Food During Labour: How to Nourish Mama

Food during labour is an important way to nourish and support your body. But there are many things to take into consideration when deciding what food to bring to labour.

We asked Lindy Cook, Naturopath, Herbalist and Nutritionist all about the best food and drink options to have on hand during labour.

How do we prepare food during labour when we don’t know what to expect?

You might not be hungry at all. But you might be! The only way to move forward is to be prepared. A good guide is to have plenty of snacks or small meals to choose from, so you can pick what you feel like in the moment. 

When choosing foods, aim for light, nutritious snacks or meals that include complex carbohydrates, with protein and healthy fat to stabilise blood sugar and energy. This will provide your body with energy and nutrients, while eating and drinking small amounts more frequently is easier on digestion.

It’s a good idea to write your own list of what to eat during labour. I encourage you to go through the list of suggested foods below and write down a few things that really appeal to you. 

But if you have no idea what will sound good, use these tips to plan ahead what to eat during labour:

  • Bring a variety of foods to ensure you’re able to find something that sounds good when you need it. 
  • Have a variety of textures available: soft, crunchy, juicy. Pack it all.
  • Don’t forget your partner! Pack enough for them to eat too, without wiping out your snack supply.
  • Treat yourself. Choose items that are a little extravagant you don’t normally buy, like that premium organic juice or fancy European chocolate bar. 

Of course the most important thing of all is to listen to your body and not force yourself to eat something that doesn’t sit well with you. 

What food during labour do you suggest? 

Some hospitals will have a refrigerator you can store your drink and food in. If this isn’t possible, a small esky bag can be useful. The following list isn’t comprehensive but it covers a wide range of snacks and small meals to choose from:

  • Greek yoghurt – rich in good fats and protein. Try adding some berries for a little extra sweetness and energy, can also be frozen into cubes
  • Homemade bliss balls containing protein powder
  • Mini frittata with spinach, carrot and goats cheese
  • Green smoothie with a plant-based protein powder
  • Frozen berries, grapes or bananas, as these fruits are refreshing and remain soft when frozen
  • Quinoa with avocado, or brown rice and an organic egg. Both are light but substantial and well balanced
  • Banana or apple with nut butter
  • Dried fruit and nut mix (preferably without sulfur)
  • Granola bars 
  • Wholegrain toast or wholegrain crackers, with avocado or natural peanut butter or almond butter
  • A spoonful of raw honey, for a boost of energy
  • Peanut butter sandwich
  • Cheese cubes
  • 100% applesauce. The individual squeeze packs are great during active labour.

What are the best options when it comes to fluid intake?

Your body uses a lot of energy during labour and it’s very important you stay hydrated during this period. Aim to take a sip of fluids every 15 – 30 minutes. Another good option is to make ice cubes out of your favourite fruit juice or smoothie and suck on them.

Also, make sure to have a few straws on hand! You’ll probably find yourself in various positions during labour and you may not want to move much. Having your support person hold the straw to your lips will make it much easier to consume.

Here are some of my favourite options of what to drink in labour:

  • Coconut water – an excellent source of electrolytes and an ideal, healthy option for staying hydrated in early labour
  • Miso Soup.
  • Bone Broth – nutrient rich, can assist with nausea
  • Diluted cloudy apple juice .
  • Frozen red raspberry ice cubes with honey or natural raspberry popsicles.
  • Raspberry leaf tea is wonderful during labour and it can gently stimulate productive contractions.
  • Protein smoothie. 
  • Eating juicy fruits like watermelon and cucumbers will increase hydration. Frozen watermelon is very refreshing.
  • Sprinkle a little Celtic salt or other trace mineral salt into your water.
  • Lemon-lime labour aid provides electrolytes, required for muscle (uterine) contractions, particularly useful during active and later labour. 

