Constipation in Children: What Foods Should They Eat?

June 23, 2020
Constipation in children is a problem that causes many parents a great deal of worry. Fortunately, most cases can be dealt with by changing their diet. So, what foods should constipated children eat?

Constipation in children is a very frequent health problem. It’s common for a high percentage of small children to suffer from this issue. This process usually takes care of itself as children get older. However, some cases may require certain dietary changes. Today, we’ll talk about what foods constipated children should eat.

Except in the case of some underlying illness or mechanical cause for this situation, constipation in children is usually reversible using a proper diet. Therefore, it’s important to be careful about what children eat. That way, parents may be able to avoid having to submit little ones to pharmacological treatments.

In some cases, laxations and other medications may be necessary. However, they can lead to certain undesirable effects on the body, causing the liver to suffer from their metabolism. Therefore, in the following article, you’ll discover certain foods and dietary strategies that can be effective in preventing and treating constipation in children.

Useful foods for constipation in children

When little ones suffer from constipation, it’s important to first determine how severe the problem is. Therefore, the first thing parents should do is see a pediatrician get a diagnosis. After that, the doctor will determine if pharmacological treatments are necessary or if dietary changes will suffice.

Fortunately, in most cases, constipation in children can be prevented by adjusting the food that they eat. Many foods stimulate intestinal motility and favor the relief of constipation. 

So, what are the best options?

You may also want to read: Celiac Disease in Children and Teenagers

Fruit

One of the basic nutrients for treating this pathology is fiber. Fruits and vegetables are rich in this substance which allows for an increase in the volume of stool and, therefore, peristaltic intestinal movements.

There are two types of fiber: Soluble and insoluble. The first allows for the increase in the volume of stool using the absorption of water. That way, the passage is mechanically faster and more efficient. What’s more, the consistency of stool is better, since soluble fiber limits its hardness.

This type of fiber is usually present in fruits and vegetables, which means daily consumption is crucial. However, it’s important to vary the fruits children eat. Choosing fruits that are in season tends to be an effective strategy when it comes to assuring the correct ingestion of vitamins.

At the same time, it’s worth mentioning that there’s a substantial difference between consuming whole fruits and juices or smoothies. When it comes to juices and smoothing, we lose the fiber present in fruits, making them ineffective in the treatment of constipation in children.

A baby eating strawberries.
Fruits are a great ally when it comes to constipation in children. Their fiber content helps to improve intestinal transit. Plus, they’re delicious!

Oats for children with constipation

When it comes to insoluble fiber, one of the most important representatives is oats. This type of fiber is characterized by being fermented on an intestinal level, producing short-chain fatty acids. This type of substance has greater anti-inflammatory power and improves the composition of the microbiota–or intestinal flora.

Healthy intestinal flora assures the correct processing of nutrients and optimal exchange of liquids. This prevents diarrhea and constipation in children. The fiber in oats consists mainly of beta-glucans, which are compounds that offer several benefits.

On the one hand, their fermentation gives them an anti-inflammatory capacity. At the same time, they can even regulate the lipidic profile of the individual, slightly reducing LDL cholesterol levels.

Whole grains

Besides oats, there are other types of grains that can also be helpful when it comes to constipation in children. However, any time we offer our children grains, it’s best to choose whole grains over refined grains.

This type of food offers a lower glycaemic index, which is good news for pancreatic health and the management and prevention of diabetes. At the same time, the amount of fiber present in whole grains is significantly higher, thus allowing for improved intestinal transit.

Yogurt for intestinal microflora

Consuming at least one yogurt per day significantly improves the health of microflora and the symptoms of constipation in children. This food contains a high quantity of probiotics – live bacteria that colonize in the digestive tract, producing benefits for the host

Therefore, the right microflora guarantees the exchange of liquids and the proper absorption of nutrients. As a result, feces will possess the correct consistency and hardness necessary for their expulsion.

The yogurt that children eat must have low sugar content. In the last years, a great number of very sugary dairy products have appeared on the market. These products fall into the category of processed foods and, therefore, children should consume very limited amounts.

However, the daily intake of natural yogurt to fermented milk is totally positive for intestinal health. Plus, it also helps to prevent constipation in children.

Natural yogurt for chidlren.
Given its probiotic content, natural yogurt is a good option for promoting relief from constipation in children.

Children with constipation need to drink more water

Soluble fiber won’t be effective if liquid intake is insufficient. Therefore, it’s best to drink at least 6-8 glasses of water per day. This assures the formation of feces with the right texture and that’s not excessively hard, which can produce some mechanical blockage.

Additionally, water is an indispensable element for the absorption and distribution of vitamins by the body. It’s a fundamental component of blood and is present in all of the systems that make up the human body.

Dsicover more: Everything You Need to Know About Lactose Intolerance

Reduce constipation in children through nutrition: Conclusion

Overall, the best foods for children that suffer from constipation are those that have a high fiber content. It’s essential to combine foods that are rich in soluble fiber with those that contain insoluble fiber in their composition. Therefore, parents should prioritize fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

This way, you can be sure that the volume of feces will be correct and that its passage will take place without complications. On top of all of this, children need to drink plenty of water, since the excessive hardness of stool can be one of the main reason that makes its expulsion difficult.

All of this will help your child to feel better soon. However, if constipation lasts for a while or other symptoms are present, make sure to take your child to a doctor. 

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