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Half term: fun ideas to boost gut health

With children all over the UK enjoying the October half term this week, we wanted to give you some ideas of fun things to do that will keep them busy AND support their gut health at the same time!

It is now well known that getting outside each day if possible is beneficial for health in a number of ways:

  • Morning sunlight helps to reset our circadian rhythm (our internal body clock) and provide some vitamin D in the summer
  • Interactions with soil, trees and plants are now being understood to benefit our gut health. By getting our hands dirty, and being exposed to the microorganisms present in nature all around us, we can boost our own beneficial bacteria
  • Being outdoors regularly is known to have a positive influence on our mental and immune health
  • Studies have shown that it can lower stress and anxiety, improve sleep and boost memory. Popular ways for adults to explore the benefits of nature include forest bathing, wild swimming and nature watching

While many of these studies are conducted on adults, two recent studies have shown that children who were exposed to nature on a daily basis had higher levels of beneficial skin and gut bacteria at the end of the experiment, as well as lowered stress and heightened immunity.

It appears that they can enjoy the same benefits from time in nature as adults. And all this, just from being outside in nature and – maybe for children in particular – getting dirty on a regular basis.

Sadly, our modern environment has been linked to decreased numbers of friendly gut bacteria and a state of dysbiosis. Children are often more happy to stay inside playing computer games or watching TV; may have a diet consisting mostly of processed foods; and have possibly already taken several courses of antibiotics in their young lives. All of these can lead to digestive issues that they may take with them into adulthood.

So this half term we encourage the children of the UK to get outside in nature as often as possible. Some ideas you could try are:

  • Plant some herbs for the kitchen windowsill – buy some pots, potting compost and herb seeds and grown your own!
  • Go for a nature walk – before you go, think of 20 things for each of you to try and find. These could include feathers, conkers, pine cones, a red leaf etc.
  • Climb a tree – please ensure that this is with parental supervision and to an age-appropriate height
  • Forage autumn fruit – can you find any remaining blackberries or sloes?
  • Build a den – find long sticks in the wood and construct a den. Maybe have a family competition to see whose is the sturdiest!
  • Make a bug hotel – gather sticks, leaves, pine cones etc. and make a hotel for your local bugs to use this winter (see below for detailed instructions)
  • Cook on a campfire – with adult supervision, collect dry sticks and leaves to start the fire, then enjoy sausages and toasted marshmallows for tea

The key is to interact with nature rather than observe it from afar. Get dirty, have fun and boost your beneficial bacteria at the same time.

Resources for more half term ideas

Autumn activities for all the family – National Trust
Build a bug hotel – RSPB

Want to know more?

ProVen Probiotics aim to provide the best support for both you and your health. If you wish to know more about gut health and staying healthy please do not hesitate to call us on 01639 825107 or alternatively, learn more via our blogs or in-depth ProVen research.

ProVen Probiotics, Unit 2 Christchurch Road, Baglan Industrial Park, Port Talbot, SA12 7DJ. Tel: 01639 825107

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