Lemon-Lime Labour Aid

  • 2 cups coconut water
  • 1 cup water
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 2 tbsp organic honey
  • ¼ tsp unrefined Himalayan salt
  • 1 tsp good quality magnesium powder
  • A few drops of rescue remedy
  • optional: trace mineral/electrolyte drops

Mix all the ingredients together, refrigerate and sip on throughout labour. You could also try freezing it into ice popsicles or cubes in advance, which can be added to water or coconut water. 

When are the best times to eat food during labour?

Eating light snacks and staying hydrated during labour has been shown to significantly reduce the length of labour! Awesome, right? This is why you want to make sure you’re drinking enough fluid during early labour to avoid dehydration, as it can cause ineffective contractions. For food, you want to eat foods that give you lasting energy.

Early labour is a great opportunity to eat deeply nourishing foods to fuel you for several hours. Protein is so important for pregnancy nutrition, plus it helps balance your blood sugar so you don’t have crashes later. If you can stomach protein during labour, try to eat some.  

As labour progresses into the active stage, your appetite will naturally decrease. If you’re able to, eating small bites of easily digestible foods during pushing can help you to maintain your strength. 

It’s wise to have a few options available because you don’t know what might seem appealing, or if you’ll have an aversion to certain tastes or smells. 

Carbs are an excellent choice for that. If eating carbs feel too heavy for you, try having a smoothie, some fruit, a granola or protein bar. Avoid fried or greasy food in case you feel nauseous later in labour. 

What foods and drinks should be avoided during labour? 

It can be temping to just stock up on energy drinks for labour but it’s not a good idea as they’re high in sugar and caffeine. Some energy drinks have as much as 8 times the amount of caffeine as 1 cup of coffee.  It’s not recommended to drink more than one cup of coffee a day while pregnant. 

Other foods and drinks to avoid during labour include:

  • Oranges and orange juice. The acidity may cause an upset stomach or burning if vomiting occurs after consumption.
  • Protein and fat (late in labour). These slow the rate that your muscles use energy supplied from the sugar. Avoid foods like steak, fries or burgers. 
  • High sugar and fat foods. Foods high in sugar may give you that quick energy boost but will leave you feeling tired and nauseous once your energy peaks. Avoid foods like doughnuts, pastries or cakes. 
  • Try to avoid spicy food during early labour since it can cause you to have diarrhoea, which is no fun.
  • Avoid the sports drinks with artificial food dyes and high fructose corn syrup.
  • Energy drinks. These are high in caffeine which can affect you and your baby’s heart rate and blood pressure.

What should the partner or support person be eating throughout the labour?  

Make sure your partner has snacks packed as well! Avoid anything that will linger unpleasantly on their breath (garlicky pasta is out!).

Partners may like to have some easy to grab, quickly nutritious snacks like trail mix, granola bars, peanut butter, nuts, fruit. They will especially be thankful for preparing a sandwich or other simple meal ahead of time.

Your partner is going to need a lot of energy and support to prepare for the journey with you while you are going through the intense stages of labour. You will need a lot of attention, patience and support, so your partner needs to be prepared with nourishing food to stay focused on you. 

What are the best options for nausea during labour? 

The feeling of vomiting and nausea, also known as morning sickness, is fairly common during pregnancy, particularly during the first trimester. However, sometimes a woman may experience similar symptoms when she goes into labour. 

Most often, vomiting in labour happens around transition. This is near the end of the first stage, just before pushing begins.

Some women vomit throughout labour, which can cause dehydration and drain your much needed energy which may slow down contractions. So it’s important to have some tips on hand if you’re nauseous through labour:

