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Food & Eating

The Star Pub, Whitley

Cheers to The Star

By family, Food & Eating, parties

The Star in Witley, Surrey is an ideal pub for meeting friends and family, for a get-together in their picturesque, expansive south-facing garden over good, fresh and ‘interesting’ food. Set in central Surrey, on the Petworth Road, The Star is easy to get to and easy to park, so it is great for all the family.

When we visited, they had their GOAT pop-up in collaboration with Cabrito Goat Meat, set-up in the garden which is serving up delicious, sustainable goat dishes all summer long.

We all tried goat for the first time, so you could say The Star is great for a ‘goat’ together as well! We couldn’t say ‘kids’ without cracking up, but it didn’t stop everyone wolfing down the delicious goat burgers and taco’s!

When we visited, the garden was bathed in sunshine throughout the afternoon and with well-placed bench tables and umbrellas as well as the surrounding trees, there was plenty of shade and seating for everyone. Alternatively, the bar and restaurant area indoors offers a cooler option to the garden glare, and inside this gorgeous 17th century dwelling, a more traditional cuisine is available from their award-winning chefs. We stuck to goat that afternoon, but I urge you to visit The Star where their exquisite, locally sourced offerings such as cheese and truffle arancini, kiln smoked Caesar salad or slow cooked venison ragu pappardelle, as well as a variety of tantalizing vegetarian options may well win you over.

Outside, the busy pop-up barbecue kitchen and bar made service swift and easy and the beer, wine and cocktail selection was well considered to match the fascinating and delicious goat cuisine. Who can resist a refreshing Rosé piscine or a chilled local IPA to refresh on a lovely sunny day out?

Very child-friendly, the fenced garden allowed the family to relax, have fun and indulge themselves, and so we unhesitatingly recommend The Star, Whitley to everyone – whether it’s for a family luncheon, a birthday party or a special night out.

Visit: The Star, Witley, GU8 5LU

Web: www.thestarwitley.co.uk

Telephone: 01483 355 046

handhold

Love thy neighbour

By Finance, Food & Eating, Mental health, Special support needs
by Sally-Ann Potter
Blossom and Bloom Day Nursery

The word ‘struggle’ is by definiton to ‘make forceful efforts to get free of restraint or constriction’. So really, using the word ‘struggle’ to describe the financial difficulties so many are facing isn’t too dramatic when you think about it. The rising cost of living has seen children being stripped of ‘luxuries’ that were previously a standard part of their childhood. Swimming lessons, language lessons, playdates, day trips – all the things you enjoy doing with your children that were potentially taken for granted before our energy prices rose, and paying £400 per month for your electricity meant you perhaps could no longer afford these extra curricular activities.

Working so closely with a wide variety of families, some who know financial struggle and live hand-to-mouth and some who don’t, it has become apparent that there isn’t anyone who isn’t negatively affected by the cost of living crisis.

I’ve spoken to families who are broken; who are coming into nursery and saying they’re on their last nappy and won’t be paid for another few days, who have run out of baby milk for their newborn or because their electric meter has been cut off and it’s freezing cold.

Some days it feels as though we are living in a really depressing feature film. The damage the pandemic did to people’s mental health seems minimal compared to the pressure to keep a roof over your head and provide for your family.

So, what can we do to help each other out? Where are we able to be a bit more selfless and make a difference? Little ripples of kindess could turn into big waves and be the change we need. Maybe something as small as putting a tin of beans in the food bank at the supermarket is the most you can manage. Have you ever opened a packet of nappies, used one and realised they’re the wrong size and you can’t return them? Perhaps you could pass them onto a friend or your nursery? If you’re not able to offer any financial support, maybe you have some clothes you can donate to a clothing bank? It might seem like it isn’t significant but it is. Sometimes we don’t see the benefit of our kindness and that’s OK. It’s OK to do something to help someone without knowing if it ever did help. It probably did and that’s enough.

I live in a community that regularly sees overwhelming acts of kindness. For example, there is a house down the road which has put a shed up in their front garden that offers food that struggling families can go and help themsleves to. People maybe don’t take advantage of it, but it’s respected and appreciated and lots of people donate in order to help each other out.

We have recently opened a baby bank at our nursery. Parents can discreetly go and help themselves to anything in there that they might need. They have a code to help themselves at any time. We reached out to our local community for donations and had an amazing response. We have donations of formula, nappies, baby wipes, baby clothes and toys.

