A healthy meal remains a balanced meal representative of every food group and your child needs all the nutrients they can get for their growing bodies and brains. One nutrient that too often gets forgotten for a healthy diet is fibre.
Fibre, found in wholegrain cereals, pasta and bread as well as fruit, vegetables, nuts and pulses, play a vital role in a child’s overall well-being. Children who eat a low fibre diet are at risk of constipation or poor bowel health. Many South African children between the ages of one and nine years have an inadequate intake of dietary fibre, according to a study published in the South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
So parents, trust your gut and add some more fibre to your family feasts.
Why we need to fight for fibre
Our bodies host trillions of microorganisms and a large community lives in our gut/digestive tract. Research has found that these microorganisms play a very important role in our health by helping control digestion, boosting the immune system and protecting the body against harmful pathogens. While diet is considered the main driver of shaping the make-up of microbiota in our gut, one food sort is crucial to keep our gut going: fibre.
Dietary fibre is important for our digestive health which also directly impacts our health as a whole. Some of the added benefits of a fibre rich diet include:
- Healthy bowel movements. Because fibre boosts digestive health, it helps prevent constipation. Studies have found that a high-fibre diet also lowers the risk of developing colon diseases such colorectal cancer.
- Healthy weight. High-fibre foods like wholegrain breads, vegetables and cereals tend to be more filling than low-fibre foods, so you're likely to eat less and stay fuller for longer.
- Controlled blood sugar levels. Fibre can slow the absorption of sugar and help improve blood sugar levels. A diet that includes fibre may also reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- Lower cholesterol levels. Fibre found in beans, oats, and bran may help lower your total cholesterol levels by lowering bad cholesterol levels. High-fibre foods have other heart-health benefits like reducing blood pressure and inflammation, according to an article by Harvard Health.
- Happy heart. Increasing your dietary fibre intake is associated with a reduced risk of developing cardiovascular disease ensuring you maintain a healthy heart.
Why fibre is a friend to any child’s diet
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is especially important for young children's development because it helps them obtain the right amounts of essential nutrients. It also helps them to avoid a diet that is high in sugars, fats and salt, which can lead to unhealthy weight gain, according to the Food-Based Dietary Guidelines for South Africa.
For children older than 2 years, the recommended fibre intake is roughly their age plus 5g per day, according to the Food Advisory Consumer Service of South Africa, by age 5 years they should be taking in at least 10g fibre per day. By the age of 20 we should all be getting at least 25g to 35g per day.
Where to find your favourite high-fibre foods
Foods that are good sources of fibre include whole-grain breads; whole-grain cereals; vegetables; fruit; beans; peas; and nuts. Through a bowl of oats or fruit, you can kickstart your child’s day (and gut) with a healthy helping of fibre. For lunch and dinner, fibre can add some colour to your child’s plate through vegetables like butternut, spinach and broccoli. You can also easily work fibre-rich foods in through fun snacks like popcorn or noodles throughout the day.
Where possible, also choose high-fibre variants of your favourite products. MAGGI’s recently launched a high-fibre range of their well-known and beloved 2-minute noodles. Every pack of MAGGI Hi Fibre Noodles comes with the fibre equivalent of one bowl of oats. MAGGIi Hi Fibre noodles are especially formulated to give your family some of the health benefits they need while supplying the kiddos with a yummy meal.
This post was sponsored by MAGGI and produced by BrandStudio24.