  1. Don’t limit food intake: Pregnant women are likely to feel hungry and thirsty during the initial stages of labour. It is essential to eat during early labour to ensure you have plenty of fuel to get through labour. Restricting food intake can trigger ketosis, when your body burns fat reserves as fuel. This can increase acidity and cause you to feel nauseous.
  2. Avoid dehydration: Dehydration during labour can cause nausea and vomiting, as well as slowing down contractions and stalling labour.
  3. Food aversions: Sometimes, specific foods or drinks can bring about nausea during early labour. Some women may be adversely affected by foods like peanut butter or beverages like juice.
  4. Eat bland food: Eating bland food which is easier to digest, such as fresh fruit, rice, multigrain crackers, clear-based broths, yoghurt, bland multigrain cereals.
  5. Essential oils : Essential oils like lemon, lavender, peppermint can work well to stop vomiting at the time of labour. Sniffing the oils may ease the sensation of vomiting.
  6. Ginger: Ginger is known for its beneficial effect in controlling vomiting. You can use ginger tincture which may be an easy, effective and portable way to avert vomiting. You can add a few drops to your tea, broth, water or take it directly.
  7. Hydrotherapy: Some women may find hydrotherapy advantageous when dealing with the sensation of vomiting. Sitting in a tub of water or standing under a shower can ease nauseous feelings.
  8. Cold washcloth: Placing a cool piece of cloth on the face or back of neck can bring some respite from feeling nauseous. You may like to add a drop of essential oil like peppermint for a pleasing, cooling sensation. You can also put a frozen bag or ice cubes at the nape of the neck.

Nurtured Birth offers naturopathy support tailored to your pregnancy and birth needs. We’d love to nurture you on your journey, please contact us for more information or to book an appointment.

Comfort in Labour: 4 Ways to Nourish Mama

As you prepare for birth, take some time to think about what comfort in labour might look for you.

How will you meet the demands of labour, no matter how long it takes? What essentials will  you bring to the birth to keep up your energy and cope with contractions? How will you remain supported, focused and encouraged?  So many questions.

There is so much to think about, especially if it’s your first baby.  It’s exciting and overwhelming and nerve wracking all at the same time. 

There’s more to giving birth than packing a hospital bag and writing out a birth plan. Part of your preparation for birth should focus on one simple theme: nourishing mama during labour. 

When we think of nourishment what immediately comes to mind is food. But humans are complex beings and we need more than just food for our bodies. We rely on many things for our mental sustenance and emotional wellbeing. 

Here we have included 4 simple options to provide comfort in labour for mama: water, food, support and sensory. You can pick and choose the options that will work best for you and include these ideas for your baby’s birth.

#1: Water as comfort in labour

The source of life, the essential building block of life. Human bodies consist of up to 60% water so it’s no wonder we find it a source of nourishment.

During labour, your body works hard and uses up a lot of energy. It’s important to keep hydrated, to support your body’s efforts to give birth. 

Drink small amounts of water often. Sucking or chewing ice cubes prevents taking in too much too quickly, which can cause nausea or vomiting. Using straws to drink liquids is preferable.

Water can be used in the form of hot and cold packs to ease pain and discomfort. Cool face washers or a spray bottle with a fine mist can be refreshing.

Water also offers comfort in labour in the form of the bath or shower. This can make you feel refreshed, cleansed, warm or cool. Taking a bath or having a shower can be relaxing and a form of pain relief, easing tension and backache during labour. Birthing in water is a popular option for some women.

#2: Food as comfort in labour

Lindy Cook, Naturopath at Nurtured Birth, offers the following advice when it comes to the food we should eat during labour for the best nourishment.

“Your best bet is to make sure you have plenty of snacks on hand that are super hydrating, highly nutritious, high in protein and easy to digest. As with the rest of your pregnancy, it’s best to stick with healthy foods that will provide your body with the energy and nutrients needed while giving birth to your baby.”

Research shows restricting nutrition and fluids during labour can make them more painful and last longer. If you are having a c-section you will be given specific guidelines on food and fluid intake. 