As a setting, we have taken the decision to freeze our prices, offer two meals a day for free and introduce a policy that we only charge paying parents for the hours they are using, meaning they no longer have to pay childcare fees when their child is poorly and they have to take an unpaid day from work to care for them.

What if every single person did something small to help a stranger? What would the world look like then?

For more information please contact Sally-Ann at sallyann@pottershousepreschool.co.uk or call 07939 620934 www.pottershousepreschool.co.uk www.blossomandbloomdaynursery.co.uk

 

fat school child

Data reveals over 200,000 Year 6 children are classed as overweight or obese

By baby health, children's health, Food & Eating

Public Health England has recently revealed that tackling obesity is one of the greatest long-term health challenges currently facing England, as one in three children leaving primary school are overweight or living with obesity and one in five are obese.

According to these figures, a staggering 227,314 children aged 10-11 were classified as overweight or obese in 2021/22, a figure that has risen by 30% since the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2019/20, 172,831 Year 6 children were classed as overweight or obese before records were skewed during the 2020/21 Covid-crisis.

According to eating disorder experts at UKAT, (the UK Addiction Treatment Group) the number of children overweight or obese in 2021/22 was the highest count of overweight or obese children age 10-11 ever recorded, with figures going back as far as 2006/07.

Analysis of the new data by UKAT also reveals that the number of children in reception, those aged just four to five years old, classed as overweight and including obese rose from 91,723 in 2019/20 to 126,701 in 2021/22, a 38% rise since the pandemic. Those in Year 6 who are classed solely as ‘severely obese’ has risen drastically too. In 2019/20, 22,885 children age 10-11 were classed as severely obese. This rose to 34,818 in 2021/22 – a 52% rise.

There is concern about the rise of childhood obesity and the implications of obesity persisting into adulthood. The risk of obesity in adulthood and risk of future obesity-related ill health are greater as children get older. Around two-thirds (63%) of adults are above a healthy weight, and of these half are living with obesity.

Obesity prevalence is highest amongst the most deprived groups in society. Children resident in the most deprived parts of the country are more than twice as likely to be living with obesity than those in the least deprived areas.

Nuno Albuquerque, Head of Treatment for the UKAT Group comments; “Our concern is for the physical and mental wellbeing of children who are overweight or living with obesity. The health consequences of childhood obesity include type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and exacerbation of conditions like asthma, to name a few. But the psychological problems that come with obesity at such a young age include social isolation, low self-esteem and bullying, all factors that go hand in hand with the development of an eating disorder. We treat people aged 16 and over for eating disorders, and the vast majority of those began their unhealthy relationship with food during their childhood. For some, over-eating is not a choice, it is a progressive illness that worsens over time and can be extremely dangerous. These figures clearly show that children’s eating habits worsened during the global pandemic and as a society, we need to tackle this head on as a priority.”

For population monitoring purposes, children are classified as overweight (including obesity) if their body mass index (BMI) is on or above the 85th centile of the British 1990 growth reference (UK90) according to age and sex. For population monitoring purposes children are classified as living with severe obesity if their body mass index (BMI) is on or above the 99.6th centile of the British 1990 growth reference (UK90) according to age and sex.

For further information and 24/7 confidential help and support with understanding eating disorders please visit www.ukat.co.uk

fussy child

How to tackle food fussiness

By Education, family, Food & Eating
by Dr Lucy Cooke, research psychologist specialising in children’s eating behaviour and expert advisor on the non-profit children’s online game Teach Your Monster: Adventurous Eating

Getting children to eat healthily is, for many families, a daily struggle. Parents can end up cooking the same meals over and over again because their children won’t try anything new. Any attempt to serve an unfamiliar food may be met with a flat refusal and mealtimes can become a battle of wills which is stressful for everyone.

Many parents believe that everyone else’s children are eating five fruit and vegetables a day, but research tells us otherwise. In fact, less than 20% of young children meet these guidelines. Fussy or picky eating is incredibly common among young children, especially with regard to new or unfamiliar foods, and fruits and vegetables are the most likely to be rejected. Familiarity is a key driver of food intake, so the key is to make the foods we want children to eat more familiar.

One of the challenges here is that the increased consumption of ultra-processed and processed foods that are high in fat, sugar, and salt, has altered our interactions with food. As a result, some children may not even recognise ‘every day’ fruit and vegetables in their natural state.

