Sugar and your child’s gut microbiome

Gut Microbiome: Diverse Microbial Community vital for health & wellbeing.

Sugar negatively affects your child’s microbiome and
therefore your child’s overall health & wellbeing.

The human gut microbiome is only really just started to be understood by the medical profession, but it is still not being shown the respect (and awe) that it should be. The science is certainly far ahead of your doctor.

The human gut microbiota is made up of trillions of foreign microbes that include bacteria, fungi and yeast. There can also be parasites, these and the ‘bad’ or undesirable bacteria are kept under control by the ‘Good’ or beneficial bacteria when everything is in balance.

The human gut microbiota fulfil many critical roles in human well-being:

  • Digestion, breakdown of indigestible fibre into important nutrients
  • Protection against harmful microbes
  • Immune system modulation (reducing inflammation and chronic health conditions) by communication with T-reg immune cells like a check point for invaders or food particles
  • Biotransformation of xenobiotics (neutralises toxins in our diet and environment)
  • Biofeedback to the brain – for example signalling when to produce more mucus to protect the gut wall or to absorb more nutrients or when to speed up metabolism and lose weight
  • Produce nutrients like Vitamin K and B Vitamins
  • Bifidobacterium produce GABA this is now known to have a direct influence over
    digestive pain and discomfort by reducing vascular sensitivity
  • Good bacteria produce Short Chain Fatty Acids like N-Butyrate’ the fuel that
    feeds and repairs the gut lining  neutralising damaged cells (cancer protective)

From birth and maybe even before birth, studies are proving that the bacterial species and diversity are vitally important for infant health and how that child develops his or her’s immune function and ability to digest properly and protect themselves against food sensitivities. We are now much more aware of the importance of the microbiome and the profound effects an imbalance can have on health.

A child’s gut microbiome is ‘Seeded’ from birth. The right species are extremely important and they get this from the mother through the birth canal and from breastfeeding.

Early antibiotics can have a devastating effect on the balance of good and ‘bad’ bacteria. This can cause digestive issues and what appears to be food and other sensitivities. It can exacerbate and even cause asthma and eczema especially in conjunction of certain nutrients like Vitamin D and Omega3 fats being deficient.

In very simplistic terms the ‘good’ bacteria feed and thrive on fibre from healthy foods like vegetables, whole grains and fruit and the ‘bad’ bacteria thrive on refined sugars, including refined fruit sugars and carbohydrates.

The modulating effect that sugar has on gut microbes is now being studied in connection with childhood obesity as tests have shown that there are links between certain species of bacteria being missing or present.

If a child’s diet is full of fibre rich foods and probiotic foods like natural yoghurt and only a very moderate amount of unrefined sugar, their microbiome will develop to be health promoting. A good nutritional therapist can advise how to rebalance a child’s microbiome post anti-biotics as this is a crucial time when sugar MUST be avoided to lesson the risk of undesirable bacteria crowding out the beneficial ones.

So when you are next tempted to give your child that sugary snack think about their microbiome.
Make sure they consume fibre everyday, and avoid processed foods where possible.

I will be developing some educational material to help you teach your child about how to look after their good bacteria through their food choices. Go to to find out more.