Improving microbiome health during the summer holidays

Summer has officially arrived and with that comes the school summer holidays. As a parent a part of you may dread thinking up ideas of what to do with the kids. So, we’ve come up with a few creative ideas! All these activities have the added benefit of being outside and revealing you and your family to less sterile environments, which in turn may support your microbiome through exposure to a wider variety of bacteria. As well as top tips for day activities, we’ve also come up with a few gut friendly BBQ ideas for those long summer evenings.

Find treasure with GeoCaching

Known as the world’s largest treasure hunt, GeoCaching is an outdoor bounty hunting game in which you use a GPS enabled device to track down treasure which other GeoCachers have left behind.

To go GeoCaching just download the app for free and go on a family adventure to find your nearest Geocache. Remember to put the GeoCache back where you found it or replace it with something you want to leave for others to find.

Not only is this great for teaching skills like map reading, but it also has the benefit of getting everyone outdoors and discovering new places around your local area.

Make your BBQ more gut healthy

Having a picnic or BBQ is a great summer activity, for parents and children alike, if the weather permits! Although BBQ’s can revolve around meat and bread, there’s no reason why this has to be the case. To make it healthier you can simply add in some gut friendly salads to accompany your BBQ.

Sauerkraut salad – You can quickly knock this one up as an accompaniment to burgers and sausages, as well as a delicious standalone salad. As sauerkraut is a fermented food it feeds good bacteria in the gut, helping the health of your microbiome. Check out this recipe from Eve Kalinik that you can try making at home or for your next BBQ!

Sweet potato salad – Another easy to follow recipe and really good for you. Sweet potatoes are packed full of fibre and contain beta carotene, which when digested converts into vitamin A. 100g of sweet potato contains 283% of your recommended daily vitamin A intake.

Chickpea salad – Chickpeas are high in fibre and protein as well as a good source of carbs, all of which are essential for maintaining a healthy lifestyle and gut. This salad combines the chickpeas with olives, pepper and feta in a lemon and olive oil dressing.

Challenge your family with a maize maze

If you’ve never visited a maize maze – you must! These are corn fields which have been shaped into puzzle mazes, where the aim is to go to the centre and then find your way out. Most maize mazes have kids’ activities included, which are usually challenges to complete within them.

Some mazes have really inventive patterns. The York Maize Maze has shaped theirs into two giant dinosaurs!

To find a maze near you visit this website and plug in your postcode.

Fruit picking

A lot of Farm shops, garden centres and farms offer ‘buy what you pick’ fruit picking, which can be a great way to get the family outdoors and educate younger children about where food comes from and how it’s grown. Also, there’s nothing better than eating something you’ve picked yourself!

Crops in the summer are usually raspberries, corn, strawberries, blackcurrants and redcurrants. Which can all be made into delicious gut friendly dishes or eaten there and then!

Go camping in nature

Camping is some people’s dream and others nightmare. When it comes to camping with a family, being organised and having more than just the essentials of a tent and sleeping bag can make the trip a lot more fun.

The pragmatic parent blog has some nifty tips and tricks for organising a family camping trip.

Whilst a well organised camping trip can be lots of fun, it also has other benefits too. The lack of battery chargers, or dodgy signal means you should be limiting the use of your phone, and therefore social media sites. Studies have shown that overuse of social media platforms can lead to feelings of anxiety, so going camping might be just want you need!

Looking at phones too near to bedtime can also impact the quality of sleep, whereas rising and going to bed with the sun (as you are more likely to do when camping) has a positive effect on circadian rhythms.

Hopefully this blog had given you some ideas of what you can do with your family over the summer holidays. All the activities listed have the added benefit getting your family into the great outdoors, which has been shown to improve mental and physical wellbeing and help the health of the microbiome through exposure to less sterile environments. All very good reasons to get outside as a family!

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