Eat right and digest well! What we eat determines how well our digestion works. Digestion is amongst the most common concerns in kids today. Child’s gut is responsible for the child’s overall health. It is connected to the child’s immune system, mood, mental health and body functioning. Most of the diseases emerge in the gut, which is a component of a child’s digestive system. Digestive tract is responsible for absorbing nutrients and eliminating waste. Food plays an important role in digestion. Probiotics, prebiotics and fiber rich food for good digestion should be included in diet from beginning.
Digestion means breaking down food into nutrients, which is further used by the body for energy, growth and cell repair. If you want to set your child up for a lifetime of good health, it is essential to flourish the child’s digestive system with healthy bacteria. Symptoms of digestive problems include diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, bloating, gas and constipation. All of them negatively affects your child’s growth and development.
Digestive issues are primarily due to the food choices and not taking fiber rich food. Most of the meals nowadays comprises easy-to-consume options. Mostly include plain roti, yellow dal, potato, bread, white rice, pasta, cake, soup, noodles, cookies. While these food choices don’t lack nutrition entirely (if made at home). But they do miss out on an essential macronutrient- Fiber. Fiber is the non-digestible carbohydrate. It is responsible for keeping our digestion healthy and regular. Lack of fiber rich food in diet may cause constipation, which is a nutrient deficient disease. The usual cycle of digestion is between 1 to 1.5 days. However, with the current food choices, this time has become 4 days. So even though your child may be regular, he might still be 4 days late (constipated).
Preventive measures to improve the digestive system of kids:
- Introducing small meals
- Chewing food slowly and carefully
- Fiber rich seasonal fruits and vegetables
- Intake of plenty of water to cleanse child’s digestive system
- Enough sleep helps to rejuvenate the child’s digestive system
- Reduced processed foods
Foods for proper digestion
1. Tapioca starch:
Tapioca is a delicious starch extract derived from the cassava plant. High in dietary fiber tapioca is great food for digestion and constipation. Fiber bulks up the stool, which may help move it through the digestive tract, thereby eliminating constipation, bloating, and intestinal pain. It is also rich in protein, calcium iron and vitamin K, all of these support the overall growth of kids.
2. Sweet potato:
The high fiber content of this food helps in preventing constipation and promotes a well-functioning digestive tract. According to a study, dietary fiber found in sweet potatoes such as cellulose, lignin and pectin helps in maintaining gut health and improves digestion. It also contains vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E, potassium, magnesium and calcium that helps in the overall health of your baby. (Easy sweet potato fries recipe)
3. Black urad:
Urad dal is usually called black dal when whole and white when it is skinned and split. It is great in taste and in nutritional content. Urad dal is one of the best options to improve your digestion. It is Rechana (laxative) in nature. Consuming Urad dal helps to add bulk to stool and its high fiber content improves bowel movement. Altogether, it helps control constipation. Also, it is a great source of protein too.
It is a shrub and an essential herb in ayurvedic medicines. Giloy is used to treat a wide range of health conditions. It contains important plant compounds like terpenoids, alkaloids, lignans, and steroids. Research shows that these compounds have antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antidiabetic properties which not only helps in boosting immunity, but Giloy stem can also help improve digestion, reduce constipation, acidity, gas and bloating. It works well for people with a weak digestive system.
Also known as Boswellia serrate, this Ayurvedic herb is used for the treatment of inflammatory diseases, including those affecting the gastrointestinal tract (e.g. diarrhoea, dysentery, and inflammatory bowel disease).Shallaki is also rich in carbohydrates and calcium, thus helps in bone growth and improves appetite.
6. Sendha namak ( rock salt):
In traditional Ayurvedic practices, rock salt is used as a home remedy for various digestive ailments, including stomach worms, heartburn, bloating, constipation, stomach pain, and vomiting. It can be used as a natural substitute for laxatives. It’s simply added to dishes in place of table salt and due to the beneficial minerals which are possessed by Rock salt it helps in proper digestion.
7. Raw banana:
Just with the addition of raw banana, a child can meet the daily fiber requirement considerably. It is a fiber rich food with around 60% fiber, which is a god-sent solution to improper digestion. (Some more foods rich in fibre). It is also extremely high in Vitamin B6, which keeps haemoglobin high, gives ample energy and helps kids fight weakness, fatigue and crankiness.
8. Green tea extract:
Green tea contains polyphenols and it help to improve your body’s digestive process. Studies on green tea extracts have demonstrated similar benefits to those associated with drinking it as a tea. Green tea extract has high antioxidant content, which helps improve health and body composition.
Fructooligosaccharides (FOS) are composed of short fructose chains. They are a type of carbohydrate called oligosaccharides. FOS occurs naturally in many plants. They are prebiotic fibers that support the growth of healthy bacteria in the digestive tract. FOS are a good source of soluble, dietary fiber and also have been shown to reduce, or eliminate constipation.
Curry leaves are famous food for digestion and stimulate digestive enzymes. The laxative properties of curry leaves also help in regulating the bowel movement and help in treating issues like gas and diarrhea.
Arbi or taro leaves is a green leafy vegetable that’s high in potassium, folate, fiber and vitamins C and A. Taro root also contains plenty of fiber and resistant starch. Hence, it is beneficial for gut health and supports a healthy digestive system.
11. Bacillus coagulans:
Bacillus coagulans is a type of good bacteria (probiotics). It is used similarly to lactobacillus and other probiotics as “beneficial” bacteria. People take Bacillus coagulans for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diarrhea, gas, airway infections, and also for many other conditions.
SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH ON INGREDIENTS FOR PROPER DIGESTION:
How shallaki helps in digestion Read here
check the role of Bacillus coagulans in digestion Read here
Foods to avoid
High consumption of ultra-processed food and low consumption of fiber and vegetables results in an unhealthy gut. However, most of processed food contains a lot of sugar, artificial colors, flavours and unhealthy fats which have diverse and less healthy gut flora. On the other hand fiber is fuel for colon cells and helps to keep the digestive tract flowing. Always encourage your child to make healthy food choices. (What does junk food do to kids’ organs?)
Preservatives are linked with many health issues like gut health and inflammatory bowel disorders. Most of the packaged food companies are adding artificial preservatives to delay spoilage and contamination in foods. Artificial preservatives such as nitrates, benzoates, sulfites, sorbates, parabens, formaldehyde, BHT, BHA and several others can cause serious digestive issues.
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