In early labour, have regular snacks so you’re building your energy reserves. Eat foods that are easy to digest and give you a more consistent release of energy. Lindy suggests the following options for your labour:

  • Granola bars, protein balls, dried fruit and nut mix
  • Wholegrain toast or crackers with nut butter or avocado
  • Low fat yoghurt, add berries for sweetness
  • Apples or bananas, frozen grapes or berries
  • Smoothies – fruit or vegetable or green with added protein powder
  • Quinoa and avocado, or brown rice and an organic egg
  • Mini frittata with spinach, carrot and goats cheese
  • Drinks – coconut water, raspberry leaf tea, diluted cloudy apple juice, homemade labour aid. Sometimes other drinks are managed better than water. Avoid drinks high in sugar or caffeine
  • Clear soup such as bone broth or miso soup
  • If feeling like a sweet hit – spoonful of honey or piece of dark chocolate
  • Avoid fatty, rich or spicy foods, & strong smelling foods – this includes your support person too.

#3: Support in labour

Comfort in labour can come in the form of support, which might be emotional and physical. Who you have to support you during labour can impact your birth experience, either in a positive or negative sense. Studies show that women with good support have shorter, less painful labours, with less medical intervention. 

Think carefully about who could offer you the support you need to feel comfort in labour. There will be moments you will feel very vulnerable, afraid, or even lost. You may need someone to ask questions, draw out information and make sure your wishes are being heard and honoured.

Choose someone who nourishes you in your daily life. Your partner, your children, your mum, your sister, a friend. You could also choose an independent midwife or doula to guide you through the experience of childbirth.

Sarah Goldberg, founding Director of Nurtured Birth, is a doula and she has shared some tips for support as comfort in labour:

  • Touch – simple and firm, holding the space, calming and soothing you, holding your hands.
  • Massage – of the back, shoulders and neck, legs. Especially the lower back and sacral region to reduce muscle tension and distract from contractions.
  • Encouragement – emotional support is key. A labouring woman needs to stay focused as she works hard to birth her baby. At times it’s normal to feel really confronted and tired. Encouragement and attention help you feel held, cared for and safe. This promotes the production of oxytocin. Oxytocin is the love hormone and needed in peak levels to cause contractions which open the cervix and bringing the baby down and out. 
  • Environment – create a loving, relaxed space with the right team of people, where you can laugh and feel joy, and aim to make it a precious memorable life experience. 
  • Physical support – helps to make you physically comfortable, stay connected to your breath,  help you to stay active, perhaps even dancing, support in upright & active positions, encourage you to try new positions. 
  • Support people – let others take on practical tasks, like getting heat packs or cool washers, making sure you are sipping water and nibbling food that will keep you going. Running a bath, hanging out in the shower, making sure the lights are low, adjusting music or  applying tens machine.  

#4: Sensory comfort 

Our human spirit needs nourishment and encouragement, especially in challenging moments during labour. What lifts your spirit, affects you positively and fills up your cup? Bring those special elements into your birth space to provide comfort in labour.

Some sensory comfort in labour ideas you might like to explore:

  • Visual stimuli – pictures or photographs that evoke emotions, assist focus and meditation, affirmations practiced during pregnancy.
  • Breathing – practice deep breathing techniques during pregnancy to create a habit of using this in labour, to promote deep relaxation during labour.
  • Encouragement – appropriate encouragement in words or touch that is nurturing, supportive and strengthening.
  • Music – sound can be a good distraction and very relaxing, or uplifting to promote energy. 
  • Rest and sleep – allow your body and mind to rest in between contractions, especially in the first active stage of labour, to build up energy reserves.
  • Scents – essential oils can offer support and calm, assisting you through each stage of labour, providing nurture, strength and positivity. 
  • Pain management techniques – coping with contraction pain can be assisted with the use of a tens machine, acupuncture or acupressure.
  • Comfort items – these might be special to you, such as a blanket, clothes, warm socks, a favourite throw rug, your own pillow.

Make sure your time in labour is a positive experience by surrounding yourself with all forms of nourishment. Comfort in labour can be found with one or many of these 4 simple ways to nourish yourself.

If you need help in finding what are the right choices for you, consider some childbirth education classes. Nurtured Birth offers private birth education sessions in the comfort of your own home or via online conferencing. Please contact us for more information. 

Written by Sharon Clarke, Remedial Therapist at Nurtured Birth

Boost Your Immune System During Covid-19

While we are spending a lot of time at home to stay safe, it is the perfect time to boost your immune system during Covid-19 isolation. 

