I am featuring Guest Blogger and fellow dietitian, Laura Belsito for this Grow with Nutrition Blog. This is Laura’s final blog in her three part series about kids, nutrition, cooking and nurturing healthy habits with your little ones. For this post Laura is sharing her expertise about strategies to improve your child’s digestive health. Let’s check out Laura’s top three tips for better digestive health for your kids.

Do you find your child is always complaining of tummy aches or notice things aren’t as “regular” as they should be? Making small changes in their diet and lifestyle can help clear things up! Three simple things can help improve your child’s digestive health and provide a variety of other health benefits such as improved immunity and more energy.

1.  Fibre

Did you know if your child is between the ages of 4-8 they need 25 grams of fibre per day? If they are older and between the ages of 9-13, they need up to 26-31 grams per day! Here are some easy solutions to achieve this through food that will have your child digestive system healthier and happier:

  • Add ½ cup (125ml) berries to their hot or cold cereal in the morning. This adds 2-4 grams of fibre to their meal.
  • Serve ½ cup (125ml) steel cut oats for breakfast rather than refined breakfast cereals. This can provide 8-10 grams of fibre.
  • Serve pasta dishes made with whole wheat spaghetti which gives you 6 grams of fibre per cup (250ml).
  • Add seeds to smoothies for a quick and taste free fibre boost. Adding 1 tablespoon (15ml) of chia seeds to a smoothie can add 5 grams of fibre and you don’t even notice they are there!
  • Serve raw veggies with hummus as a delicious and nutritious afterschool snack. Hummus has 2 grams of fibre for 2 tablespoons (30ml) and 1 cup (250ml) of raw veggies has approximately 2-4 grams of fibre.

2.  Probiotics

Many adults use probiotics to help with regularity, but they can also help children form a healthy digestive tract.

  • Probiotics are live, friendly bacteria that are beneficial for your health. These bacteria help to digest your food and provide a good ratio of friendly to unfriendly bacteria for a less disruptive digestive system. You can find probiotics in supplement form or in many different foods.
  • Fermented and cultured foods, such as yogurt, Kefir and sauerkraut contain natural sources of probiotics. Adding 2 to 4 (30 to 60ml) tablespoons of kefir to your child’s smoothie or mixing it in their breakfast cereal can be an easy way to add probiotics into their diet.
  • When purchasing yogurt for the benefit of probiotics, ensure that the label indicates “live and active” cultures. Having a daily dose of these healthy bacteria along with a balanced diet may help improve your child’s regularly leading to better digestive and immune health.

3.  Exercise

We all know exercise is good for our overall health, but did you know it can actually help improve digestive issues and relieve constipation?

  • Exercise stimulates peristalsis, which is the contraction and relaxation of the muscles in the intestines that pushes food down your gastrointestinal tract.
  • Ensure your child reaches the recommended 60 minutes of activity daily. Reduce screen time to 60 minutes or less per day.
  • Incorporate activity into daily routines by walking to school, going for family hikes and bike rides. If possible enroll your child in organized sports. All of these options will help to increase activity levels and promote digestive and fitness health.

Are you interested in more kid’s nutrition and health topics and tips from Laura on the Grow with Nutrition Blog? Let us know in the comment box below!

References

Laura BelsitoThis blog was written (with a few edits from Jane) for Grow with Nutrition by Laura Belsito who is a Registered Dietitian with a passion for pediatric nutrition. She completed a Bachelors Degree and a Master’s Degree in Applied Human Nutrition at the University of Guelph. Laura counsels clients via two family health teams with a focus on pediatric nutrition. Laura loves working with children to help them grow to their full potential. Their smiles and positive attitudes motivate Laura to empower both children and their parents with healthy eating strategies.