Dietary Fiber is a term that has been in use for over fifty years now, and we hear it often. Understanding its true meaning, and the application to children's nutrition is important. Especially now, with the obesity epidemic sweeping across many parts of the world.
The term "dietary fiber" means the nondigestible plant parts that we eat. These are composed of substances that human digestive juices cannot break down and which are thus not absorbed. Small amounts on carbohydrates may be available for absorption, but on the whole, fiber is very low in calories or any other nutrient.
Fiber is classified as soluble and non soluble types. Soluble fiber is useful in in glucose regulation and reduction of cholesterol, while insoluble fiber is needed to provide bulk to the stools. This aids in having regular bowel movements.
Most fiber containing foods have a mix of both types of fiber. However, the proportion is not equal. Vegetables, fruits, dried legumes, and oat and barley bran are high in soluble fiber. Wheat and corn bran, vegetables, and whole grain breads have a high proportion of insoluble fiber.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommendeds:
Most children do not like the food items that contain fiber, and less than half of all children actually have an adequate fiber intake. Older children are more difficult in this regard.
It was found that 45% of 4 to 6 year olds ate the minimum standard recommendations for fiber. Among children 7 to 10 years of age, only 32% met the minimum standard. Children should be encouraged to have more of the foods rich in fiber.
Fresh foods are better than packaged fiber concentrates. Fresh foods contain other nutrients in addition to fiber. Besides, medicalisation of food should be avoided.
Most foods' fiber content is unaffected by cooking. The fiber content of some common foods:
Children having lots of fiber in their diet should also drink a lot of liquids, to avoid constipation. Switching to a high fiber diet suddenly can lead to abdominal bloating, discomfort, and cramps. The amount of fiber in the diet should be increased gradually.
Last Revision: February 12, 2016
Over the past 50 years, we have learnt much about the advantages of eating lots of fiber containing foods.
Dr. Parang Mehta,
Opposite Putli, Sagrampura,
Surat, India. Tel: +91 9429486624.