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Probiotics + the brain. What adoptive parents need to know.

The first thing foster and adoptive parents need to know about probiotics and your child’s brain, is that you can’t cure their behavior or mood problems. It’s important we start out not trying to fix our kids so we can feel better. When our happiness is built on a solid foundation of faith and acceptance of who our kids are right now, then we are ready to help them.

I say these things from living in full time “fix them mode” with my adopted kids for about five years. I didn’t realize it at the time, but that was my plan for joy. Fix all their problems and then I could not feel so terrible all the time.

If you are looking to fix your child with every new pill, diet, therapy, and internet pony trick, just stop. Go pick yourself up a copy of Faith Forward Adoption on Amazon, and learn the secret of internal joy not based on your child’s circumstances. Your own wholeness is the best gift you will ever give your family.

Okay, now that we have our mindsets straight, let’s learn about the power of probiotics and your child’s brain.

The gut, or digestive system has rightly been called “the second brain.” Scientifically called the enteric nervous system, it consists of 100 million neurons with its own reflexes, senses, and can control behavior independently of the brain. 95% of serotonin, our happiness neurotransmitter, is produced not in our brain, but in our digestive system.

Stress, poor diets of processed foods and refined carbohydrates, antibiotic use, cesarian birth, and bottle feeding can all lead to an imbalance of harmful bacteria in the digestive system. Every person in our modern world has some of the risk factors, especially our kiddos who have lived through trauma and neglect.

There is good news. You can improve the ecosystem of bacteria in your child’s gut and positively impact their health, no matter what happened in the past.

The first step is to feed the gut probiotic rich foods like kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut and kombucha. Containing trillions of healthy microbes, these foods when consumed on a regular basis will help restore the balance in their digestive system.

Supplements are okay, but fermented foods have shown to be significantly more effective, and budget friendly too. Our family’s favorite way to get more “good bugs” in on a regular basis is whole milk kefir. I bought kefir grains on amazon, and have used both whole milk from the store and safety tested raw milk from our local farmer.

Every few days I strain the kefir grains from the milk and end up with incredible kefir, it’s like a drinkable yogurt. We use it in smoothies with frozen berries, a handful of spinach, and a banana or frozen pineapple to add sweetness. You can also buy pre made kefir or good quality yogurt at the store.

I noticed fewer meltdowns, less irritability, and more harmony in our home when we made this change. In addition to supporting healthy neurotransmitters, a healthy gut also contributes to better immune function.

We went an entire cold and flu season without illness. This was a huge win in our large family with an immune suppressed kiddo.

In addition to adding probiotic foods, eating less refined foods and simple carbohydrates will starve the harmful bacteria most of us have an over abundance of. If you want to nerd out on this topic, one of my favorite resources is Dr. Axe.

Will probiotic smoothies cure your kiddo? I doubt it. They are still human being with a history that began before you. Accepting their past and it’s present effect on them, is part of loving the whole of who they are.

What I can tell you is that every human being will benefit from better digestive health, especially our kids. Let’s give them every chance we can, without stressing over perfect diets or fixing them. Balance is key!