Expert Paediatric Nutritionist Reveals Top Tips To Improve Gut Health in Children


We know that ‘good bacteria’ is important for maintaining a healthy digestive system but there can be much wider benefits too. As well as helping allergies, eczema, and the immune system clinical trials have now suggested links between a child’s microbiome and toddler behaviour as well as autism spectrum disorders. Microbiome is a community (biome) of microorganisms that, in this instance, exist in the gut and are crucial to digestion and general wellbeing. Today on the blog, certified Paediatric Nutritionist Mandy Sacher, our Kids Health Expert, shares the best ways to boost gut health for the whole family.


Digestive health is so important for all the family that it is well worth making some changes to look after your guts’ microbiomes, and not all of them are diet related. It’s good to know that your child grubbing around in the mud and playing with animals is actually healthy, and even better that too much cleaning can actually be bad – antibacterial wipes and disinfectants kill the good bacteria needed to promote a healthy immune system and gut. Simple steps like eating fermented foods along with basic diet improvements can really help gut flora so it’s an easy win for everyone’s health.


Top 5 probiotic-rich foods


  1. Probiotic Yoghurt: ‘Live’, ‘cultured’ yogurt is a great source of probiotics but all yoghurts are not created equal – look out for organic and grass fed to maximise the health benefit.
  2. Kefir, coconut or dairy: Though very similar to yoghurt, kefir is made with yeast and packed with even more probiotics. More tart than yogurt it might need sweetening with fresh fruit for younger children…the name means ‘good feeling’ so it should be worth it.
  3. Fermented veggies (kimchi, sauerkraut): Fermented veggies are an excellent addition because they help create the right environment for the growth of good bacteria to thrive through their organic acids and enzymes. Try our fermented carrot recipe.
  4. Natto: This traditional Japanese dish of fermented soy-beans is an acquired taste but super healthy with protein, fibre, vitamins and the probiotic bacillus subtilis, which is also present in soil.
  5. Kombucha: Made with a SCOBY or symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast this fermented tea is lauded for its health benefits – especially digestive health and liver detoxification among many others but it is not recommended during pregnancy, breast feeding or for those with a suppressed immune system as it is hard to keep germ free.


Building blocks of gut health:


  • Even before giving birth, pregnant mothers can do ground work by improving their own diet with natural probiotics and perhaps taking a probiotic supplement.
  • Breastfeed if you can, it is good for your baby’s gut flora. This is especially important for those infants born by caesarean section as their gut flora is different so talk to your doctor about taking a high dose probiotic while breast feeding, or if you are using formula look for one with prebiotics and probiotics.
  • Serve loads of vegetables, a good source of prebiotic fibre that helps good bacteria thrive. Aim for your children to have veggie snacks as well as including vegetables in meals. You’ll find practical tips for encouraging your children to eat more vegetables in  Wholesome Child: A Complete Nutrition Guide and Cookbook and on our Website.
  • Ditch the disinfectant and embrace the mud pies. Children need to be exposed to good bacteria so mud, dogs and plain soap (NOT antibacterial) with water are all good.
  • Avoid unnecessary antibiotics. Talk to your GP about the importance of protecting your child’s gut flora and ensure they only prescribe antibiotics when necessary. If your child, or any member of your family, is put onto a course of antibiotics they should follow up with a high strength multi-strain probiotic for a month afterwards. Look for multi-strain brands, that contain bifidocbacterium and lactobacillus for kids.
  • Keep junk food and unhealthy sweets to a minimum, they are the opposite of prebiotics as they help create a hostile environment for good bacteria. This will have a negative impact on the microbiome and so your child’s digestion and wider health.


Setting out to support your family’s health through maintaining the health of their microbiome is a really achievable goal. Start by saving money in the supermarket and leaving antibacterial wipes on the shelf, then take a look at your family’s diet. Even small changes can make a big difference.


Looking for more gut-friendly tips? Try my Cleanest Gut eBook!


Mandy Sacher is a certified Paediatric Nutritionist and Founder of Wholesome Child. Her clinical practice focuses on prenatal and childhood nutrition, helping parents and mums-to-be-feed their children healthy, nourishing foods right from the start.

She has appeared recently on Channel Ten’s Everyday Health and is currently writing her first book, The Wholesome Child Nutrition Guide and Recipe Book, which will be available to purchase mid-April. All views expressed are Mandy’s own.





