Every mother knows that raising kids on a healthy balanced diet with just the right amount of exercise, is an absolute must. As your child grows, they require a balanced and healthy diet of proteins, carbohydrates, fruit, vegetables, milk/dairy etc. to ensure that their development is on track and they have the best chance in life to be healthy.
However, one area that is often forgotten about is their digestive system. It’s all very well giving your kids plenty of good food, but you also need to ensure that their digestive system is developed enough to process it all.
What’s the role of the Digestive System?
Digestion is the process of breaking down food and liquid into the fuel our body needs to grow. Depending on the diet of a child, a digestive system can be a delicate and “fussy” part of your child’s anatomy.
Your child’s digestive system isn’t just their stomach, but their mouth, oesophagus/gullet, small intestine, pancreas, large intestine, liver and colon.
An unhealthy digestive system could not only be uncomfortable for children, but may also cause them problems early in life.
Why is the digestive system so important for children?
If you consider just how much your child eats on a regular basis and how much of their diet is made of up of new foods they’ve never had before, then it’s no surprise that how delicate their stomachs can be. Eating too much processed junk food (that is high in salt, fats, refined sugars) slows down the digestion process. That’s why if kids eat too much rubbish, they may become bloated, lethargic and ultimately, poorly.
More importantly than this though, good digestion is vital for ensuring a healthy immune system – something we all benefit from later in life.
So should parents ban junk food?
It’s unlikely you’ll ever be able to enforce a full ban on junk food for your children, so most nutritionists recommend a balanced diet. Below are a few ideas of how you can achieve this:
- Avoid your child eating refined sugar foods like sweets on an empty stomach. Make sure if they are going to have sweets that it’s balanced with foods that provide all the enzymes and nutrients their body needs
- Regular exercise is crucial for maintaining a strong digestive system. It ensures that your child is burning calories and their body isn’t storing potentially harmful fats
- Substitute snacks with fruit and vegetables. The sooner you can make fruit and vegetable based “snacks” the norm, the easier it will be for your child to get used to them. Regular fruit and veg carry an abundance of vitamins your child needs to grow healthily
- Portion control is key to a balanced diet. Many parents forget that their child can be less than third of the size of them and still give them adult portions. Children have a much lower required calorie intake than adults
- Eating slowly in a relaxed environment can help remove stress on the body and ensure a smoother digestive process for your child
What are some good food to help improve my child’s digestive system?
As a parent, the earlier you can introduce specialist food to your child’s diet, the more likely they are willing to accept it. As kids grow older, they may become more fussy and cynical of the food you put in front of them. However, if it’s always been part of their diet, they may be more ready to accept it and continue to eat it into the rest of their life as a “healthy habit”.
With this in mind, here are some super-foods/ingredients that can help improve your child’s digestive system:
- Psyllium Husk – is a simple cleansing powder that helps cleanse your child’s body of harmful toxins that could cause digestive system problems. It can be sprinkled lightly onto cereal or porridge if you have a fussy child and go undetected. Alternatively, it can be taken mixed in with water or even juice.
- Fibre-packed cereals – drastically improve digestive systems and are a good opportunity for introducing wholegrains into the diet.
- Yoghurt – is a great source of healthy bacteria that can be used a quick snack. Not only does yogurt help with the production of healthy bacteria in your gut but it can also improve your child’s immune system.