Implementing sustainable changes can make an enormous difference to children and their families, but in practice it’s very difficult to get children to eat five fruit and vegetables a day. However, parents play a key role in increasing their child’s knowledge, awareness, and willingness to try new foods, and there are many easy-to-implement techniques and strategies that can help.

Engage your child in food preparation activities – from helping picking vegetables at the supermarket, and choosing which ones to have for dinner, to weighing, peeling, and even serving.

Eat meals together with your child whenever possible because the more a child sees parents eat and enjoy fruits and vegetables, the more likely they are to follow suit. However, avoid showing it if you don’t like fruit and vegetables as this dislike can be contagious! Try to instil calm at meal times and avoid developing a sense of expectation as that creates a stressful environment for everyone involved.

Focus on the delicious taste of fruits and vegetables rather than their healthiness. To a child, healthy food often means ‘yucky’ food so telling your child how much you enjoy fruit and vegetables is more important than saying they need it to grow fit and strong.

Persevere in the face of refusal. Offer only very small quantities of new foods at first and repeat daily for up to 10 days. Research shows this can change dislike to like.

A multi-sensory approach
If a child eats a limited range of foods and won’t even try the smallest amount of new foods, using a sensory approach to exploring foods can help lay the foundations for children to develop a better, healthier relationship with food.

Essentially, get more creative and fun with food, turn it into a game, and take it beyond the dinner table. Using all five senses: sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste is an effective way to make new food less intimidating and more familiar. Keep in mind, it’s not necessarily about eating but experiencing each one in different ways, such as:
• Look at different varieties of tomatoes and get your child to talk about the different colours, patterns, or shapes, and the difference in appearance between the inside and outside.
• Listen to the distinctive sounds created when preparing carrots using several methods such as grating, chopping, or simply biting and chewing a raw carrot.
• Touch a fruit such as an orange and feel the contrasting textures between the bumpy rind, the spongy pith, and the juicy fruit itself.
• Smell something with a strong odour such as a lemon and compare with something with little or no smell like a potato. Ask your child to describe the different smells.
• Taste a small selection of green fruit and vegetables, for instance, grapes, kiwis, cucumber, or broccoli. Cut into very small pieces and talk about whether they are sweet, or bitter, and which taste they prefer and why.

There are many such activities that parents and children can undertake together outside of meal times. For free resources try the charity TastEd (www.tasteeducation.com) which has a range of activities and videos for parents around how to use the five senses to explore food, while non-profit Teach Your Monster (www.teachyourmonster.org) has a free online game, Teach Your Monster: Adventurous Eating, which encourages children to explore food in a fun, exciting way.

Children can discover and experiment with food using all five senses, and importantly, this approach can be tailored for children of all abilities and ages. Multi-sensory interaction with food is a good way to start to tackle food fussiness, awakening curiosity, and excitement around food, and helping to inspire a generation of adventurous eaters.

Dr Lucy Cooke, psychologist specialising in children’s eating behaviour and expert advisor to Teach Your Monster: Adventurous Eating, (www.teachyourmonster,org) and to TastEd (www.tasteducation.com)

Get out of the classroom and into the kitchen to make learning fun!

By Education, environment, Food & Eating
by Kate Doran
www.veggienauts.com

Cooking with small children can be chaotic to say the least. But if you can embrace a little mess and allow them some autonomy, in amongst the madness there are so many exciting opportunities to learn.

This summer, keep your children entertained and teach them important life skills with these kitchen classroom favourites.

Reading
From shopping lists to recipe instructions, reading is an essential skill when it comes to cooking. Younger cooks will enjoy identifying letters – like ‘C is for carrot’ – or being read aloud to, whilst older children can gain real confidence by reading and following instructions by themselves.

Writing
Writing out and/or drawing steps for a favourite recipe is a great activity for little learners of all ages. Make shopping lists, jot down observations, or why not encourage your little cook to create their own recipe book as a record of what they’ve enjoyed making this summer?

Maths
Maths is everywhere you look in the kitchen, from measuring out ingredients to setting a timer. Younger cooks can get involved by counting scoops or spoonfuls out loud or identifying single numbers on packaging or scales.

