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What's Missing From Your Child's Diet?

Fiber

Chronic constipation in children is a problem that pediatricians are treating more and more often. The cause? Diets that are filled with refined, processed foods that lack the natural fiber from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains that is essential for keeping the intestinal tract in good working order. Fiber itself is not a nutrient because it is not absorbed during digestion, but the body definitely needs it for optimal health -- not just for avoiding constipation. Soluble fiber (the kind in beans and oats) can also prevent heart disease because it corrals and eliminates bad fats that would otherwise get absorbed and transformed into blood cholesterol; insoluble fiber (the kind in whole-grain breads and cereals) fights cancer because it shuttles waste, including cancer-causing substances, through the intestines quickly. There's no established children's RDA for fiber, but if kids were to meet the USDA's dietary guideline for eating fruits and vegetables -- about 3 servings of each daily -- they'd be sure to get enough fiber.

Best fiber sources:

  • 1/2 cup cooked kidney beans: 6.6 g

  • 1 cup broccoli, cooked: 5.4 g

  • 1 cup cooked oatmeal: 4.0 g

  • 1 cup strawberries: 3.9 g

  • 2 slices whole-wheat bread: 3.4 g

  • 1 apple, unpeeled: 3.6 g

  • 1/2 cup raspberries: 2.6 g

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