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Countless factors affect how your child acts and feels on any given day. Fatigue, blood sugar levels, hunger, diet and stage of development all play a role. But one overlooked factor when it comes to behavioural problems is gut health.

Poor gut health can contribute to or worsen your child’s behavioural issues. But by addressing gut health, you may be able to improve their symptoms – which means a happier family!

Watch the video below or keep reading to learn more about the link between gut health and behavioural problems.

How Gut Health Can Affect Your Child’s Behavioural Problems

The gut-brain connection

When it comes to gut health and behaviour, much of it comes back to the gut-brain connection.

What is the gut-brain connection? Put simply, it is the gut and brain ‘talking’ via the vagus nerve.

We’ve all experienced this connection in action before. When you’re angry or sad, you might feel sick. When you’re nervous, you might have ‘butterflies’ or loose bowel movements. Our emotions have a direct impact on our gut.

This relationship goes both ways. It’s been found that the microbes in our gut can ‘talk to’ the brain. This is thought to affect the production of neurotransmitters, or brain chemicals.

Brain chemicals such as serotonin, dopamine and GABA are essential for mental health. But an imbalance in these chemicals is linked to lower diversity in gut bacteria. We know that high diversity is important for overall health, but this suggests that it has a specific impact on mental health.

Improving diversity could help rebalance these brain chemicals, improving mental health. Research suggests using probiotics can improve conditions such as anxiety, depression, bipolar and even schizophrenia.

We know that our mood affects our behaviour. So if your child’s behaviour is less than ideal, their gut may be involved. But if you address their gut health, their behaviour may improve.

Behavioural problems in autism and ADHD

Behaviour is often a particular challenge when it comes to kids with ADHD or autism.

Research has previously shown that kids with autism or ADHD often have less diverse gut microbes. It’s not known which comes first – the lack of diversity, or the behaviour and food choices. However, studies suggest that addressing gut health could be key to reducing behavioural issues.

Many children with autism have some type of chronic gut health issue. They often experience constipation, irregular bowel movements and tummy pain.

When we work with kids on the spectrum to address gut health, we often see their mood and behaviour improve. They become less aggressive, more interactive, or have improvements in communication.

Research backs up what we see in the clinic daily. With one trial, children with autism were given a faecal transplant. The idea was to ‘donate’ more diverse bacteria to their gut. The results were astounding. There was a 45% reduction in symptoms such as language, social interactions and behaviour. Even 2 years post-treatment, symptoms continued to improve.

Behavioural problems in toddlers

The gut-behaviour link can be seen even in a toddler! One study found that a toddler’s temperament is affected by their gut microbes. This is thought to contribute to toddler tantrums.

We know that tantrums involve other factors such as learning limits and boundaries. But this study showed that positive behavioural traits were linked with more diverse gut microbes. The researchers concluded that microbes can modulate the stress response and affect how toddlers interact with new people and situations.


As the link between gut health and mental health is an emerging field, more research is needed. But diverse gut microbes can protect your overall health and play a role in mental health.


Get your kids off to a good start to the day with our delicious breakfast recipes.

Grab Your Copy: 3 Breakfast Recipes To Improve Your Kid’s Mood & Behaviour

Download Your Copy Here








Nothing in this blog post constitutes or substitutes for professional or medical advice. Whilst Jessica Donovan (the Naturopath behind Natural Super Kids) is a registered health practitioner, she is not your health practitioner. Any health advice given by Jessica Donovan (or by any other person representing Natural Super Kids) is based on that person’s opinion and their general professional experience, but not your specific case. As such, you should always seek the advice of your own health professionals before acting on something that is recommended by Natural Super Kids. For our full disclaimer, please visit: