The University of Ohio hosts a research team led by Dr. Lisa Christian with the purpose of investigating stress and health in pregnancy. Recently, the team studied 77 toddlers ranging from 18 – 27 months old. The parents filled out a temperament survey, and stool samples were collected to analyze the diversity of bacteria in the gut. According to the study, young boys are much better off when they have a greater diversity in the microbiome (a community of microorganisms composed of bacteria, fungi, etc. in the gut). They showed increased sociability and improved temperament than their less-diverse counterparts. They also showed that the children were more affectionate and had a higher awareness of their surroundings.
The study also mentioned that there were differences in diet that also accounted for changes in the temperament of the child, but it did not show the relationship between diet and the microbiome. An interesting follow-up would be to try and link these two facets together. We also know that the microbiome of the mother during pregnancy has a dynamic impact on the microbiome of the children which could be another factor.
In the current state of research, observations have been made, but causality has not been established. Specific organisms have not yet been pointed out as the “behavior modulating bacteria,” but perhaps in the near future, we will have that data and you could alter your child’s behavior by giving them a probiotic. In the meantime, there are factors that we can control, and when paired with common sense, there may be some easy ways to help make your kids more well-adjusted.
Diet and self-care are critical during pregnancy. If you are pregnant, talk to your healthcare professional about taking care of yourself, and take care of your gut! Find a good strategy to fight constipation (something almost every expecting mother faces) that doesn’t involve laxatives. This could involve exercise, eating whole, unprocessed foods, or even taking a magnesium supplement.
One of the problems that I face, as a parent, is that my kids can become picky eaters. I can definitely see how easy it is for some parents to pacify their kids by feeding them dry cereal all day long, but when I feed my kids a diverse diet composed of fruits, vegetables, eggs, and healthy protein sources, I see a positive change in behavior. They don’t always eat every bite, but when they hit a growth spurt, that is when my wife and I start to introduce new foods to them.
If you are going to try a probiotic, please consult your doctor first. At Fix Your Gut, our top probiotic choice is still Gutpro. We haven’t found any reason to believe that it isn’t safe, and we admire the steps that Corganics has put into the quality. If you order from them, you will see the care they put into the packaging (cold pack during the warm months, quality materials, etc.) and the quality translates into the supplement itself. Not everyone will benefit from a probiotic, but if you are looking to diversify your microbiome or the microbiome of your children, consider giving Gutpro a shot.
What are your experiences with pregnancy, or raising kids? Do probiotics help? How about diet? We would love to hear from you in the comments!