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Your Child’s Digestive Care: Fiber Away!

As They Grow: Your Child’s Digestive Care: Fiber Away!

Fiber is important for your child’s health. It helps the digestive system eliminate waste and prevent constipation. Fiber also supports satiety and decreases the risk of heart disease and stroke.

There are 2 types of fiber, insoluble and soluble. Insoluble fiber comes from plant cell walls and does not dissolve in water. It’s commonly found in wheat bran, whole grains and some vegetables. Meanwhile, soluble fiber dissolves in water and examples include oats, barley, and dried beans. Did you know? Fluid intake must be enough for fiber to work and to prevent gas and bloating.

A way to ensure your child gets enough fiber is by eating at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day, together with other foods rich in fiber. However, fiber needs vary depending on a child’s age and weight. A simple way to calculate daily requirements is by adding 5 to your child’s age to a maximum of 25 grams, which is the recommended daily fiber intake for adults. For example, a 10-year-old would need about 15 grams of fiber per day.

Fiber is easy to find if you choose your food smartly! Good sources of fiber are vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans and fiber-rich whole-grain cereals and breads. Examples of whole grains are whole wheat, brown rice, buckwheat, oatmeal, and bulgur. If your child dislikes high-fiber foods, consider increasing fiber by adding unprocessed wheat bran, which can be mixed with food. Fiber supplements are also available such as psyllium (Metamucil) or wheat dextrin (Benefiber). To determine fiber content from a nutritional label, look for “Dietary fiber”. Foods with 5 or more grams of fiber per serving are excellent sources of fiber.

If you have any questions about fiber, online resources are available through the Dieticians of Canada website. Your dietician or healthcare provider can also provide more information.

Becky Biqi Chen was a resident in general pediatrics for three years at the Children’s Hospital at London Health Sciences Centre. She is currently specializing in pediatric gastroenterology during her fellowship at the British Columbia Children’s Hospital.


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