Take the opportunity to nourish and support ourselves and our families with nutritional food and immune boosting recipes.

Boost Your Immune System During Covid-19

There is plenty you can do to boost your immune system with simple and natural solutions you can practice at home. 

Manage your stress levels

Many of us are feeling anxious and worried about Covid-19 and its effects. We’re exposed to a lot of media daily about the toll the virus is taking on our global community as well as our personal lives. 

However, too much stress increases the hormone cortisol, which in turn acts to suppress the immune system. So reducing stress is an important step to keeping yourself healthy and well. 

Consider limiting your exposure to social media and news media to lower your anxiety.

Daily mindfulness, yoga or medication are wonderful ways to reduce your stress levels and have a positive impact on your immune system.

Practising good hygiene habits

One of the best ways to prevent being infected is to practice good hygiene. This stops infection from being transmitted and spread to others as well.

Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Avoid touching your mouth, eyes or face, dispose of used tissues in a closed bin, and ensure you sneeze or cough into the crook of your elbow or a tissue (not your hands!)

Rest and sleep

A healthy immune function is very dependent on sleep. Lack of sleep can suppress your immune system and people who are stressed or worried are more likely to be sleep deprived.

Give your body a chance to gather strength and make sure you get a good night’s sleep. If you feel rundown or if you become unwell, rest is vitally important to allow your immune system the energy to fight off infection.

Eat warm, nourishing foods

We’re now heading into the colder months which is a perfect time to focus on eating warm and nourishing foods. A balanced diet rich in protein, good fats, fibre, antioxidants and phytonutrients can boost your immune system during Covid-19 times. 

This is as simple as eating two serves of fruit, six to eight serves of vegetables daily and including a variety of whole grains, healthy fats and protein at each meal. Following these basic guidelines ensures you receive a range of essential vitamins and minerals to support your immune system

Homemade chicken and vegetable soup can help break down mucus that often comes with colds and flus. If you don’t have an appetite, the broth alone will provide minerals and vitamins to give you strength.

Eat your vitamins and minerals

Eat the rainbow to get all those fabulous, immune boosting phytonutrients and antioxidants.

Yellow and orange fruit and vegetables such as sweet potatoes, butternut squash and beetroot are rich in beta-carotene which our bodies convert to vitamin A. We need vitamin A to keep the mucosal linings in our nose and lungs robust enough to defend against infection. Other foods to include are orange and red fruits such as oranges, mango, apricots and melon.

Zinc not only supports our immune system and exerts an antiviral action, it also helps maintain the integrity of the skin and mucous membranes. Which means zinc may reduce airway inflammation, along with vitamin A. 

We know vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased susceptibility to infection. Keeping your levels primed is one of the most important measures you can take to boost your immune system during Covid-19. Vitamin D is essential for a healthy functioning immune system.

It’s believed that vitamin D helps stimulate the production of peptide – substances in the body that are able to fight off bacteria, fungi and viruses. We make vitamin D when our skin is exposed to sunlight. But this time of year it might not be possible to get enough sun exposure. 

Dietary sources of vitamin D include eggs, butter and fatty fish but it is challenging to obtain recommended levels from food alone, so supplements are generally needed. 

Move your body

To be immunologically fit, you need to be physically fit, so keep moving!  Regular exercise is a great way to support the immune system, and this may be due to various different mechanisms.

As exercise can help support good circulation, this allows our immune cells to travel through the body more effectively. These immune cells seem to be stimulated by even mild exercise.

Another of the many happy side-effects of exercise is that it reduces stress, something that also keeps your immune system healthy and strong. Aim for a minimum of twenty minutes of exercise daily.

And exercising outdoors boosts the levels of good bacteria in your gut by up to 40%! Another excellent reason to get out into the fresh air and move around.

Reduce inflammation

It’s easy to reach for the unhealthy snacks that make us feel good momentarily, but we need to focus on what is better for ourselves in the long-term, making choices to provide us with protection, strength and energy.

