Gut health is important, however, it may come as a surprise that some people are still unaware of the importance of gut health. People should be more aware that the friendly bacteria living naturally inside your child\u2019s gut can influence various aspects of their health.\u00a0 One way for parents to remember how important gut health is: happy gut, happy mind! In order to understand better about your children\u2019s gut health, we have Dr. Foo Chee Hoe, a paediatrician from Dr. Foo Child Specialist Clinic, to further explain the importance of gut health on this week\u2019s episode of AskMeDoctor! Season 2. Q1: How important is gut health to our children? Photo credit: Shutterstock Dr. Foo: Actually it is very important for obvious reasons because the gut is the area for absorption of nutrients. The gut has an even greater role in the overall health of the child. It is very important for the relationship between the immune system and also brain development.\u00a0 Good gut health is defined by a well-functioning digestive system that is able to consist of good bacteria balanced with a healthy ecosystem of good bacteria. This ecosystem is known as the gut microbiome.\u00a0 When the gut microbiome is made up of eighty-five percent good bacteria, this is called a state of fuelbiosis. The good bacteria, better known as probiotics, helps: \tRegulate the immune system \tDigest food that we cannot digest \tFight off the bad bacteria \tReduce inflammation in our gut which will also reduce the risk of cancer and other illnesses Q2: Is there any sign of an unhealthy gut? Dr. Foo: Signs of an unhealthy gut would be: \tDiarrhea \tConstipation \tBloatedness or easily upset stomach \tThe emergence of allergic conditions such as eczema, skin irritation, skin itchiness \tPoor sleep \tGetting tired easily \tChronic fatigue syndrome Those signs can be associated with poor gut health. It\u2019s surprising, but they actually can be related.\u00a0 A poorly regulated immune system is also both weak and overactive immune system will cause autoimmune conditions which might be associated with poor gut health as well. Seventy percent of our immunity lies in our gut. Q3: What are the factors which could lead to gut dysbiosis in children? Dr. Foo: Okay, gut dysbiosis, like what I said just now, means there is a dysfunctional bacteria balance. There\u2019s a higher ratio of bad bacteria. The gut microbiome is now not controlled by good bacteria and this would be a problem for our health. The factors contributing to a higher ratio of bad bacteria or gut dysbiosis are: \tLow fibre diet \tHigh sugar intake \tVery processed food A good population of the bacteria can also be affected by: \tInfection of the gut \tFrequent gastroenteritis \tUnjustified and recurrent use of antibiotics\u00a0 Q4: Is it true that the gut microbiome affects a child's behaviour? Dr. Foo: Yes, because the bacteria population in our gut has a significant impact or influence on our emotional psychological development. Millions of bacteria find our intestines as their natural habitat.\u00a0 The number of bacteria in our body is as many as the total number of cells that make up our own body, if not, more actually. They used to know that it was ten times more but actually it is about the same amount or a bit more. So these millions of bacteria influence our enteric nervous system, which means that the intestinal nervous system is also connected to our central nervous system.\u00a0 The brain, spine, and gut microbiome are also responsible for chemical mediators which will affect our mood and behaviour. Q5: Can you elaborate more on the estimation that 90% of serotonin which is also known as the happy hormone is produced in our gut? Photo credit: Freepik Dr. Foo: A large number of neurochemicals known as serotonin are produced by the gut cell and the production is stimulated by the gut bacteria. Serotonin is important for our bowel function, mortality, and our mood. This relationship actually establishes the exciting connection between our mood, behaviour, and gut.\u00a0 So I think just, my own thought, this is probably why we feel butterflies in our stomach when we are anxious. When we have good nutritious food, we feel happy, and we usually feel very lousy after indulging in high sugar, high fat kind of fast food, kind of meal. Q6: Is it true that communication goes both ways from the brain to the gut and gut to the brain? Photo credit: Freepik Dr. Foo: Yes, the relationship is bi-directional. The gut is now recognised as a second brain and it has its complex nervous system called the enteric nervous system.\u00a0 It is connected to the central nervous system which is the brain and the spine via the vagus nerve and it influences each other.\u00a0 This is why it is known that there is a direct relationship between the gut and the brain and its spine directional.\u00a0 Remember mums, happy gut, happy mind! Q7: How can I improve my child\u2019s gut health? Photo credit: Freepik Dr. Foo: To improve your child's gut health, the most important part is that we have to eat well because what we have established so far, good nutritious foods will encourage the building of a healthy gut microbiome. So please avoid processed foods and unhealthy foods that will disrupt the ecosystem. A healthy lifestyle is very important and these would really help the child to improve their gut health: \tGet adequate sleep \tA healthy environment growing up for the child - it\u2019s not stressful \tFree from infections and illnesses \tA healthy dose of exercise Q8: Is there anything that my child should eat to promote good gut health and a happy mind? Photo credit: VITAGEN Malaysia Dr. Foo: The saying goes, we are what we eat, so that\u2019s really true because we should really eat food that promotes good bacteria growth. So what type of food can promote such growth? I would say fermented food like \tTempeh \tYoghurt \tCultured milk drinks So avoid bad food that will negatively impact the microbiome, so we should say no to: \tProcessed food those high in fat \tHigh sugar foods \tA low fibre diet \tArtificial sweeteners - it\u2019s harmful to the good microbe, so it\u2019s time to say no to those zero (calories) drinks and the artificial sweetener https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/watch?vUDwVKESXFXE Stand a chance to win 20 bottles of free VITAGEN and a cooler bag, when you answer a simple question. Tag 3 friends and share Motherhood's Facebook post. This giveaway will be awarded to 10 lucky winners.\u00a0 What are you waiting for? Gut your VITAGEN today! Stay tuned for more AskMeDoctor! episodes on Motherhood Story and our Facebook page.