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It’s trick-or-treating time again, and candy sales are soaring. Skittles, Starbursts, and Sour Patch Kids are among the most popular… and while their shapes and flavors vary, they all have one thing in common:

They’re all almost pure sugar, with a side of artificial colors and flavors.

The average Halloween trick or trick bounty amounts to about three cups of sugar per child.

That sugar megadose can have effects beyond the immediate sugar high, stomachache, and trouble sleeping. It can lead to longer-term gut issues including gas, bloating, and diarrhea that can last for days.

Worse, that super sugar high can set the stage for health issues through the whole winter cold and flu season, making your kiddos more vulnerable to the myriad infections are floating around. Next up is Thanksgiving with pies and rolls and then the holiday season with copious amounts of cookies, candies, and confections. 

Did you know that your phagocytes (the “Pac-Men” eating all the bad bacteria and viruses in our immune system) are severely decreased for five hours after eating 100 grams of sugar? 

Halloween is your gut microbiome’s least favorite holiday

A decent Halloween haul packed with sugar can easily knock your child’s gut microbiome out of balance in a flash.

A healthy gut contains trillions of diverse beneficial probiotic bacteria and a small population of harmful pathogens that are kept in check. When the gut microbiome is in balance, those probiotic bacteria provide numerous health benefits, from improved immune function to healthy digestion to better focus in school.

But when your child’s gut falls out of balance – a condition called dysbiosis – be ready for a wide variety of physical, mental, and emotional health issues. 

In dysbiosis, pathogens vastly outnumber probiotics. Those harmful bacteria produce toxins, trigger inflammation, and undermine your child’s wellbeing. And it doesn’t take much to tip the balance toward dysbiosis, especially during the Halloween (and December holiday) sugar season.

In fact, studies show that children with dysbiosis can suffer from both immediate and chronic health problems including: 

• Anxiety and depression

• ADHD

• Behavioral problems

• Recurring respiratory tract infections

• Persistent diarrhea

• Asthma

• Chronic constipation

Thankfully, when you know how to properly support the gut, you can help your child stay centered and healthy in this or any sugar season. This goes for us grown-ups too!

• Eat a nutrient-dense, whole foods diet with an emphasis on vegetables. 

• Cut back on processed foods and fast foods. 

• Stop sodas and drinks with artificial sweeteners, like aspartame, sucralose, and acesulfame potassium. 

• Eat at least 1 tbsp of fermented foods daily, like kimchi, fresh kraut, kefir, fermented veggies, or plant-based yogurt. You can also add a probiotic. 

These tips can help you stay focused and away from the sugar this holiday season. If you need more support, meal plans, or nutritional therapy this fall, let’s chat. I can be reached at www.UnlockBetterHealth.com.

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