Good digestion is vital for your children's health

 

Good digestion has immense health implications. After all, the digestive system helps in providing our children’s body its vital nourishment. Digestion breaks down the food that our children take into nutrients, which their body can absorb and use for energy, growth, and maintenance.1 Beneficial microbes in the digestive system also aid digestion as well as promote immunity against diseases and ward off microbes that can cause illnesses.2

 

Useful tips for better digestion

 

 

Take plenty of foods that are loaded with fiber

 

 

Fiber promotes healthy digestive function. It helps regulate bowel movement and remove waste from your child’s body. It also helps to prevent constipation or hard stools. Certain fibers with prebiotic properties also promote the growth of beneficial microbes in the gut.3

 

Vegetables and fruits are good source of fiber. The recommended vegetables and fruits intake for children is as below4.

 

 Age
 
 Vegetables
(Servings/day)
 Fruits
(Servings/day)
  <7 years  2  2
  7-18 years  ≥3  2

Drink lots of waters

 

 

Together with fiber, water helps in stool evacuation and is also recommended for those with constipation problems.5

 

 

 

The recommended water intake for children is as below4.

 

 Age
 
 Plain water (Glass, 250ml per day)
  2-3 years   4-18 years
  1-2   6-8

 

 

Consume milk that is easy to digest and gentle on tummy

 

 

 

According to Malaysian Dietary Guidelines for Children and Adolescents, children are recommended to consume 2 to 3 servings of milk and milk products everyday4. You may give your child a milk that is easy to digest and gentle on tummy if he/she has delicate tummy. With the advances in children nutrition technology, growing up milk that is formulated with partially hydrolyzed protein (broken down protein) and lowered lactose is now made available to help support your child’s digestion.

 

 

 

 

Move and exercise

 

 

 

Regular light to moderate physical activity or play can promote the evacuation of stool and gas. Studies also show that it helps in digestive problems like constipation and inflammatory bowel disease.6 Children are recommended to accumulate at least 60 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity daily4, such as a game of catch and throw, riding a bicycle, brisk walking or playing badminton.

 

 

 

 

Eat regular meal or snacks

 

 

 

Regular mealtime routines help with the daily toilet habits of children. Skipping meals or snacks is not recommended.7

 

 

 

 

Avoid overeating or eating too fast

 

 

 

Overeating or eating too fast can lead to indigestion.8 Aside of eating the right foods, parents can also pay attention to how their kids eat, ie, that children chew foods well before swallowing and also eating without distractions so they are aware of what and how much they are eating.

 

 

 

 

       References:

  1. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. The digestive system and how it works. Available at https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/digestiv.... Accessed on 1 November 2017.
  2. Gibson GR, Roberfroid MB. Dietary modulation of the human colonic microbiota: introducing the concept of prebiotics. J Nutri. 1995;125(6):1401.
  3. Anderson JW, Baird P, Davis RH, et al. Health benefits of dietary fiber. Nutrition Reviews 2009 ;67(4):188-205.
  4. Malaysian Dietary Guidelines for Children and Adolescents 2013
  5. Popkin BM, D'anci KE, Rosenberg IH. Water, hydration, and health. Nutrition Reviews. 2010;68(8):439-58.
  6. De Oliveira EP, Burini RC. The impact of physical exercise on the gastrointestinal tract. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care. 2009;12(5):533-8.
  7. Interior Health Authority. Childhood constipation. Available at https://www.interiorhealth.ca/YourHealth/InfantsChildren/Documents/Child.... Accessed on 1 November 2017.
  8. Mayo Clinic. Indigestion. Available at https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/indigestion/symptoms-caus.... Accessed on 2 November 2017.