The food we eat influences our immune responses to infection. So focusing on our nutrition is one of the best things we can do to boost our immune system during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Sugar, processed meat, vegetable oils, alcohol and white, refined carbohydrates tend to be inflammatory and can suppress the immune function. 

Foods such as garlic, ginger, onion and chilli to help fight off illness, warm you up and reduce inflammation. So include plenty of these in your daily diet. 

Stay hydrated

Remember fluids are very important to keep your immune system at its best. Water, bone broth or herbal teas are nourishing and help you to keep your fluid levels optimal. 

A handy Ayurvedic tip from a special yogi friend of mine, Lisa Moor, and one that is practiced extensively in Japan called Ugai, is gargling. Gargling can assist keeping mucus membranes lubricated, or if you have a sore or dry throat. 

Mix the following ingredients, then gargle the liquid for 30 seconds and spit out.

  • 1/4 tsp of good salt
  • 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar
  • Some warm water

Support your gut health

Up to 80% of our gut houses the cells that make up our immune system so it makes very good sense to support your gut health by boosting health bacteria.

  • Include fermented foods in your diet
  • Cut sugar
  • Eat a variety of plant-based foods, aim for 40 different types weekly!
  • Bone broth is rich in collagen and glutamine and naturally supports good gut health. 

Clean your phone

If you are anything like me you will be touching you phone very regularly making it a bastion of germs and potentially the coronavirus.

So just as you would think of washing your hands regularly, you need to wipe down your phone with alcohol wipes.

Love Lindy xx


Chicken Broth from The Healthy Chef


  • 1.2 kg organic or free range chicken carcass
  • 6 litres filtered water
  • ½ teaspoon flaked sea salt
  • 2 tbsp thinly sliced ginger
  • 1 onion, cut in half and gently charred in a hot dry pan
  • 300 g carrot
  • 100 g celery
  • 2 organic chicken breast fillets
  • ¼ teaspoon toasted sesame oil

To serve:

  • 600 g Savoy Cabbage, cut into 150 g wedges (see notes)
  • handful spring onion, sliced
  • handful coriander leaves to garnish


  1. Place chicken carcass into a stock pot with 6 litres of filtered water.
  2. Add sea salt, onion, carrot, ginger and celery.
  3. Simmer partially covered over a low heat for 5 hours, skimming the broth regularly to remove any surface fat and scum.
  4. Strain the stock through a fine muslin.
  5. Refrigerate overnight and remove all the excess fat that solidifies over the top.

To serve…

  1. Heat the stock and add the Chicken breast.
  2. Gently poach the chicken for 12 minutes or until cooked through.
  3. Remove and slice thinly.
  4. Trim the Savoy cabbage then cut into 4 large wedges.
  5. Pour 1 cup of the chicken stock into a large pan and bring to the boil.
  6. Add the cabbage wedges and cover with a tight fitting lid.
  7. Cook for 5 minutes until tender but still crisp.
  8. Transfer cabbage into serving bowls and add the sliced chicken breast.
  9. Pour over the bone broth and garnish with spring onion and coriander.



Add a little extra freshly grated or finely sliced ginger to garnish.

I love serving it in large bowls as a main course meal and add seasonal vegetables of the moment. I’ve used delicious Savoy Cabbage for this recipe, but it goes delightfully well with other garden vegetables such as baby carrot, wilted cavolo nero, snow pea or zucchini noodles

Author: Lindy Cook, Naturopath at Nurtured  Birth

10 Easy Ways To Improve Your Family’s Gut Health

If you’re aiming to support the health of your family, focusing on gut health is one of the best things you can do. 

Research has been looking at the importance of the community of microorganisms (microbiome) that exists in our digestive systems, and how it’s connected to our health and wellbeing. 

A healthy microbiome can influence the current and future health of your family, with emerging evidence showing links to allergies, eczema, the immune system, as well as behaviour and even neurological disorders.

Good digestive health is important for everyone in the family, lowering the risk of developing diseases or disorders now and in their future. Improving your gut health supports your well-being naturally. 

A healthy microbiome needs a balance of the right amount of friendly bacteria against the not so friendly flora. And the more diverse your gut microbiome is, the more likely it will be balanced in your favour – meaning you stay well and avoid future health problems.

Don’t just assume taking a probiotic will improve gut health and that’s all you need to do to support your family’s health. While probiotic supplements might be helpful, research hasn’t yet proven the bacteria in them reach your gut intact.

Most probiotics also contain a limited number of bacteria strains. You may already have enough of certain strains and actually need others, but the only way to tell is to have your stool analysed. Not something everyone does before spending money on supplements. 

And even if probiotic supplements do have health benefits, they aren’t the only way you can improve and maintain your family’s gut health. 

Building good gut health

Following are 10 ways you can make changes now or build on to improve the current and future health of your family. 

  1. Women can improve their child’s future health by making changes to their diet and lifestyle during pregnancy. Support from a naturopath can pinpoint appropriate changes that will increase the beneficial bacteria your baby will be exposed to during birth and afterwards.
  2. If you are having a baby, aim to give birth without or very minimal interventions. Babies born by c-section have different gut flora to those born vaginally and are more likely to have related health problems later in life. If a c-section is necessary, focus on plenty of skin to skin and breastfeeding afterwards, to help ‘seed’ your baby with your good bacteria.
  3. Breastfeed exclusively for the first six months of your baby’s life. Breastmilk is the perfect source of nutrition, antibodies and prebiotics needed to nourish your baby’s microbiome. It also helps to protect the gut lining, which is still permeable, and prevent bad bacteria from causing illness or immune problems in their future.
  4. The simplest and easiest way to increase bacteria diversity is to be around different types, and being in nature exposes you to a huge variety of flora. Children who play outdoors in the dirt and with animals have more robust immune systems and are less likely to have allergies etc. Another reason to get your family outside as often as you can to improve your health.
  5. Probiotics are the foods or supplements that contain live bacteria. Prebiotics are the foods that ‘feed’ your existing gut bacteria. So it makes sense you need to eat foods that contain prebiotics to help the good bacteria thrive. Prebiotics are foods with indigestible fibre, such as asparagus, garlic, onions, leeks, bananas, apples, barley and oats.
  6. Move your body. Exercise increases the amount of beneficial bacteria in your digestive system by up to 40%! Get your family active more often and preferably outside where you are exposed to a wider variety of bacteria.
  7. Go easy on the cleaning! Antibacterial soaps, wipes and disinfectants all kill the good bacteria we need for healthy immune systems and gut health. Plain soap and water to wash your children’s hands is fine. A little dirt never hurt!
  8. Avoid antibiotics unless absolutely. Antibiotics have a place in modern medicine but they’re often overprescribed. Keep your family’s immune system functioning to the best of its ability with good gut health as most of our IgA antibodies are made in the gut. IgA is the first line of defense against harmful bacteria and they promote the growth of a healthy microbiome. If you or a member of your family does need antibiotics, follow up with a multi-strain probiotic for at least a month afterwards.
  9. Ditch the processed foods like junk food and sweets or aim to keep them to a minimum. These foods aren’t nutritionally beneficial and they create a hostile environment in your gut for good bacteria. The more you and your family eat of these processed foods, the balance of bacteria changes in favour of unfriendly flora, undermining digestion and health.
  10. Get plenty of dietary probiotics. Live or cultured yoghurts, fermented vegetables such as kimchi, sauerkraut or natto, or drinks such as kefir and kombucha. It hasn’t been proven that the bacteria from these foods actually reaches the gut intact. However, in countries where these foods are traditionally eaten, people seem to have better gut health and a lower incidence of bowel disease.

If you would like to know more about how to support your family’s health and how improving gut health may benefit you, contact Nurtured Birth here

Author: Sam McCulloch, Wordsmith at Nurtured Birth