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Hi Jessica, I believe in synchronicity so when I was guided to you .on FB I was intrigued and inspired. I turned 46 last week and my husband bought me your book. I wanted to thank you for sharing your wisdom in such a beautifully presented way. My  copy is now filled with tabs and post it notes with actual notes throughout. I am dairy intolerant since having my gallbladder removed 15+ years ago, I don't eat meat, very minimal gluten and was told 12 months ago my gut was not digesting my food properly so I wasn't receiving sufficient nutrients and taking supplements would be a waste of time.  My weight fluctuates tending to gain rather than lose but now I believe I have a tool to help me bring my body back into balance that I need for my health and longevity of life - so again thank you. The first few steps to creating a stronger path forward for my health has found its foundation in your beautiful book, The Healthy Life.

With kindest regards Samantha

I'm writing this email because I wanted to tell you how much I love your blog and how you really helped me in my health journey. Thank you for sharing all your advices and experiences.

When I started my studies, I was drinking lots of coffee and I was eaten the wrong foods, and feel bad about it, I wasn't at my best. So I had done some research on the net but at first I didn't found advices that are for me, and then I found your blog. It was exactly what I was looking for, good advices and healthy recipes. Now I'm following your advices on rest more, and snacks between meals and prep the meals and take time for myself to reconnect with my body and let go my anxiety, etc, and I have a more balanced life and have a new relationship with food thanks to you.

I bought your book and it's honestly the best book I have ever bought. I suffer from IBS and anxiety. I have paid so much money seeing naturopaths however after reading your book and all of your tips I'm noticing so much of a difference, so simple and easy to follow. And symptoms have dramatically decreased. Also you have helped me to relax. Currently drinking the protein health smoothie! Thankyou your amazing.


Hey Jessica!
I haven’t yet brought ‘The Healthy Life’, but I do have the clean life and your slim down plan! I would like to thank you so much for the knowledge your share and the message you put across about health and wellness. I’m studying Nutritional Medicine in Melbourne and absolutely love the philosophy that you share with your JSHealth community. The work you’ve done to show people that leading a healthy lifestyle isn’t boring, tasteless, difficult or depriving is amazing and hope to share the message myself one day. You’ve inspired me to start my own blog , to share the message and have taught me so many things about my own health! You should be proud of your achievements! Thank you again

- Jacinta

I searched for help and tips through the Internet and found Jessica Sepel. This is seriously not exaggerated, but she was the reason why I have dared myself to eat again, to have snacks in between, to nourish my body. I could slowly improve my negative thoughts about my body image and my stupid anxiety of gaining weight. Besides, The Cleanest Gut was awesome too! A huge thank you! Especially from my mum. Seriously, without you I wouldn’t be where I am now!


Congratulations on your new book! It looks absolutely gorgeous. I’ve been following you on Instagram for a few years and you’ve inspired me to slowly but surely eat healthier without giving myself a hard time when I don’t. It made me so happy (and weirdly proud) to see the Daily Mail article on The Healthy Life. I remember trying out your recipes before you even had your eBook out! I can’t wait to get my hands on the book. Keep up the great work.

– Sophie

Cooking in this way truly brought out the foodie in me and has instilled a huge passion for health and wellness! Life throws you hard and frustrating things sometimes but I truly believe that this is where we learn more about ourselves and what our passions in life are! Thank you for inspiring me on my journey to health and wellness!


I am a yoga teacher in Johannesburg and am thrilled to have bought your book today. I love making healthy, nutritious food for my family, friends and fellow yogis! Thank you for this book and your inspiration (had to share a pic of my book on my recipe stand in the kitchen).

– Helene

I bought your beautiful book during the week and told my bestie to go out and buy it also! I love love love it. It is the book I would give to my younger self if I could (I am 41 years old). Everything is just so sensible and informative and is definitely a book all teenagers should have. This should be a text book for girls becoming teens. I will love going back and re-reading it many many times and can't wait to make more of the recipes. Thank you Jess - you are an incredibly inspiring woman and you should feel so proud

Michelle Curtis

My fiancé bought your book and we have cooked some of your meals. Amazing! I love your outlook on a healthy lifestyle and your hints and tips with preparing tasty meals are fantastic. Thanks for reviving us to live a healthier lifestyle and get our bodies wedding ready.