Kids and the importance of what they eat


Often when kids get their hands on sugary snacks, our first concern is the impending hyperactive sugar rush and subsequent crash. This is just one example of how what we eat impacts our behaviors. What most parents are not aware of is how what we feed ourselves and our kids can impact mental health as well. 

Every person has a gut microbiome made up of bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms that help to keep our bodies healthy and functioning. These organisms are responsible for assisting with many bodily functions like breaking down food compounds, being a catalyst for the immune system and building certain vitamins and amino acids. Along with these jobs, your gut microbiome also influences the brain and its functioning. Your “gut-brain axis” operates through many pathways (e.g., neurotransmitter synthesis, vagus nerve stimulation, etc.). 

Research has shown that some psychiatric symptoms are related to lower amounts of specific types of microorganisms in your gut microbiome. Simply put, the level of diversity in your gut microbiome is connected to your mental and emotional wellbeing. So, what can be done to aid the development of a diverse microbiome in families?

  • Increasing fiber intake.
  • Eating more colorful fruits and vegetables.
  • Including antioxidant rich foods like broccoli, spinach, carrots, and potatoes in your diet.
  • Eating fermented foods like yogurt, kimchi, and pickled vegetables.
  • Consuming vitamin supplements including Vitamins B12, A, C, B1 and B6.

As you increase your family’s intake of these “good mood foods,” you may begin to notice differences in mood and behavior. Remember to be patient as building a healthy, happy gut microbiome takes time.

Submitted by Chynna M. Dubuclet, M.A.

Chynna M. Dubuclet, M.A.
Chynna M. Dubuclet is a graduate student in Northern Illinois University’s Clinical Psychology Ph.D. program. Her major areas of clinical and research interest include child development, parenting, and trauma. Chynna’s therapeutic approach is grounded in the cognitive-behavioral framework, and she utilizes associated evidence-based treatments. Additionally, she considers the systems that clients exist in (e.g., school, home, extracurriculars) when considering the course of treatment. In her free time, Chynna enjoys walks in nature, finding new places to eat, and hanging with family and friends.

To schedule an appointment with Chynna or any of our clinicians, please get in touch with our intake department at 630.355.9002 x1 or to schedule an appointment.