time will depend on the conditions in your kitchen. Start tasting the kefir after about 18 hours the first time. Keep tasting until it gets a bit effervescent and sour tasting. Then it is done. It will take longer if your kitchen is very cold and shorter when it is warm. Just keep testing it to see when you like the results and that will be your sweet spot of time.

Strain the kefir through your nylon strainer. Place the strained kefir in the fridge where it will get thicken with the cold temperature. Put the kefir grains back into your fermentation or mason jar and repeat the process by adding more coconut milk. There is no need to rinse the grains after each batch.

Enjoy in smoothies or with berries and soaked oatmeal or just plain with a drizzle of honey!

Fermented apple juice


  • about 9 organic apples
  • 1 tsp powdered culture starter or probiotic powder
  • pinch of good sea salt


  1. Juice the apples, skimming off as much foam as possible.
  2. Add culture starter and salt to the fresh apple juice.
  3. Pour the mixture into quart size mason jar.
  4. Put lid on jar and tighten.
  5. Leave at room temperature for 3 days.
  6. Transfer to the refrigerator and enjoy!

Should last about a month in the fridge, but you will drink it faster than that!
Introducing fermented foods can be a daunting task, we have a workshop coming up where we will teach you family friendly recipes that will suit even the fussiest of eaters! We hope to see you there…