Science
What makes cakes rise? Volume vs weight. Liquids vs solids. Science is a cook’s best friend and the kitchen is a brilliant place to experiment, often with delicious results. Why not set up a blind taste test and use smell, touch and finally taste to identify a rainbow of foods, recording your results for maximum science skills?

Art
If cooking is a science, there’s also a place in the kitchen for art. Decorating cupcakes, preparing a beautiful vegetable platter or simply laying the table and folding napkins are all opportunities for children to express their creative side.

History and culture
Every ingredient has a history. Encourage your child’s natural curiosity by talking about where an ingredient comes from or experiment with different world cuisines – a family meal themed to a different world cuisine each week is a great way to do this with so much scope to get creative with playlists, decorations and more.

Nutrition
Cooking together can provide the perfect opportunity to talk about the benefits of individual ingredients with your child. Orange foods give you super sight. Red foods keep your heart strong. Maybe runner beans help you run faster?!

Organisation
Not a topic you’ll find on the curriculum but one we could all do with more of. Portioning out equal quantities of dough for cookies, stacking bowls or loading the dishwasher are all examples of tasks that engage your child’s frontal lobe.

Confidence and independence
Understanding food, how to shop for, prepare and make their own recipes are skills that set children up for life. It can be stressful letting small children take the reins and often easier to do it yourself, but try to let your child have as much autonomy in the kitchen as possible and they’ll really reap the benefits in the long term.

Safety
Which brings us nicely to our final lesson, safety. With open flames, ovens, sharp knives, blenders, graters and more, the kitchen is a potentially dangerous place for small children. But with the right discussions they can learn important life lessons. Talk about the safe way to handle certain implements, the importance of staying away from the oven or maybe even write up a list of kitchen safety rules to stick on the fridge.

Small children are naturally curious. Getting them away from screens and into the kitchen is a brilliant way to make lasting family memories, learn life skills and try new things. Yes, cooking with children can be messy, but the rewards are endless.

Who knows, maybe by the end of the summer your little cooking companion will have learnt enough for you to be putting your feet up whilst they take control of the kitchen?

Kate Doran is a cookbook author, mum of three young children and founder of The Veggienauts Club,

a monthly vegetable discovery subscription box for children age 3 – 8.

To find out more and join the club visit www.veggienauts.com

body-confident girl

How to raise body-confident children in a social media obsessed society

By Food & Eating, Mental health
www.wearetheempowered.com

Growing up in a world consumed by social media, it is quite possible that our current young generation will stand a higher chance of having a negative relationship with their body as they grow up. Studies show that 87% of females and 65% of males compare themselves and their bodies to ones they see on social media.

Whilst it may now be trendy to share ‘real’, unedited photos online, a lot of the damage has already been done. As soon as a young, impressionable individual sees a certain body type being deemed as the ‘ideal’, it is only natural that they will begin to compare themselves to it. However, there are ways, as a parent, you can help to combat this issue.

Here, Chaneen Saliee shares how to raise body-confident children in a social media obsessed society:

• Be the role model
Children imitate their parents. Therefore, it’s extremely important to learn to love yourself so your child can model their beliefs and attitudes on the way to speak to and treat your own body.

• Media consumption
Surround your children with positive, inclusive and diverse imagery. If children idolise a certain book character who speaks positively about bodies and self-love, they are likely to adopt a similar mindset. The films and art that your children are exposed to, have a huge subconscious impact on their forming beliefs and attitudes.

• Trend management
Pay attention to the trends your child may be seeing in school or on social media. If your children are slightly older, be ready to deliver compassionate advice about how to navigate these trends whilst remaining confident in themselves.

• Using affirmations
“I am beautiful, my body is strong, I am grateful for my health.” Positive affirmations may seem awkward at first, but our brains rewire themselves with more repetition, meaning we eventually begin to genuinely believe these statements.

• Talk positively about all body types
Celebrate all bodies! Teach your child that it’s important to be loving and accepting of everyone, regardless of what they look like. They should refrain from judging individuals based on their body.

 

Five ways to help your children develop a positive relationship with food

By children's health, family, Food & Eating

If dinnertime has become a battle, try these tips from Denby’s Hayley Baddiley to encourage your children to eat better.

One in five children in the UK consume 78% of their calories from ultra-processed foods, according to research from Imperial College London. Unhealthy eating habits such as these can lead to various health conditions, including diabetes and heart disease. It’s also possible that picky eating could be a symptom of, and may worsen, some mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety (Healthline), so it’s important that your children maintain a positive relationship with their food.

As a parent, you’ll know all too well how fussy some children can be when it comes to mealtimes. It’s entirely normal for children to go through a phase of picky eating, and it’s usually nothing to worry about. Luckily, there are a few simple tricks you can try to get them to eat more of the good stuff.

Get children involved in the kitchen

pizza kidsKids love being involved with grown-up tasks, so one of the best ways to encourage a healthy relationship with food is by asking them to help out in the kitchen. Allowing them to handle the ingredients at each stage of cooking a meal helps them become more familiar with the food they’re eating, and is a great way to reduce feelings of anxiety at mealtimes.

There are a whole range of different tasks for your children to do, no matter their age. Little ones can help wash vegetables and measure out ingredients, while older children can help with chopping, peeling, and stirring. Just choose child-friendly recipes and consider making dishes they can put together themselves. For example, you could create your own pizzas or fajitas, and your children can choose whatever toppings of fillings they want.

Grow your own produce

grow vegeisIf you’ve got the outdoor space, why not grow your own fruits and vegetables? Not only is this a fun way to teach your family about where their food comes from, but your little ones are also more likely to eat the food if they’ve grown it themselves. By the time a new ingredient is ready to plate up, your child will already be familiar with the shape and smell – all that will remain is to taste it!

If this will be your first time gardening, then it’s best to start with something small and simple, such as a few lettuces or a tomato plant. But, as you practise and your children become more confident trying new things, you can start to expand your garden to even more varieties of fruit and vegetables. Try growing courgettes, carrots, potatoes or strawberries, depending on what your children like to eat, and what you’d like to encourage them to try.

Make mealtimes fun

Turning mealtimes into a game is another great way to encourage your children to have a healthy relationship with food. Consider creating a rewards chart and give everyone a star for each fruit or vegetable they eat. Why not add an extra element of competition by offering a prize to whoever has the most stars by the end of
the week?

Making mealtimes more of an occasion can also help reduce stress and encourage your little ones to eat better. Prepare healthy snacks for a family picnic or serve up a tasty summer salad outdoors. You could also host weekly themed nights, complete with decorations and a menu to match. This is a great way to encourage children to try something new, while also making it a fun experience for the whole family.

Get creative with presentation

pretty platesSometimes, all it takes it a little creativity to get your little ones to eat their meals, so it’s worth taking some extra time to present their dishes nicely. For example, experimenting with colour and choosing a vibrant array of vegetables served on matching tableware is a great way to make your dishes look more appetising. Add an extra touch of artistic flair by making fun faces out of the ingredients.

You could also encourage children to become more independent when it comes to mealtimes. By plating up each element in serving bowls and urging everyone to help themselves, you can ease the pressure of trying new things. Giving your children their own set of tableware can also help them feel more independent at mealtimes, and they’ll be more likely to engage with the food you serve up.

Hide your fruit and veg

In some cases, it’s the taste and texture of vegetables that can put your little ones off eating them. So, one of the easiest ways to get your children to eat their vegetables is when they don’t know they’re there at all! This is a great way to up your family’s vitamin intake, especially if the children haven’t been swayed by your previous tactics.

Hide vegetables in pasta sauces, pies, and tarts. Disguise puréed carrots in some mashed potato. Make rice from cauliflower. Or use a spiraliser to create pasta from carrots or courgette. If you mix it in with a small portion of normal rice or pasta, your little ones might never know the difference.

Fussy eating in children is very common, but by trying these tips and tricks, you can encourage them to develop a healthier relationship with food, and they’re much more likely to keep up these positive habits as they get older.
Images ©Denby.  www.denbypottery.com

thumb sucking solution

Why, when and how we should encourage our children to break the thumb sucking habit

By family, Food & Eating, Health, teeth and dental care
by Dr Chaw-Su Kyi
Orthodontist

Thumb sucking is a natural and soothing habit that many babies start while they are in the womb. Studies have shown that foetuses can start thumb sucking as early as the 10th week of gestation! From birth, the habit often naturally continues, until the age of three or four. Most often, children will stop at around this age as a result of learning other ways of expressing themselves like speaking.

For older children who continue to be thumb suckers, peer pressure at school can often end the habit. However, according to the British Orthodontic Society one in every eight children (aged 7-11) have a prolonged digit sucking habit. Girls are more likely to be prolonged digit suckers than boys.

