Fibre - Micronutrients and your children

Most parents know that fibre is healthy, but do you know how much fibre your child needs, what the best high fibre foods are and if there is a limit to how much fibre a child should be getting?

What is fibre?

Fibre is the portion of plant derived foods that cannot be completely broken down by the stomach and intestines. There are three different types of fibre, soluble, insoluble and resistant starch.

Soluble fibre helps slow the digestion process in our stomachs and helps you feel fuller for longer. It is found in foods like fruits, vegetables, oats, barley and legumes.
Insoluble fibre helps to soften the contents of our bowls by absorbing water, it also helps us feel full for longer and maintains healthy gut flora. It is found in nuts, seeds, wholegrain breads and cereals and the skin of fruits and vegetables.
Resistant starch is unable to be digested by the small intestine and instead helps to feed the friendly gut bacteria in your large intestines. It is found in foods like undercooked pasta, under ripe bananas and potatoes that have been cooked then cooled.

What does fibre do?

As well as helping to keep your digestive tract moving along normally, fibre also helps to keep our bodies healthy by lowering cholesterol and stabilising blood sugar levels. It is important not to give your child too much fibre or increase their intake rapidly as this can lead to digestive upset, gas and diarrhoea.

How much fibre does my child need?

The Australian Government National Health and Medical Research Council recommends children aged 4-8 years aim for 14-18g of fibre each day. The best fibre rich foods to try and include in your child’s diet regularly are wholemeal pasta, broccoli, strawberries, peas and beans.

If you are looking at ways to increase your child fibre intake there is an abundance of both sweet and savoury high fibre foods to choose from. It is also important to encourage your child to drink plenty of water throughout the day to help fibre move through the digestive tract and avoid getting stuck, which can lead to constipation. Aim for at least 4-6 cups of fluid each day.