Why stop thumb sucking?
Thumb (or finger) sucking is probably one of the most common habits infants have, and for the majority of us, we often stop in our early years. However, it can prove to be a difficult habit to break. Research has shown that there can be a number of problems associated with thumb or finger sucking in children. If the act of digit sucking is performed vigorously over a prolonged period of time, this may cause issues with the growth of the mouth and the alignment of child’s teeth. Because thumb sucking affects the development of the teeth, jaw and palate, the habit can also change how children eat and speak. Thumb sucking may cause lisping and other speech impediments, including an inability to pronounce hard consonant sounds like ‘D’ and ‘T’.

If your child is still sucking their thumb once the permanent teeth begin to erupt, it can begin to impact the adult teeth. If the thumb (or finger) is placed in the mouth for prolonged periods of time, the thumb itself begins to act like a brace – pushing the upper front teeth forwards and the lower front teeth back. As the thumb is resting in-between the upper and lower teeth, it can also prevent the normal eruption of the front teeth, causing an open bite and the front teeth not to meet.

When we should look to stop the habit?
The sooner a child can be encouraged to stop thumb sucking, the greater the probability no lasting impact will be experienced to the teeth.

If your child’s teeth have begun to move as a result of thumb sucking, there is still a possibility, if the habit is stopped early enough, the teeth can start to return to their normal positions as children are going through their growth and development. This may mean they do not require orthodontic treatment to correct any misalignment of their teeth caused by their thumb sucking.

How to stop thumb or finger sucking?
Thumb sucking can be a tricky habit for children to break. It’s one of those things, as adults that we often shy away from encouraging our children to stop doing as we know it may be difficult and stressful to try and stop. We first have to start with the child – if he or she is determined to stop the habit, it will happen, but having a habit breaker has shown to aid in the cessation of the habit.

All habit breakers work by acting as a reminder – letting your child know that ‘their digits are in the mouth and to take it out’. There are varnishes which you can paint onto the nails which are designed to be extremely unpleasant tasting. Some parents turn to thumb or finger guards, that can be worn at all times, and prompt children to remove their digits as the feel of the fabric in the mouth is less pleasant or comforting.

If these remedies do not work, there are other options that have been shown to be effective at stopping thumb sucking. As well as straightening the teeth orthodontists, commonly see and treat patients to help stop thumb-sucking. They are able to fit a type of brace to act as a permanent habit-breaker. The brace is often fixed with a little ‘gate’ on the palate which acts as the ‘reminder’ to remove the thumb.

These devises tend to be fitted for around three months before they are removed, typically the habit is broken within a month, and the device is left in situ for at least two months after the habit has stopped to ensure it’s ceased.

It is important that the digit sucking habit is stopped at a young age to allow the teeth to ‘recover’. If the habit is continued through to adolescence, it may have severe consequences on the developing dentition – particularly their alignment. Often brace treatment with fixed braces will be needed and possibly removing teeth to allow space for the teeth to be moved back into their correct alignment to attain a
good overbite.

If you would like some advice on stopping a thumb-sucking habit from Dr Chaw-Su Kyi please visit

Can friendly bacteria help reduce the occurrence of allergies?

By baby health, children's health, Education, family, Food & Eating, Green, Health
by Rebecca Traylen (ANutr)
Probio7

What is an allergy?
Allergy UK define an allergy as “the response of the body’s immune system to normally harmless substances, such as pollens, foods, and house dust mites. Whilst in most people these substances (allergens) pose no problem, in allergic individuals their immune system identifies them as a ‘threat’ and produces an inappropriate response.”

Allergies such as eczema, hay fever and certain foods are becoming increasingly common in children and are on the rise. They can have a major effect on children and their families lives and therefore, anything we can do to understand how they develop and where possible minimise their occurrence should be encouraged.

What is the link between your gut and allergies?
There are trillions of microbes including bacteria, fungi, archaea, viruses and protozoans which are present in and on our body. 95% of these microbes are found in our gastrointestinal tract, weighing a staggering 2kg! Our gut microbiome has several important roles including digesting food, ensuring proper digestive function and helping with the production of some vitamins (B and K).

Our gut microbiome can strengthen the integrity of our gut wall and helps reduce inflammation. It also helps teach our immune system to respond appropriately to substances and fight off harmful pathogens. This allows our immune system to react appropriately to substances and ensures it doesn’t overreact to substances, as typically seen in allergies.

70% of our immune system lies along our digestive tract which further highlights the significant role our gut microbiome can play in our immune system.

Rates of allergies have been increasing as we have moved towards more urban environments. This has meant the variety of foods we are eating have decreased, our use of antibiotics has increased, and we are spending less time outdoors. Subsequently, this has been thought to reduce the diversity of our gut microbiome.

Research has shown that having a healthy and diverse gut microbiome is associated with fewer allergic symptoms. Therefore, our move to urban environments is thought to play a role in the increased number of allergies, through changes in our gut microbiome.

Reducing the risk of allergies
Friendly bacteria are live beneficial bacteria that can be consumed in food or supplement form. Taking friendly bacteria has been suggested to reduce the occurrence of allergies by supporting the gut microbiome.

One way to reduce the risk of allergies in your infant starts in pregnancy. Research has shown that taking a friendly bacteria supplement during pregnancy may reduce the chances of their infant developing eczema by 22%.

In addition, taking fish oil supplements during pregnancy may also reduce the chance of children becoming sensitised to egg (a sign of a potential allergy) by 31% and also may reduce the chances of peanut allergy.

Therefore, supplementing with both friendly bacteria supplements and omega-3 during pregnancy could be of particular benefit for allergy prevention in the infant.

Friendly bacteria supplements during infancy have also been demonstrated in some cases to prevent atopic sensitisation (this is a positive test for eczema, hay fever and allergic asthma).

Should you try a friendly bacteria supplement?
Whilst the research is still relatively new around friendly bacteria supplements and allergies, so far, they are shown to be safe and well tolerable. If you have a family history of allergies, taking a friendly bacteria supplement might be worth considering, either during pregnancy or for your infant.

Most importantly you should be looking after your gut by eating plenty of fibre, having a diverse diet, getting outside and exercising for at least 20 minutes every day, staying hydrated and reducing stress whenever possible.

Make sure you check with your GP or health practitioner before introducing any supplements when pregnant, breastfeeding or on medication.

Probio7 have been supporting digestive and immune health in the UK since 1995 and we are dedicated to developing a unique range of the highest quality friendly bacteria supplements. Please visit www.probio7.com for more information.

Springtime learning

By Education, environment, Food & Eating, Gardening, Green, Sprintime

There are lots that your preschooler can learn if you take them outside in the spring. It’s a season of change and there are many fun and engaging activities for little ones to enjoy while exploring the natural world around them. After what has probably felt like one of the longest winters, everyone will be keen to get out and enjoy the longer days and the feelings of optimism that spring brings.

It is an ideal time to see and understand the changes that take place in nature; an opportunity for children to become familiar with the joys and wonder of the new season.

In spring the weather usually turns warmer, trees begin to grow their leaves, plants start to flower and young animals such as chicks and lambs are born. Children’s farms are one of the best places to learn about spring. Many have nature trails to follow where you can spot the first signs of spring and of course there are also baby chicks and lambs to see. Some farms run special events during the lambing season and you may even be lucky enough to see a lamb being born.

On a rainy spring day, let your toddler put on their wellington boots and splash in the puddles. This can lead onto a discussion about how all the rain during spring is important for helping the plants, flowers, trees and animals grow. You can also look out for the early signs of spring as trees and the first flowers of the season begin to bud. Nurseries and preschools are also likely to be talking about these themes with the children so your toddler will probably have a lot to chat about!

As we know children generally wake up early, so take advantage of this and walk outside in the early morning. Encourage your toddler to listen out for the birds’ tweeting and singing; it’s a sure sign that spring is on its way. The sight of a carpet of bluebells is another sign that spring is here, so try to go for a woodland walk and see who can spot the bluebells first. You could take a magnifying glass and download a minibeast spotter to see what’s living on your doorstep – its’s a great way to make a walk more interesting for children and they will enjoy looking through the magnifying glass to discover what they can see and then try to find out what it’s called.

Finally, it is the perfect time to introduce children to gardening. Working in a garden, a child can experience the satisfaction that comes from caring for something over time, while observing the cycle of life. Do some research to find out what plants and vegetables give the quickest and most reliable results and get digging with your little one. Children are always much more likely to eat something that they have grown themselves, so this is a great way to get them to eat their vegetables!